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Willson-Ortman photographs

Identifier: RHC-134

Scope and Contents

Photograph album, 130 x 177 mm. 21 leaves. Brown covers, stamped on the front with an image of a wigwam, trees, and a lakefront beach with the words "Snap Shots ǀ Indian Village ǀ St. Ignace, Mich." Contains 37 black-and-white photographs mostly glued in, but a few affixed with corner mounts; some photos had been removed before acquisition. These photo record a Willson family trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the summer of 1940. Scenes include the passenger ferry "City of Munising," views of lakeshores, camping, Copper Harbor, churches, and Tahquamenon Falls.

In addition, there are 23 loose photographs, of which three are in color. Most are of the Willson family, 1928-1948, and nine date from 1957-1959 after Sue and Robert were married. Locations include Saginaw, Thompsonville, and Big Star Lake (Lake County); most have captions.


  • 1928 - 1959


Access to the Materials

Collection is open for research use. Materials may be accessed by request at Special Collections and University Archives in Seidman House. Materials do not circulate.

Publication Rights

The collection is the physical property of Grand Valley State University, but all literary rights are retained by the original creators of materials, their estates, heirs, or third parties. It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure appropriate permissions for publication beyond the bounds of fair use.

Biographical Notes

Sue Carol Willson was born 24 May 1936 in Saginaw, Michigan. She was the eldest child of Harry Samuel Willson (1915-1998), a salesman, and Doris E. Hales Willson (1915-?), both of whom lived in Saginaw. Sue had two brothers: Jerry Lee Willson (1937-1992) and James G. Willson (born 1939). Sue married Robert L. Ortman, also a resident of Saginaw, most likely in 1955. Sue Willson died on 12 May 1992 and is buried in St. Andrew Cemetery, Saginaw, with her husband.

Robert Lawrence Ortman was born in 17 June 1929 in Tittabawassee Township, Saginaw County, Michigan. He was one of seven children of Arthur C. Ortman (1894-1940), a glass worker, and Florence C. Doherty Ortman (1898-1991). Robert's siblings were: Chester C. Ortman (1918-1989), Arthur L. Ortman (1920-2005), John William Ortman (1921-1985), Harold Ortman (1923-1991), Jacqueline Ortman Kuznicki (1928-2013), and Marjorie Joann Zimmerman (1936-1982), Robert was employed as a machinist at Saginaw Steering Gear. He and Sue lived at 2033 Janes Avenue in Saginaw. Robert died on 17 June 1999 and is buried in St. Andrew Cemetery, Saginaw, with his wife.


0.8 Linear feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Robert Beasecker, 2017.
Willson-Ortman photographs
Robert Beasecker
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Grand Valley State University Special Collections and University Archives Repository

Seidman House
1 Campus Drive
Allendale MI 49401 United States