Skip to Top NavigationSkip to ContentSkip to Footer
Ferris State University BulldogFerris State University Logo

A Finding Aid for the Lawrence W. Prakken Papers 1953-1977

Collection Summary

Collection Title: Lawrence W. Prakken Papers

Creator: Prakken, Lawrence W.

Dates: 1953-1977

Abstract: Lawrence W. Prakken (1909-1987) was one of the original Board of Control members appointed by the State of Michigan in 1950. He remained on the board until 1977, serving both as chair and vice-chair. The owner of Prakken Publications, Prakken was a University of Michigan graduate. He served Ferris through presidential searches, the founding of the College of Optometry and numerous construction projects. The papers contain correspondence and programs relating to his involvement in Board activities, and a folder of photographs of Ferris events.

Language: English

Quantity: 1.5 cubic feet; 1 records center box

Identification: UA 2.50.3

Repository: Ferris State University Archives and Records Management Program

Historical Note

Lawrence W. Prakken was born in 1908 in Sault St. Marie, Michigan. He received both a bachelors and masters degree from the University of Michigan. After a brief career in the newspaper business, Prakken entered the educational press field in 1931. By 1935, Prakken had founded his own company in Ann Arbor called Prakken Publications. This press served as publisher for two national education magazines entitled School Shop and Education Digest.

Prakken was appointed to the Ferris Board of Control one day after the disastrous fire which destroyed most of the campus. Prakken served as vice-chairman of the Ferris State College Board of Control from 1959-1968. From 1968-1972, Prakken chaired the board, overseeing the hire of a new president and racial tensions on campus. The East Building, located at the corner of Ives and Oak Streets was renamed Prakken Building in 1975 in honor of his lengthy and devoted service to Ferris State College.

In addition to the presidency of the Educational Press Association, Prakken belonged to the National Education Association, Industrial Arts Association, Michigan Industrial Education Society and American Vocational Association. Locally, Prakken taught journalism at the University of Michigan and served on the Ann Arbor Board of Education from 1963-1967.

He died on 9 December 1987 in Ft. Meyers, Florida. Lawrence Prakken was survived by his wife Margaret and three children: David, Ellen and William.

Scope and Content Note

While not a Ferris graduate, Lawrence Prakken was a dedicated Board member who was involved in every aspect of life at the college. Whether it was the hiring of President Robert L. Ewigleben in 1970, additions to the Music Center or the installation of a rotary telephone system (see Campus communication study, 1976), Prakken researched issues carefully and responded to his constituents.

This collection in its entirety relates to Lawrence Prakken's tenure on the Ferris State College Board of Control and in particular his last seven years (1970-1977). A miscellaneous reports file covers a wide variety of issues, from tenure policy to enrollment figures and a brief college history. Of special interest is a letter from Nicholas Rutanski concerning student visitation policies. There is substantial documentation about the early years of the College of Optometry- and Ferris' efforts to avoid being shut down by the state. This includes correspondence with the accrediting American Optometry Association. Additionally, correspondence with Steven L. Dykema illustrates Ferris' relations with a Grand Rapids law firm prior to the creation of a Governmental Relations office on campus. There is also an FBI report on campus violence sent to Prakken in 1970.

One file folder, contains information on Michigan's Governors Commission on Higher Education (1974).

Two boxes containing unannotated copies of board minutes, bound presidential letters and Ferris publications including yearbooks and Expositors that are duplicated in other record series have been removed from the collection.


The papers are contained in a single series.

Access Information

Conditions of Access

The Lawrence W. Prakken 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. Lawrence W. Prakken Papers. Ferris State University Archives. Big Rapids, Michigan.

Provenance (Acquisition Information)

The Lawrence W. Prakken Papers were donated by Lawrence Prakken, Ann Arbor, Michigan in August 1977.

Processing Information

The Lawrence W. Prakken Papers were processed to the folder level by Melinda McMartin Isler in May 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. 1953-1977.

The Lawrence W. Prakken Papers are arranged into a single series. The files are general subject file relating primarily to Prakken's service on the Board of Trustees.

The files are arranged alphabetically by correspondent name or subject (i.e. Ewigleben, Robert, Ferris State College- College of Optometry or Newsclippings). Materials generated by Ferris State College, are subgrouped alphabetically under the heading Ferris State College. Within folders, materials are arranged chronologically whenever possible.

Box Folder Contents
1 1 American Optometric Association. Council on Optometric Education. 1976-1977.
1 2 American Optometric Association Council on Optometric Education. Report. 1976.
1 3 Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. Conference. 1967.
1 4 Brophy, Bryon J. 1950-1951.
1 5 Bychinsky, S. Eugene. 1972-1974.
1 6 Correspondence. A-Z. 1970-1977.
1 7 Dean, Stanley J. 1975-1977.
1 8 Dykema, Steven L. 1972-1973.
1 9 Ewigleben, Robert L. Search and nomination. 1970.
1 10 Ewigleben, Robert L. 1970-1976.
1 11 Ferris State College. Board of Control. Bylaw revisions. 1970.
1 12 Ferris State College. Board of Control. Membership certificate. 1960.
1 13 Ferris State College. Building Expansion Study (Music Center). Undated.
1 14 Ferris State College. College of Optometry. January 1974-March 1976.
1 15 Ferris State College. College of Optometry. April 1976-December 1977.
1 16 Ferris State College. College of Optometry. Reorganization proposal. 1976.
1 17 Ferris State College. Committee on Naming Buildings. 1965-1976.
1 18 Ferris State College. Communications study (telephones). 1976.
1 19 Ferris State College. Faculty Week. 1968-1969.
1 20 Ferris State College. Ferris Faculty Association contract negotiations. 1973; 1975.
1 21 Ferris State College. Graphics study. 1975.
1 22 Ferris State College. Honorary degree program. 1976.
1 23 Ferris State College. Photographs. 1969-1971; undated.
1 24 Ferris State College. Reports. 1969-1976; undated.
1 25 Ferris, Woodbridge N. State resolution. 1953.
1 26 Governor's Commission on Higher Education. 1974.
1 27 Lucas, Ruth M. 1973.
1 28 Larsen, Clifford L. 1975-1977.
1 29 Michigan Association of Governing Board of State Colleges and Universities. 1958-1962; 1974.
1 30 Miliken, William G. 1970-1977.
1 31 Newsclippings. 1974-1975.
1 32 Nixon, Richard M re: campus violence. 1970.
1 33 Rutkowski, Nicholas. 1973.
1 34 Smith, John R. 1970-1971.
1 35 Spathelf, Victor F. 1953; 1957; 1970-1971.