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Richard Vander Molen Collection

Identifier: RH-A-3751

Scope and Contents

This collection consist of newsletters, publications, staff directories, informational ephemera, and other materials regarding Bronson Methodist Hospital, the Bronson School of Nursing, being a Bronson employee, and the Bronson Retiree Association


  • Creation: 2015 (Time the file was created)


Biographical / Historical

In 1896, Bronson Methodist Hospital got its start when land was acquired by a group of physicians fearing Kalamazoo’s growing population would outgrow the capabilities of Borgess Hospital, the only hospital in the city at the time. Just after the beginning of the 20th century, the same group physicians formed the Kalamazoo Hospital Association and opened the Kalamazoo Hospital in a house on John Street. In 1903, the ground was broke for a brand new hospital building. On 5 December 1905, the new Kalamazoo Hospital was dedicated and opened for use. Bronson Hospital’s School of Nursing was established the same year as the ground breaking for the new hospital and continued operations until 1998. In 1907, the hospital was reorganized and renamed Bronson Hospital after the founder of Kalamazoo, Titus Bronson. On 1 May 1920, the hospital was taken over by the Michigan Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and renamed a final time, Bronson Methodist Hospital. In 1940, a new five story Bronson Methodist Hospital was opened which included an emergency room. Over the next five decades, Bronson Methodist Hospital would experience many new building additions, institutional expansions, and new programs. By 1982, Bronson had expanded so much that it became the Bronson Healthcare Group. In 1995, Bronson announced its plans to begin the construction of a totally new, upgraded hospital. The project would be constructed in three phases and take nearly a decade to finish. In 2005, the New Bronson project was completed and the new hospital opened. The new hospital turned out to be inadequate in space and some portions of the old Bronson are still in use today.

The collection was brought together by Richard Vander Molen. He was a Bronson employee for 41 years, starting in 1945, and has continued to be involved with Bronson during his retirement. In 2005, Mr. Vander Molen had a monograph published by the name, The Bronson I Knew: Gone…But Not Forgotten. The book is available in the Zhang Legacy Center’s reading room.


8 boxes

Language of Materials


Physical Description

This collection consists of 14.5 cubic feet of materials. A vast majority of the materials are 8.5 x 10 inches in size, but there are some oversized Bronson publications and smaller photographs. The Vander Molen collection mostly consist of employee, nursing, and retiree newsletters, along with other hospital publications, informational handout, and photographs. Included in the collection are some School of Nursing White Caps (yearbooks), a patch of the 40th anniversary of the School of Nursing, some newspaper clippings, and other miscellaneous documents. Most the materials date from Richard Vander Molen’s time at the Bronson beginning in 1945, but a hand full of materials date back to the 1910s and 1920s.

Overall, the collection’s materials are in great condition, but some the papers, publications, newspaper clippings and photographs have begun to fade away or yellow in color due to natural light or the passage of time. A few of the newsletters and publications were collected over a span of many years and even decades. We have kept duplicates of many of those items when possible, but in a few cases a bi-weekly or monthly publication is missing altogether. There are a couple of years missing for the series of School of Nursing White Caps (yearbooks) as well. Some of the newspaper clippings are beginning to deteriorate and have been photocopied to preserve the information in the articles from being lost. Most the photographs in the collection were not labelled properly and labels had to be created during the processing of the collection. A few of the photographs were photocopied from the original onto plain paper, but for the most part the photographs are in good condition. The black and white photographs in the collection are the most delicate. They have experiencing some fading and should be handled with gloves and extreme care. Whenever possible the collection’s materials have been organized by chronological order. Also, because of size issues with some of the materials, three legal-sized folder are included in box 8, but should be included in box 4 with the other The Catalyst newsletters.

The collection is divided into five subgroups: 1) Bronson Methodist Hospital History and General Information, 2) School of Nursing and Nursing Department, 3) Bronson Employees, 4) Bronson Retirees, and 5) Photographs.

The materials in Subgroup A (Bronson Methodist Hospital History/General Information) are all contained of box 1. It contains materials such as Bronson history/timeline handouts, multiple types of Bronson publications, some annual reports, staff directories (1994-1995, 2000-2011), hospital handouts for patients and visitors, and materials on Bronson’s growth overtime. Some of the materials date back to the 1920s, but most of the items date from Richard Vander Molen’s involvement with the hospital.

The materials in Subgroup B (School of Nursing and the Nursing Department) are contained in boxes 2-3. It contains information on the Bronson School of Nursing, the program’s curriculum, School of Nursing White Caps (yearbooks), a Nursing Department organizational structure from 1956, materials on the School of Nursing Alumni Association, the Bronson Bulletin newsletter produced by the School of Nursing Alumni Association, and other miscellaneous items.

The materials in Subgroup C (Bronson Employees) are contained in box 4-6. It contains materials like The Catalyst (1963-1987), Bronson Healthlines (1988-2014), and Bronson Milestones (2014-2015), all employee newsletters. Included in this subgroup are 1960’s employee hand books, an employee code of ethics, information on employee benefits, and other miscellaneous items. The majority of this subgroup’s materials are newsletters and most of the publications are in the collection, but there a few missing here and there. Some over-sized special editions of The Catalyst are contained in box 8, since boxes 4-6 are full of letter size materials.

The materials in Subgroup D (Bronson Retirees) are contained in box 7. It includes information on the Bronson Retiree Association, retiree benefits, and other miscellaneous materials. Most of this subgroup is made up of Bronson Retiree’s Newsletter (1986-2014).

The materials in Subgroup E (Photographs and Press Clippings) are contained in box 8. The photographs date from throughout the history of Bronson Methodist Hospital. A good portion of the photographs date back to before Richard Vander Molen’s time at Bronson. The oldest photographs in the collection date from the 1910s. Included in this subgroup is a folder of press clippings relating to Bronson Methodist Hospital.

Richard Vander Molen Collection Finding Aid
Matthew Machinski
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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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