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Lawrence Jessup furniture collection

Identifier: Collection 255

Scope and Contents

The collection contains various newspaper clippings, trade publications, brochures, photographs and negatives, notes, original typewritten articles, correspondence, and organization-related directories and other papers. The majority of the documents in this collection relate to the Grand Rapids furniture industry, but a significant percentage deal with other topics of interest to Lawrence Jessup. Included is material relating to the Grand Rapids Furniture Designers Association, documents, including directories, newsletters, financial reports, correspondence, notes, and articles; Social Civic Club documents, primarily correspondence; and files containing information on topics of interest to Jessup, many furniture-related. In addition, several brochures, newspaper clippings, photographs, and other documents unrelated to the furniture industry are included in this collection.

One significant non-furniture element is a set of 15 photographs taken at Senator Arthur Vandenberg's funeral at Park Congregational Church, Grand Rapids. Then-Congressman Gerald R. Ford appears in three of these images.

Most of the Jessup collection consists of documents gathered for research purposes, presumably for the writing of his articles; only a small proportion of this collection (perhaps 10-15 percent) consists of Jessup's original work. Of these documents (newspaper clippings and typewritten articles), many do not cite an author; it is therefore impossible to make an accurate statement as to how much of the material was written by Jessup. Nor is this collection comprehensive in terms of Jessup's work; furthermore, it lacks a full bibliography of any kind. In addition to the scarcity of information regarding Jessup's authorship, this collection lacks background information about Jessup himself. With the exception of the organization-related data, all bibliographic details concerning Jessup's life were found in external sources.


  • 1920-1979


Biographical / Historical

Lawrence Fremont Jessup was born in Michigan (probably Kent County), 18 June 1904. He was the younger of two sons of Austin B. and Sula M. Jessup. Information about his childhood and education is currently unavailable.

Lawrence “Jim” Jessup began his career as a newspaper reporter in 1927 at The Grand Rapids Press, where he worked for two years. From 1929 to ca. 1954 he worked as a news reporter for The Grand Rapids Herald. This was followed by a brief period of reporting for Fairchild Publications (including Daily News Record and Women's Wear Daily) from 1955 to 1960. Jessup was particularly interested in the flourishing Grand Rapids furniture industry, and many of his news articles focused on this topic. His interests were also reflected in his freelance writing for such publications as Retailing, Retailing Daily and Home Furnishings Daily.

Jessup was an associate/honorary member of the Grand Rapids Furniture Designers Association from ca. 1953 to ca. 1972. During this time he published a number of news articles about the history and current activities of the association. He was also an active member of the Social Civic Club of Grand Rapids Township from ca. 1943 to ca. 1979, during which time he served as corresponding secretary. Jessup was elected president of the club in 1971 and 1975, and was unofficially referred to as the “club historian.”

During his reporting years Lawrence Jessup lived in Grand Rapids, moving frequently until his marriage to Elizabeth R. “Betty” Prout, a schoolteacher, ca. 1930 or 1931. They had two daughters: Jane and Sarah. In 1966, Jessup and his wife moved to Rockford, Michigan, where they resided until his death on 19 June 1984.


3 Linear Feet (Four boxes)

Language of Materials



Lawrence F. “Jim” Jessup (1904-1984) was a Kent County, Michigan newspaper reporter and freelance writer. He was particularly interested in the Grand Rapids furniture industry, and he wrote numerous articles about the history and current news of this important local industry. The collection documents Jessup's work as a reporter, particularly his research into the Grand Rapids furniture industry. Included are newspaper clippings, trade publications, photographs and negatives, handwritten notes, typewritten articles, and correspondence dealing with the furniture industry, including material related to the Grand Rapids Furniture Designers Association. Also included is material relating to the Social Civic Club of Grand Rapids Township and photographs of the funeral of Senator Arthur Vandenberg, including Congressman Gerald Ford among the attendees.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Mrs. Lawrence Jessup, 1988, accession number 1988.014.

Related Materials

Coll. 204, Grand Rapids Furniture Designers Association Records. Jessup was an active member of this organization, and he wrote several articles about its history and activities. Additional information about Jessup or articles authored by him may exist in this collection.

Coll. 233, Grand Rapids Public Library Furniture Industry Collection. Publications in this collection may include articles written by Jessup. One image in this collection has been identified as having verso ID: Return to L.F. Jessup, 433 Hubbard St., G.R.

Coll. 084, Furniture Manufacturers Association, Grand Rapids Area Records.

Coll. 043, Morris Photo Collection. Makes reference to an article written by Lawrence Jessup in Antiques Magazine, September 1930, entitled “The Tobacconists' Tribe of Treen.”

Coll. 230, Rooks Studio Collection. May include additional furniture-related photographs by photographer Dale Rooks.

Coll. 151, Kenneth C. Welch Architecture and Design Collection. The Jessup collection contains an article and photograph by Welch (in “shopping center” material, Box 3, Folder 18).

Other information about the Grand Rapids furniture industry can be found in several other collections or sources throughout the archives. Ask staff for assistance in accessing additional sources.

Finding aid for the Lawrence Jessup furniture collection
Audrey Riojas
June 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Grand Rapids History Center Repository

Grand Rapids Public Library
111 Library Street NE
Grand Rapids Michigan 49503 USA