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William L. Robinson papers

Identifier: MSS-191

Scope and Contents Note

This collection contains field research notes and data compiled by Dr. William L. Robinson of the Northern Michigan University Biology Department pertaining to his Michigan wildlife research, as well as correspondence from his time at Northern Michigan University. Significant topics include St. Mary's Mammals, Citizens to Save Superior Shorelines, Spruce Grouse research, Ruffed Grouse research, and his relocation of wolves to the Upper Peninsula project. The collection includes reports, correspondence, photographs, and manuscripts from 1950 to 2000.


  • 1950 - 2000


Conditions Governing Access note

Boxes 17-18 contain student information and personal identification and are restricted without a completed FOIA form

Conditions Governing Use note

Permission to publish material from the William L Robinson papers, MSS-191, must be obtained from the University Archivist. The University Archivist may be reached by phone at 906-227-1046, or e-mail, The University Archivist may also be reached in Room 126 of the Learning Resource Center, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI.

Biographical Note

A native of the Upper Peninsula town of Ironwood, Michigan, William Laughlin Robinson was born in 1933. Robinson graduated from Marquette's Graveraet High School, earned his B.S. in game management from Michigan State University, his M.S. in wildlife biology from the University of Maine in 1959, and his Ph.D. in zoology at the University of Toronto. He also did post-doctoral work in systems ecology at San Diego State University. He served as an alto saxophone player at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and Fort Shatter, Hawaii, from 1954 to 1956.

Robinson served as a professor of Biology at Northern Michigan University from 1964 until his retirement in 1998. He was a national authority on wildlife management and published dozens of articles in professional journals. Robinson published several books, including "Wildlife Ecology and Management," the leading text in the field, and the well-received "Fool Hen, the Spruce Grouse on the Yellow Dog Plains," a monograph resulting from research done in the field.

Some biographical information taken from Robinson's work "Fishing with My Uncles."


17 Cubic Feet

1 Cubic Feet (Box 18 is 0.5 cubic feet)

Language of Materials


Arrangement note

Boxes have been processed and folders moved to corresponding boxes of similar topics/research, for the most part items in folders have maintained original order.

This collection is divided into “six” records series: I. Research Locations, 2 boxes, (1965-1996); II. Research Animals, 7 boxes, (1965-2001), with a subseries IIa. Wolf Translocation, 1 box, (1921-1998); III. Correspondence and Research, I box, (1964-1998); IV. Professional Organizations, 2 boxes, (1967-1999); V. Activism, 1 box, (1969-1998); and VI. Northern Michigan University, 4 boxes, (1964-1999).

The first series, Research Locations documents research Robinson did on different tracts of land and the indigenous wildlife. Box 1 covers the St. Mary’s River area. The St. Mary’s River is a natural border between the UP and Canada and connects Lake Superior to Lake Huron. Most of the research Robinson performed in this area was between 1979 and 1982, and dealt with wildlife movement across the frozen river in the winter months. Much of the series is comprised of data collection forms and surveys. Box 2 covers Robinson’s work in the McCormick Tract of land and Beaver Basin in creating wildlife management programs for the two areas.

The Research Animal series (boxes 5-9) documents Robinson’s research into animals and human interactions, and their behaviors in the upper peninsula. Included is literature on these animals, many of which were endangered in the Upper Peninsula area, as well as some field research and data presented in both raw and published form.

The Wolf Translocation subseries (Box 10) contains all of Robinson’s field research and reports concerning the 1974 translocation of five timber wolves from a population in Minnesota to the upper peninsula of Michigan. Robinson was one of the lead researchers on the project and his collection contains literature written by himself and other colleagues about wolf behaviors, habitat necessities, and wolf populations in the area. Included in this subseries are news releases that documented the transplant both locally and nationally and several conferences and organizational meetings where Robinson gave talks on the translocation project. Robinson continued his research of wolf populations and movements in Minnesota and Wisconsin following the relocation of the original five up to the mid-nineties, heading projects for both Earthwatch and Northern Michigan University.

The Correspondence series (Box 11) covers a broad timespan from 1964 to 1998 and contains many of Robinson’s personal correspondence to family and friends, as well as letters centering around his research projects. These letters provide updates about specific projects that he was working on, as well as his attempts to receive funding for new projects. (Note: all correspondence dealing with the wolf relocation and the potential for another project in 1991 were moved to the Wolves subseries- Box 10).

The Professional Organizations series (boxes 12-13) documents the many conferences, meetings, and ceremonies that Robinson attended or was invited to attend for the years 1967 to 1999. All of the conferences focused on some aspect of wildlife or natural resource conservation and research.

The Activism series (Box 14) documents Robinson’s work with the Citizens to Save the Superior Shoreline (CSSS) and his work coauthoring his Wildlife Ecology and Management book with Eric Bolen, along with several other manuscripts written by Robinson on the importance of conservation of natural resources. As a member of CSSS, Robinson participated in the development of a management plan for Little Presque Isle and Wetmore Landing. Correspondence between locals, the Little Presque Isle Advisory Committee, and the state are included and narrate the different perspectives and goals of all parties involved. This series also includes three multimedia components of different interviews and televised studies.

The Northern Michigan University series (boxes 15-18) covers Robinson’s time as a professor of Biology at the university. Included in the series are correspondences between Robinson and his students, as well as other colleagues in the department, and teacher evaluations for Robinson for the years 1972 to 1994 (Box 16). Box 15 is dedicated to Robinson’s course materials for his Ecology, Wildlife Management, and Population Ecology classes and the related student assignments. Robinson’s Wildlife Management course materials were largely used as a basis for his Wildlife Management book.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Gift of William L. Robinson in 1998. Robinson's daughter, Becky Tavernini, transferred subsequent accessions to the Archives.

Separated Materials

Krista Clumpner separated "Physiological and Ecological Responses of Spruce Grouse (Canachites canadensis) to Blood Parasitism in Northern Michigan" 1969 Thesis by Mark J. Leider to special collections, 12/02/2021.

William L. Robinson papers
In Progress
Marcus C. Robyns
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 6/17/2010: Finding aid revision description not supplied
  • 10/25/2022: Unprocessed boxes processed and finding aid revised

Repository Details

Part of the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives Repository

Harden Learning Resources Center 126
1401 Presque Isle Ave
Marquette 49855 United States
906-227-1333 (Fax)


This collection guide includes collections from member organizations of UPLINK (the Upper Peninsula Digital Network) as well as the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives. UPLINK collections document the history of the Upper Peninsula broadly, while the Central UP & NMU Archives focuses on such topics as Northern Michigan University history, the local iron mining industry, and the politics, economics, religion, environment, and culture of the Central Upper Peninsula region.

These finding aids will give you an overview of the contents and context of each collection. Finding aids only exist for collections that each organization has shared with UPLINK or (in the case of the NMU Archives) for processed collections. For a more comprehensive list of collections that might help with your research, please contact the relevant heritage organization(s) directly.

Northern Michigan University
1401 Presque Isle Ave. • Marquette, MI 49855-5301 • 906–227–1000
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