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Lydia Siedschlag Papers

Identifier: RH-A-3643

Scope and Contents

This collection contains letters written between Lydia Siedschlag and Alfonso Ianelli, and some newspaper clippings.

Letters from Lydia are undated but topics covered indicate they are from 1934-1935 and the 1940s. Letters from Alfonso Ianelli are dated and cover 1934-1935 and one is from 1960. Newspaper clippings concern the Fountain of the Pioneers that Ianelli created for Bronson Park.

Topics in the letters range from where colleagues are working, how much Lydia’s students enjoyed meeting him, her time in New York, when he will visit again, and the changing of the terms at Western. People mentioned include Dwight Waldo and Paul Sangren.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1934-1935, 1940s, 1960


Lydia Siedschlag Biography

Lydia Siedschlag (1891-1980) taught art in the training school at Western State Normal School 1921-1922. She remained in the art department through several of Western’s name changes from 1922-1955. From 1924-1952 she was head of the art department.

Lydia was born in Flint, Michigan on February 12, 1891 and died in Kalamazoo, Michigan on May 6, 1980. In her time at what would become Western Michigan University, she influenced the artistic side of many of the major construction projects including most of the interior decorating of Walwood Hall and supervising students who created stained glass for the Kanley Chapel windows. Many of the College’s building descriptions were written by Lydia. She believed that art is not for art’s sake, but that art is for living. Gwen Frostic was one of her students.

Alfonso Ianelli Biography

Alfonso Ianelli was born in Andretta, Italy on February 17, 1888 and died in Chicago, Illinois on March 23, 1965. He was a sculptor, artist, and industrial designer who studied under Gutzon Borglum and designed some plaques for the Adler Planetarium. He and Lydia were peers and friends.


.10 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was purchased with funds from the Starring Endowment from Kelmscott in Benton Harbor.

Physical Description

This collection amounts to .10 cubic feet and is comprised of letters (dated and undated) and photocopies of undated Kalamazoo Gazette newspaper clippings. Lydia favored blue ink to compose her letters in large cursive letters that are artistic as well as legible. She used high quality white and blue papers. Most letters have minimal yellowing but a few have a moderate amount. They range in size from the largest at 8.5 x 13” and the smallest, a post card measuring 5.5 x 3.5”. Some are embellished with color art and designed by friends and students. Letters written to her from Alfonso Ianelli are typewritten on low quality paper measuring from 7 x 10.25” to 8.5 x 11”. His letters are heavily yellowed and brittle. Most have tearing on the edges but the text has wide margins and is not in the damaged area.

Lydia Siedschlag Papers finding aid
Stephanie Chapman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

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