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

A Finding Aid for the John Taylor Papers 1953-1981 - University Archives

Collection Summary

Collection Title: John Taylor Papers

Creator: Taylor, John

Dates: 1953-1981

Abstract: John Taylor served as the department head for the Social Sciences department from 1959-1977 and initiated many new programs within the department. Records include his research files on aging, gerontology and social service programs. There are also some departmental records such as correspondence and reports.

Language: English

Quantity: 1.5 cubic feet; 1 records center box

Identification: UA 24.13.50

Repository: Ferris State University Archives and Records Management Program

Historical Note

John S. Taylor (1916-2004) was born on 26 October 1916 in Luckow, India to Reverend Samuel and Ethelyn Strasser Taylor who were Methodist ministers. He later returned to the United States for his education. His educational qualifications included a bachelor of arts from Illinois Wesleyan, followed by a masters of arts and doctorate of philosophy in gerontology from the University of Illinois.

Taylor's experiences prior to his arrival at Ferris included service as a U.S. Navy lieutenant during World War II, teaching in Illinois public schools and teaching at the college level for both Northwest Missouri State College and the University of Illinois.

At Ferris State College, Taylor served as the first department head for the Social Sciences Department. This was a new department, crafted out of existing programs which Taylor was to combine into an effective unit. Despite name changes and a shifting group of programs included within the department, Taylor headed the department until 1978. Among the many programs he initiated included the social services/human services program, child development and the criminal justice program. He retired from this position as department head in 1977 to return to full time teaching.

Taylor's research expertise was in the field of gerontology. While this was not a formal Ferris program, he remained involved both on a national and local level. For example, he conducted surveys regarding retirement housing in Big Rapids and surveys of Ferris emeriti faculty members about their activities. Taylor also served as the president of the Michigan Society of Gerontology and as the chairman for the Mecosta County Council on Aging. He attended conferences relating to gerontology.

Taylor was also a member and officer of many organizations including: American Sociological Association (Fellow), Mecosta County Economic Development Committee, Peace Corps liaison, Tau Kappa Epsilon and the Wesley Foundation (chairman; secretary).

John Taylor was married to Mildred Emerson Taylor and had three children. He passed away in Venice, Florida on 26 July 2004.

Scope and Content Note

John Taylor arrived at Ferris as the department head for the newly created Social Sciences department in 1959. He oversaw the combination of several disparate programs into one group for the General Education division.

There is material relating to Taylor's activities as department head, although minutes from departmental meetings and most curricula related activities were removed to the Social Sciences Department Records. His chronological correspondence for the 1966-1967 school year is a part of the collection. No other years were donated. Additionally, in his early years he wrote a series of progress reports to President Victor Spathelf. These cover the period from 1962-1970 (when Spathelf retired). There are a few program proposals which Taylor helped to propose including a social services technician program (also listed in the records as a human services program) and a program in gerontology.

Taylor was involved with the Big Rapids community. Records relating to Big Rapids include the Save our Old Jail proposal, a possible redesign of City Hall and architectural drawings of Michigan Avenue.

The remainder of the collection deals with Taylor's research interests, especially the study of aging. This interest can be seen in community involvement, as he worked on a survey about senior housing in Big Rapids, or in his survey of emeriti faculty members. There are many brochures and reports which he collected. Through Ferris State College, in 1977, a conference was sponsored on rural retirement, and the report is included in the collection. Additionally, Taylor regularly attended the White House Conference on Aging. There is a complete collection of information gathered at the 1981 Conference and some material on earlier conferences.

Also of interest in the collection, is an "I've Had It" Button and accompanying memo from 1969. These buttons were passed out after racial tensions broke out on campus and students had barricaded themselves in the library.


The papers are contained in a single series.

Access Information

Conditions of Access

The John Taylor 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 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

Social Science Department Records (UA 23.13.1)

Administrative Information


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

Provenance (Acquisition Information)

The John Taylor Papers were donated by Keith Montgomery, Big Rapids (Mich) in July 1987.

Processing Information

The John Taylor Papers were processed to the folder level by Colleen Price in June 2006. A finding aid was prepared in a word processing format by Melinda McMartin Isler and converted to EAD 2.0. A collection level MARC-21 record was prepared and placed in the library online public access catalog. Description based on Describing Archives: A Content Standard (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2004).

Separated Materials

The original collection consisted of two boxes. Some materials were placed into the Social Sciences Department Records while other duplicate material was discarded. The final collection consists of one box.

Technical Requirements

This collection consists of typed and handwritten papers. There is no specialized software required for viewing.

Content Listing

Subject Files. 1953-1981.

Records include correspondence, some departmental material and research files, including a large grouping of material relating to the 1981 White House Conference on Aging.

The series is arranged alphabetically by name/subject/title.

Box Folder Contents
1 1 Aging. Brochures; newsletters; pamphlets. 1980-1981.
1 2 Aging; senior citizens. Notes. 1970-1973.
1 3 Aging; reports. 1980-1981.
1 4 Area Redevelopment Act. 1961-1962.
1 5 Attitudes toward the need for privately financed senior citizens housing in the Big Rapids, Michigan community. Report. Winter 1968.
1 6 City of Big Rapids (Mich.) City Hall spatial report. 1970.
1 7 City of Big Rapids (Mich.) Michigan Avenue. Drawings. Undated.
1 8 City of Big Rapids (Mich.) Save our Jail proposal. 1976.
1 9 Cook, James M. and Santer, Richard A. Computer Graphs of the Michigan Population, Age and Sex Structure by Counties and Regions, 1960-1970. Report. 1976.
1 10 Correspondence. August 1966-December 1966.
1 11 Correspondence. January 1967-March 1967.
1 12 Correspondence. April 1967-August 1967.
1 13 Emeriti faculty survey. 1973.
1 14 Farrell, James. 10th anniversary committee. 1968.
1 15 Gerontology program. 1973.
1 16 Human services program. Folder 1. 1971; undated.
1 17 Human services program. Folder 2. 1971; undated.
1 18 "I've Had It" ribbon; memo. May 1970.
1 19 Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters. 1965.
1 20 Progress reports. Social Sciences Department. January 1962-December 1967.
1 21 Progress reports. Social Sciences Department. January 1968-October 1970.
1 22 Progress reports. Social Sciences Department. November 1970-December 1971.
1 23 Senior citizens housing. Newsclippings. 1961.
1 24 Social services technician program. 1970; undated.
1 25 Sociology and General Education. 1953; undated.
1 26 Toward a Humanistic View of Rural Retirement in Northern Lower Michigan. Conference. May 5-6, 1977.
1 27 White House Conference on Aging. 1960; 1971.
1 28 1981 White House Conference on Aging. Correspondence. 1981-1982.
1 29 1981 White House Conference on Aging. Delegate handbook.
1 30 1981 White House Conference on Aging. Fact sheets; informational packets.
1 31 1981 White House Conference on Aging. Images of Old Age in America exhibit.
1 32 1981 White House Conference on Aging. Memos.
1 33 1981 White House Conference on Aging. Participant binder.
1 34 1981 White House Conference on Aging. Mini-conference reports.
1 35 1981 White House Conference on Aging. Newsclippings; press bulletins.
1 36 1981 White House Conference on Aging. Notes.
1 37 1981 White House Conference on Aging. Program.
1 38 1981 White House Conference on Aging. Publications.
1 39 1981 White House Conference on Aging. Updates.