The Johnson Center Philanthropy Archives and Special Collections preserves and promotes research in Michigan philanthropy in partnership with GVSU Libraries.

Our archives and special collections include a library, archives, and reference resources. The collections provide researchers with a scholarly resource of materials related to philanthropy and philanthropists in Michigan. The collections support the study and research interests of visiting scholars, GVSU faculty, students in the School of Public, Nonprofit, and Health Administration, and the general public.


How to Use the Archives and Library

Johnson Center Facility

Archives and special collections are housed at Grand Valley State University in physical or digital format.

Digital Collections

Our digital collections include interviews with Michigan philanthropists and highlights of collections from the Johnson Center Archives of philanthropy and philanthropists in the State of Michigan.

Collections and Reference Resources

The collection guides (also known as finding aids) are used to find, understand, and locate archival resources that include primary and secondary sources and unique reference materials.

Council of Michigan Foundation Records:


Online Library Search

View over 4,000 items in the collection. Titles are also accessible at local libraries statewide through MelCat. 

Grand Valley Library

Students, faculty, researchers, and the community are invited to visit the Philanthropy Reading Room at the Steelcase Library on GVSU’s Pew Campus in downtown Grand Rapids (campus map) and browse non-circulating reference materials and publications.

In-House Library

Johnson Center staff and students have access to in-house library materials onsite listed online at LibraryThing www.librarything.com/profile/johnsoncenter.

Managing and Donating Your Records

For information about preserving and maintaining your organization’s records, please refer to this guide: Johnson Center Philanthropy Archives: Managing Your Records

If you are interested in donating materials, please contact us.

Links to Other Philanthropic Archives and Libraries

The S.O.U.L. (Sharing Our Uncommon Legacy) of Philanthropy project collection holds raw material interviews with area philanthropists at the Grand Rapids Public Library. Clips of interviews are featured in a documentary about philanthropy and community building in Grand Rapids, “The Gift of All, a Community of Givers.”

Learning to Give provides creative educator resources for grades 6-12 that guide learners to create their own stories of giving. Briefing papers summarize the life and philanthropy of the individuals highlighted in the S.O.U.L. of Philanthropy documentary.

The Library of Congress produced a video guide to Archiving Digital Audio.