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A Finding Aid for the Charles E. Fairman Papers 1928-1962

Collection Summary

Collection Title: Charles E. Fairman Papers

Creator: Fairman, Charles E.

Dates: 1928-1962

Abstract: Charles E. Fairman (1902 -1978) was a 1922 graduate of the Ferris pharmacy program. As a Big Rapids resident who owned a chain of pharmacy stores, Fairman was active in the governance of Ferris Institute. He served on the Board of Incorporators from 1931-1950 and on the Board of Trustees from 1950-1967. Records in the collection include financial statements, correspondence with Ferris Institute administration and materials relating to World War II community service activities.

Language: English

Quantity: 0.4 cubic feet; 1 Hollinger box

Identification: UA 2.50.1

Repository: Ferris State University Archives and Records Management Program

Historical Note

Charles Fairman was born on 10 August 1902 to George and May Fairman of Big Rapids, Michigan. The Fairmans were pioneer residents of the city who owned a local pharmacy Following his graduation from the Ferris pharmacy program in 1922, Fairman ran two stores in Big Rapids, and a store in Mecosta until his retirement in 1965.

Fairman was noted for his involvement in a variety of community activities. Fairman served as mayor of Big Rapids twice. In 1946, he was elected but forced to resign within the month because state regulations concerning liquor (which was sold at the drugstore) prohibited owners to hold public office. In 1976, as a fitting climax to his political involvement in Big Rapids politics, Fairman was elected mayor again. He had served the eight preceding years as a city commissioner and was serving again in this capacity at the time of his death. Fairman was active in creating the city's charter and noted among his accomplishments building the city pool.

In addition to his service to city government, Fairman was active in the United Church, Elks Club and the Big Rapids Area Development Corporation. He also served on the board of Directors at the Central Michigan Bank and Trust (also known as Citizens State Bank).

Charles Fairman was also deeply involved with the Ferris Institute. When a group of local businessmen took over the Institute in 1931, Fairman became a part of the Board of Incorporators. He struggled continuously over the next two decades to keep the Institute solvent and eventually convince the state to accept the institution. He then served as secretary of the board from 1950 until 1968. He left the board, again to avoid conflict with state regulations concerning conflict of interest. For his service to Ferris, Fairman was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1971.

Charles Fairman died on 11 October 1978 after a short illness. He was married to Helen and had four children: Charles, John, Frances (Ward) and Helen (Gingrich).

Scope and Content Note

Charles Fairman was a Board member who spanned many changes in the institution - from a private corporation to a state-run college. He was forced to resign from the Board because of a ruling by the Michigan Attorney State General in 1967 that service on the board of local banks constituted a conflict of interest. Prior to that, he served as secretary for 17 years.

As secretary of the board, Fairman had reports and materials relating to board activities- particularly the tenure of President Byron Brophy. The collection focuses on the World War II years. Of special interest is a 1937 insurance appraisal for the campus (the closest that has been found to a description of campus at the time of the 1950 fire.) There are also some materials relating to the offering of Ferris Institute to the state and correspondence with fellow Board members.

Fairman was a member of the Board Finance committee during an era of financial troubles for the Institute. In 1942, with unpaid bills mounting- the Board launched a bond drive. There is also in the collection a folder containing a preliminary inventory of Ferris property, created during the negotiations with the Mennonite Brethren for the sale of the school in late 1945.

Additional material about these subjects may be found in the Board of Trustee Records. This collection does not contain material about Fairman's pharmaceutical career or activities outside of his involvement with Ferris.


The papers are contained in a single series.

Access Information

Conditions of Access

The Charles E. Fairman Papers are open for research to all users in accordance with University Archives and Records Management access policies. It is available in the reading room of the Ferris State University Archives.

Conditions of Use

Requests for permission to publish material should be directed to the University Archivist. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Copyright interests for this collection have not been transferred to Ferris State University. For more information, contact the University Archivist.

Subject Headings

Below are a list of names, organizations and subjects relating to the collection. Names have been taken from Library of Congress Authority headings whenever possible.

Related Materials

Board of Trustees Records. (UA 2.2)

Administrative Information


Footnotes and bibliographic references should use the following format:
[Item], Folder, Box. Charles E. Fairman Papers. Ferris State University Archives. Big Rapids, Michigan.

Provenance (Acquisition Information)

The Charles E. Fairman Papers were donated by Ott Gingrich, Big Rapids, Michigan and the Fairman family in December 1988.

Processing Information

The Charles E. Fairman papers were processed to the folder level by Melinda McMartin Isler in April 2003. A finding aid was prepared in a word processing format and converted to EAD 1.0. A revised finding aid was created in January 2008. A collection level MARC-format record was prepared and placed in the library online public access catalog. Description was based on Describing Archives: A Content Standard (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2004).

Separated Materials

During processing, duplicate materials were discarded. There were no other materials placed in other collections.

Technical Requirements

This collection consists of paper based materials. No specialized hardware or software is required for viewing.

Content Listing

Series 1. General Records. 1928-1962.

The Charles E. Fairman Papers are arranged into a single series. These files primarily relate to Fairman's tenure on the Board of Control for Ferris Institute. Materials created as a part of Fairman's activities as secretary of the Board have been placed under the heading Ferris Institute and subdivided alphabetically.

The files are arranged alphabetically by correspondent or subject (i.e. Bryon Brophy or members list).

Box Folder Contents
1 1 Ashley, Fred. 1945.
1 2 Brophy, Bryon J. 1946-1954.
1 3 Brophy, Bryon J. Newsclippings. 1952.
1 4 Correspondence. 1942.
1 5 Cramer, Alfred S. 1943.
1 6 Davenport, M.E. 1942.
1 7 Facts about Ferris Institute. 1949.
1 8 Ferris Institute. Accounts notes. Undated.
1 9 Ferris Institute. Balance sheet. 1942-1946.
1 10 Ferris Institute. Board of Control. Correspondence; agendas. 1947-1952.
1 11 Ferris Institute. Bond sales. 1931.
1 12 Ferris Institute. Bond issue. 1942.
1 13 Ferris Institute. Budget. 1942-1945.
1 14 Ferris Institute. Fire insurance policy. 1932.
1 15 Ferris Institute. Fund subscription information; lists. 1945-1948; undated.
1 16 Ferris Institute. Incorporation papers. 1931.
1 17 Ferris Institute. Land agreements. 1944.
1 18 Ferris Institute. Legislation making Institute a state college. 1949..
1 19 Ferris Institute. Proxies. 1945-1946.
1 20 Ferris Institute. Reports. 1942; 1950; 1952; 1962..
1 21 Ferris Institute. Unpaid bills. 1942.
1 22 Ferris, Woodbridge N. Obituaries. 1928.
1 23 Johnson, Frank G. 1943.
1 24 Mecosta County War Chest. 1943.
1 25 Members list. 1945.
1 26 Merrill, Karl G. 1945; 1952.
1 27 Ward, Merle S. 1941-1945.
1 28 Wettlach, A.B. 1942.
1 29 Wonders, C.C. 1945-1946.
1 30 Worcester, Donald H. Re: Brophy, Bryon. 1945.