Friday, June 27, 2014

by Marian Matyn

After months of hard work by interns Mark Prindiville and Andrea Howard since January, Mark and I finally finished processing, boxing, labeling, and listing approximately 18 cubic feet of an addition to the Aladdin Company Collection. The company manufactured readi-made (kit) homes in Bay City and sold them through mail order catalogs. For lots of info on Aladdin, click here. The addition is mostly family papers, photographic materials, journals, correspondence, scrapbooks, films, slides, and a few business records.

Most of the films are of an airshow at James Clements Airport, Bay City in 1972. One is a St. Patrick's Day parade in the region; one is of houses being built.

There is documentation here and in the main collection of the very nasty and long divorce between Will J. and Mary Sovereign, which resulted in Michigan's no fault divorce law.

There is also documentation of Jeannette Lempke-Sovereign (January 19, 1899-Juy 14, 1966), the second wife of Will J. Sovereign, who was known as a pilot for the Aladdin Refining Company, advertising for Sovereign Oil. She was also a competitive flyer for national air races and was a part of the Ninety-Nines, an all-female pilot organization, for which she was later elected International President and of which Amelia Earhart and other early female pilots were members. See for more info on the ninety-nines.

There is WWII information on the conversion of the company to war work and Will's attempts to get into the Army Air Force. Homework and letters of children, blueprints of Will's yatch, and other architectural records are included too.

I am completing the finding aid and catalog record so it will soon be available to researchers via the Clarke Historical Library finding aid website.

MOLD/ALLERGY ALERT: Please note that the collection was treated in spring 2012 for mildew and mold and then deacidified. Some of the materials retain an unpleasant odor. Researchers with allergies should use caution when using the collection.