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K.I. Sawyer Support Group records

Identifier: MSS-062

Scope and Contents note

This collection contains the personal files of Ellwood Mattson pertaining to his role as chairperson of both the K.I. Sawyer Support Group (KISSG) and the K.I. Sawyer Base Conversion Authority. The bulk of the collection, ranging in date from 1990 to 1993, consists of correspondence that documents the group’s effort to save the base. Remaining material includes copies of the laws, studies, reports produced on both sides of the issue, and a sparse amount of administrative records. A large collection of newspaper clippings document the public face of the efforts made to save K.I. Sawyer from closure. Missing from the collection are the group’s video & visual presentations. Also, the collection contains very little internal correspondence between Mattson and other members of the group. The processor separated the following items from the collection for alternate storage: 1) a map of Marquette County; 2) A cassette recording of Chairman Courter of the Realignment Commission; 3) A small box of stickers with the group logo.


  • 1990 - 1993


Conditions Governing Access note

No restrictions. Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use note

Permission to publish material from the K.I. Sawyer Support Group records, MSS-062, must be obtained from the University Archivist. The University Archivist may be reached by phone at 906-227-1225, or e-mail, The University Archivist may also be reached in Room 126 of the Learning Resource Center, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI.

Historical Note

The federal government announced the closure of the K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base in June 1993. In an effort to prevent the closure, local civic leader and banker, Ellwood Mattson, formed the K.I. Sawyer Support Group (KISSG) and became the group’s chairperson. KISSG sought to keep the base open by lobbying the federal government’s Realignment Committee headed by Congressman James Courter. KISSG began fundraising and commissioned the National Securities Analysts of Arizona to produce a “White Paper” detailing the disadvantages to base closure. KISSG worked in tandem with local Air Force officials to conduct tours & forums at the base to show individual committee members what the base had to offer, they also encouraged a massive letter writing campaign by local government officials, business owners, and the public at large. The group was unsuccessful, and the base closed in 1995.

Following the closure of the base, Governor John Engler signed the act that created the K.I. Sawyer Base Conversion Authority and appointed Ellwood Mattson as chairperson. The purpose of this group was to work with the Air Force to ease the transition from military to civilian use of the physical base. As the conversion authority chair, Mattson commissioned three major feasibility studies from the Grier Corporation, including one that considered reuse of the airport as a commercial facility. The Conversion Authority operated for 5 years and relinquished its redevelopment duties to Marquette County in 1998.


2 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement note

This collection is arranged into four series: I. Correspondence; II. Administrative records; III. Consulting groups; and IV. Newspaper clippings.

Series Descriptions:

1. Correspondence

This series documents communication between Ellwood Mattson and various government and private individual involved in base conversion. The most interesting item in these records is a letter from Revord Law Firm in Munising, detailing a SDI concept that Mr. Revord had patented & was proposing that it be used as a mission for the base. Missing is any correspondence between members of the support group

2. Administrative Records

This record series represents a sparse and sporadic collection of the group’s agendas, minutes, & financial reports. The most interesting item in these records is an expanded list of support group members outside the executive committee.

3. Consulting Groups

This record series documents the relationship between KISSG and two consulting groups hired to produce reports and studies on base reconversion. The Grier Corporation produced three studies for the Conversion Authority.

4. Newspaper Clippings

This record series contains local and national news coverage of the efforts to keep K.I. Sawyer open.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Gift from Ellwood Mattson in 1999.

Related Archival Materials Note

Researchers should also consider The Gwinn Area Chamber of Commerce records, MSS-106 and the Northern Michigan University K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base Extension Office records, Univ. Series 6.

Separated Materials Note

An Eastern Marquette County Public Land Map was separated to flat storage cabinet 6.

K.I. Sawyer Support Group records
Robert Hendrikson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

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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