Skip to main content

Constance Brown Hearing Center Collection

Identifier: RH-A-4373

Scope and Contents

The collection is composed of financial documents, Board of Directors meetings-related documents, photographs, scrapbooks, and other miscellaneous business records for the Constance Brown Hearing Centers, located in Kalamazoo Michigan from 1941 to the present.


  • Creation: 1941-current


Biographical / Historical

The Constance Brown Hearing Centers (CBHC) was founded to provide a non-profit agency to prevent hearing loss and help those who are hearing impaired. It was established through an estate gift to the Kalamazoo Community Foundation from Constance Brown. This estate gift is detailed in Constance Brown’s will which is included in the records. Constance Brown who was born in 1877 and died in 1939 was a prominent resident in Kalamazoo who herself experienced hearing loss. There is a photograph of her within the collection with a corresponding nameplate. Constance Brown Hearing Centers opened its doors in 1942 under the name Constance Brown Society for Better Hearing. The name changed a few times by the time the name printed on the last few records.

The first executive director for CBHC was Alfred R. Thea from 1942 to 1961. The collection includes a photograph of him with the corresponding nameplate. The second executive director was Alvin J. Davis from 1961 to 1994 and also there is a photograph of him within the collection with the corresponding nameplate. From 1942 to the 1970s CBHC provided Kalamazoo public schools hearing screenings before it was mandated by the federal government to have all children be tested. In 1957 CBHC became an agency of the community chest which later evolved into a member agency of the Greater Kalamazoo United Way. There is a lot of document material related to the Greater Kalamazoo United Way attached to the meeting minutes. The CBHC was supported by the Kiwanis Club and the letters between each other are included in this collection. There are two scrapbooks- #1 and #2 filled with newspaper clippings of important articles, name mentions of the CBHC, and other miscellaneous clippings from the 1940s to the 1980s. There is also a folder that also includes a miscellaneous newspaper clipping that the CBHC found to be important and many clipping reference materials attached to the meeting minutes. In 1976 the hearing center was involved in a court case and records of that case are included in the collection. In 1997 Constance Brown Hearing Centers created commercials that were taped on VHS tapes and are included in this collection along with other cassette tapes and VHS tapes. In 2001 the Constance Brown Hearing Center moved from the Stryker Center to a new building. Scrapbook #3 details the journey from the old building to the new one through photographs and notations. In 2005 the Constance Brown Hearing Centers had its 65th anniversary which they had an open house celebration. There is a folder that includes photographs of this celebration along with pamphlets.

In January 2023, the CBHC became a part of the Bronson Healthcare system. They changed the name to Bronson Constance Brown Hearing Center (BCBCH). Everything stayed the same with this change. There are no records in this collection that talk about this merger since the last record in the collection is from 2011. The BCBCH provides its services in four locations- 1634 Gull Road, Kalamazoo, 4855 West Centre Avenue in Portage, Bronson Methodist Hospital, and Bronson Battle Creek Hospital. The legacy of Constance Brown continues through an endowment fund to assist those who are hearing impaired and need financial assistance.


5.5 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was attained through Ellen Silberman, a board member of Constance Brown Hearing Centers due to the merger between Constance Brown Hearing Centers and Bronson Hospital.

Physical Description

The collection amounts to 5.50 cubic feet and is composed of financial documents, Board of Directors meeting-related documents, a notebook of the Constance Brown Trustee Corporation, photographs, scrapbooks, material that is taken out of scrapbooks, media, and miscellaneous business records which all date from 1941 to 2011 for Constance Brown Hearing Centers in Kalamazoo Michigan.

There is a ledger that measures 9 x 11-1/2 x 1-1/2 and is made up of documents from 1967 relating to the Constance Brown Trustee Corporation. The collection also has a handful of photographs that are 4 x 6 on glossy paper plus three photographs with corresponding nameplates of executive members which range in sizes from 7-1/4 x 9-1/4 to 8-1/4 x 10.

There are three scrapbooks ranging in size from 12-1/2 x 12-3/4 x 1-1/4 to 14-1/2 x 12 x 1 with between 14 and 30 pages. Scrapbook #1 has newspaper clipping tapped onto the paper pages with the binding and covers being a plastic leather. Scrapbook #2 with other news clippings is sealed onto the pages with plastic, the cover is also made of plastic leather. Scrapbook #3 is a blue cover with scrapbook pages made and then placed inside sleeves; the scrapbook covers are made out of woven material. There are also two VHS videos and three cassette tapes.

Documents make up most of the collection besides the photographs and three scrapbooks and a few media items. The documents include financial audits, compilation and review reports, balance sheet summaries, treasurer’s reports, financial reports, summaries of cash balances, service reports, a court case, Constance Brown’s will, Board of Directors meeting minutes, meeting minutes, meeting sign-in sheets, letters from the Kiwanis club, material that accompanied the Board of Directors meetings, policy and procedure standards 1 through 25, material taken out of scrapbooks and miscellaneous paper that include some undated ones. These documents were important to the running of the organization and the Board of Directors meetings that took place. Most of the documents come from the Board of Directors meetings from 1941 to 2010 that are attached to the material discussed in the meeting minutes or agendas. The material in box 5 includes all the information from the policies and procedures standards including revisions and updates. Most of these documents were a standard paper size 8-1/2 x 11 except for Constance Brown’s will which measures 8-1/2 x 13. Most documents were printed on one side and were stapled together if need be. They are mostly made out of paper but some of the older records are made out of thin typing paper. The older records were typed by a typewriter and the newer ones were typed then printed. Some of the later records use colored paper, especially in the policy and procedures documents.

The collection is in an overall decent condition. The older records are more fragile than the more recent ones. Records from the 1940s to the late 1980s appear to have yellowed pages because of their age. The records that are on typing paper are very thin and wrinkly from age over time. Some of the typing ink is smudged on the older paper. Some of the older stapled paper have rust stains from the staple. Most documents are three-hole punched from being in 3-ringed binders. The blue scrapbook is in pretty well-kept condition. The other two have seen some wear. Their covers are dirty and faded with markings on them. The newspaper in the one has started to deteriorate and the pages have started to yellow. The edges of some clippings are dirty from age. The other scrapbook that has clippings encased in plastic is in better condition than just the taped-on clipping. The pages are just yellowing. The photographs are in good condition with no smudges or wear. The three larger photographs were taken out of frames so they do have tape still on them from being attached to photo boards for the frames. The corresponding nameplates are attached to the photo board but the excess photo board around the nameplate has been cut off so the edges are worn. The VHS and cassettes are dusty from age. Most of the collection has seen wear in some kind of way including bent edges, tears, smudges, and markings.

Constance Brown Hearing Center Collection finding aid
Nicole Page; 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