The John D. Voelker Papers Digitization Project

Material Description

In 1992, Grace T. Voelker, John’s widow, donated the papers to Northern Michigan University. The John D. Voelker papers document Voelker's life, his career as a lawyer, prosecuting attorney of Marquette County, and associate justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, and his activities as a writer and a celebrated trout fisherman. There is also material on the Voelker and Traver (maternal side) families from their arrival in the United States. The records cover the years 1871 to 1992, with most of the items covering the period between 1930 and 1990. The legal case files shed light on economic and social conditions in Marquette County during the 1930s and 1940s, including the contentious1946 iron miners’ strike. The published and unpublished manuscripts document Voelker’s development as a writer and the effort he put into crafting his works. In particular, the collection includes iterations of edited manuscript drafts and annotated notes. Of particular note, are the handwritten drafts of Voelker’s most famous novel, Anatomy of a Murder. The correspondence covers a wide range of subjects focused on judicial, fishing, and literary endeavors. The collection of letters also documents Voelker’s professional and personal relationships with a various literary, political, and judicial luminaries, such as Charles Kuralt, Otto Premminger, Glenn T. Seaborg, Hugo J. Melvoin, and Eilhu Winer. The collection also documents Voelker’s interest in environmental preservation. He was greatly concerned with pollution in Lake Superior and corresponded with Grant Merritt and Verna Mize on the Reserve Mining dumping issue.

Year Added:



Northern Michigan University


Mr. Marcus Robyns
Northern Michigan University

Dr. Mollie Freier
Northern Michigan University

Ms. Catherine Oliver
Northern Michigan University

Date Range

1871 - 1871

Geographic Scope

A native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the John D. Volker’s papers document much of the culture and politics of this unique region. The papers also document judicial, literary, and sport fishing subjects for Michigan and the Great Lakes region of the United States.


  • 106 Manuscripts