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Robert Van Blarcom Collection

Identifier: RH-A-4367

Scope and Contents

This collection is comprised of educational and business material dating from 1930 to 1941, owned by Robert Van Blarcom, who lived in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Most of the materials included in this collection consist of memorabilia from Robert Van Blarcom’s education. Van Blarcom attended Kalamazoo Public High School and Western State Teachers College (now Western Michigan University). The ledgers were made before Van Blarcom joined the company, and they list daily expenses and receipts during operations mostly in the 1930s. The diploma, dated June 22, 1936, has been signed by Dwight B. Waldo, President of WMU at the time. There are two commencement programs for Kalamazoo High School which date from 1927 and 1932; events were held at Central High Auditorium on June 15th both years. The graduation memory book is mostly empty except for some signatures near the last page. From Western State Teachers College, the Student’s Credit Books are for Robert Van Blarcom and his sister, Helen Van Blarcom, which date from 1936 and 1930, respectively.


  • Creation: 1930-1941

Biographical / Historical

Robert D. Van Blarcom was born on March 25th, 1913, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. In 1945, he joined the Johnson-Howard Company, which sold bricks at the time. Johnson Howard Co. was founded on October 10th, 1910, by Floyd B. Johnson and Raymond Howard. Van Blarcom took ownership of the company in 1950 after co-founder Floyd B. Johnson died, and it soon became the Johnson-Howard Lumber Company, as it had by then shifted its focus from various construction materials to lumber only. Van Blarcom died in Kalamazoo on April 1, 1999. In February 1995, the company was sold to Erb Lumber, Inc., who moved its lumberyards to Plainwell, Michigan, but continued to lease the Johnson-Howard space in Kalamazoo until 2005.


1.0 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Physical Description

The collection amounts to 1.0 cubic feet and contains a diploma, and business materials for the Johnson-Howard Company. The diploma measures 10.5x13.5”. It has two major vertical crease lines from being folded over twice. There are countless stains and moderate browning along the edges, but all the text is readable.

Included among the business materials are three ledgers for Johnson-Howard which are dated 1930-31, 1936-37, and 1938-41, measure approximately 16x19” and are bound in red leather. Their covers are worn, especially along the corners and edges, and the pages are yellowed along the edges but their legibility is not affected. Included among the school memorabilia are commencement programs, student’s credit books, and a graduation memory book.

All of the school memorabilia items are in a fragile state, some with creases and some have yellowed pages.

Robert Van Blarcom Collection finding aid
Stephanie Chapman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections Repository

Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collections Center
1650 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5307 US
(269) 387-8490