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March 18, 2020

MSU libraries gets 25,000-piece rock and roll history collection

In a state known for rock and roll, it would seem that scholars, music lovers and visitors should have access to a rich archive of posters, handbills, band photos, protest buttons, recordings and underground newspapers documenting this great musical history.

A treasure trove of such things will soon be available at Michigan State University Libraries, which recently acquired a 25,000-piece archive of 1960s – 1970s rock and roll history rooted in Michigan.

The collection was purchased from Melissa and Jack Bodnar, who describe it as the largest and most extensive collection of its kind. 

Dean of Libraries Joseph Salem said the acquisition represents the Libraries’ commitment to building collections that support specialized research.

“This collection will give students, faculty and other researchers access to rare materials that can help them think about musical history and social history in new ways,” Salem said. “Music is inexorably linked to culture, and this archive will help scholars and other visitors understand how art and history intersect. In the 60s and 70s, musicians were exploring issues of equity and inclusion that we’re still wrestling with today. In that way, this acquisition also represents the MSU Libraries’ commitment to leading meaningful initiatives in these areas.” 

Jack Bodnar spent more than 40 years building his collection, which includes original lithographs created by Carl Lundgren and Gary Grimshaw, promotional materials from the Grand Ballroom and a complete run of the Detroit underground newspaper Fifth Estate.

Bodnar studied journalism at MSU. During his time at MSU, he was the music columnist for the State News and the Lansing State Journal. He covered events at the Brewery, a venue on Michigan Avenue known for its rock concerts. Many bands played there, including Aerosmith, Rush and ZZ Top. He now lives in Dryden, Michigan, where he and his wife, Melissa, run the marketing firm Bodnar Creative.

The importance of collecting rare and special books for use as unique research tools has been recognized by the MSU Libraries since its beginning in the mid-nineteenth century.

Today, Special Collections holds over 450,000 printed works, numerous manuscript and archival collections and an extensive collection of collectibles supporting research in popular culture, radicalism, comic art and gender.

All of the materials may be seen and used in the Special Collections reading room during open hours.

By: Cindy Morgan