Fonds F-260 - Michael Fellman fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Michael Fellman fonds

General material designation

  • Textual records
  • Moving images
  • Sound recordings
  • Photographic materials
  • Records in electronic form (born-digital)
  • Records in electronic form (digitized)

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the name of the fonds creator.

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1963-2012 (Creation)
    Fellman, Michael
  • 1865-2012 (Dates of document)

Physical description area

Physical description

Paper and analog materials:
1.25 m of textual records and other materials

Born-digital materials:
6.14 GB of textual records and other materials

Digitized materials:
3 moving images and 1 sound recording (85.55 GB)

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Michael Fellman was Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University, best-known for his work on nineteenth-century American history and the American Civil War period. Fellman taught at SFU from 1969 to 2008. He passed away on June 11, 2012 at age 69.

Fellman was born on February 28, 1943 in Madison, Wisconsin to Sara Dinion Fellman and David Fellman, Vilas Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin. Michael began his university education at Oberlin College, completing his A.B. at the University of Michigan in 1965. He received a Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1969 and subsequently moved to Vancouver to join SFU's Department of History as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1974 and Full Professor in 1983. In 2000 he became the Director of the Graduate Liberal Studies program at Harbour Centre (SFU Vancouver). Fellman continued teaching at SFU until his retirement in 2008.

In the 1960s Fellman married fellow academic Anita Clair, and they had two sons, Joshua and Eli. The couple later divorced. On June 21, 1988 Fellman married Santa Aloi, a professor of dance in SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts; the marriage continued until his death. Fellman held dual US-Canadian citizenship, having obtained his Canadian citizenship in the 1990s.

Fellman's research centred on the United States in the nineteenth century, the American Civil War and American culture, with a focus on the topics of war, violence, culture, and personality. He published numerous articles and is the author or co-author of eight published books:

  • The Unbounded Frame: Freedom and Community in Nineteenth-Century American Utopianism (1973)
  • Making Sense of Self: Medical Advice Literature in Late Nineteenth-Century America (1981; with Anita Clair Fellman)
  • Inside War: The Guerrilla Conflict in Missouri During the American Civil War (1989)
  • Citizen Sherman: A Life of William T. Sherman (1995)
  • The Making of Robert E. Lee (2001)
  • This Terrible War: The Civil War and Its Aftermath (2002, with Lesley J. Gordon and Daniel E. Sutherland)
  • In the Name of God and Country: Reconsidering Terrorism in American History (2009)
  • Views from the Dark Side of American History (Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War) (2011).

Fellman was the recipient of numerous awards and honours. He was Faculty Convocation speaker at SFU in 2006. He received Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada fellowships in 1988-1989, 1990-1993, and 1996-2000. During leaves from SFU Fellman taught at the University of Haifa (Israel) in 1980-81 as Fulbright Professor and at Stanford University in 1992-93 as Visiting Professor. He received fellowships at the Shelby Cullom Davis Centre for Historical Studies at Princeton (1983-84), the Huntington Library (1985, 1991, 1998), and the Stanford Humanities Center (1992-93). His book on Sherman was a New York Times Notable Book of 1995, finalist for the Lincoln Prize, and Honorable Mention for the W.K. Ferguson Prize.

In addition to his scholarly output, Fellman was a regular contributor to the press. He wrote numerous book reviews, analyses of current events, and opinion pieces for various media outlets, including the Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Sun, and The Tyee. In honour of his memory, The Tyee and the SFU Department of History established the Michael Fellman Award for Historical Writing in 2012.

Outside the academy, Fellman also served at various times on the boards of a number of organizations: the Deborah Dunn Dance Company, Time Step Productions, Plan B Dance Company, Jewish Family Service Agency, and the College of Psychologists of British Columbia.

"Truly engaged history writing," Fellman wrote in his last work, "is anarchic or at least irreverent. It challenges authority; it is the assertion of freedom of thought against the constraints of received wisdom; it is the individual declaration that one need not be neutralized by the powerful fear of being isolated or derided, that one can find one's own voice."

Custodial history

Fellman's records were in his continuous custody prior to his death. The records were donated and transferred to SFU Archives in 2013 by his widow, Santa Aloi. The donation also included Fellman's SFU email account, maintained on SFU's electronic mail server. The university's IT Services department made a snapshot of the account in March 2013 and transferred it to the Archives in August 2018.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records made or received by Michael Fellman's in the course of activities relating to his teaching activity, research, scholarship, journalism, as well as his family and personal relationships. Records include correspondence, photographs, research notes, working papers, and teaching materials; offprints, lectures, and copies of newspaper articles authored by Fellman; and draft manuscripts of Fellman's published books, as well as two unpublished book projects – a study of "individuals fallen from respectability" in Victoria England (Uneminent Victorians), and a novel of the US Civil War (Dirty Civil War).

The fonds is a hybrid of paper records, analog media and born-digital materials. The digital records comprise email correspondence and files from Fellman's working computer.

The fonds has been arranged by the archivist into eight series:

  • Personal and family correspondence (series 1)
  • Teaching records and lectures (series 2)
  • University service and career records (series 3)
  • Research files and publications (series 4)
  • Journalism and media publications (series 5)
  • Email records (series 6)
  • Desktop correspondence and working documents (series 7)
  • Digital photographs (series 8)

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


Fellman's records were transferred to the Archives in three physically distinct groups: 7 banker's boxes of paper files; an external hard drive containing a backup of two computers; and his SFU email account (transferred by SFU's IT Services department). For the most part, these materials have been kept separate in the arrangement.

Paper files are distributed across series 1-5. The email has been assigned to its own series (series 6). The hard drive included separate directories for an iMac and a MacBook computer, with much duplication of content between the two. Hard-drive materials selected for retention were concentrated in the Desktop, Documents, and Pictures directories of each computer. The archivist assigned the digital photos to their own series (series 8). Of the remaining digital textual records, these were mainly grouped by Fellman into year-based folders or folders based on book projects. The year-based folders are assigned their own series (series 7). The manuscript-based folders have been integrated with the associated paper records in sub-series 4-2, Book and manuscript files.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

    Location of originals

    Availability of other formats

    The fonds includes a small number of media items (3 videotapes and an audiocassette) that have been digitized; the analog originals have been retained, but the Archives will provide access only to the digital surrogates.

    With born-digital records, the Archives' practice is to retain the materials in their original file formats and create normalized copies in designated access and preservation formats. Typically, researchers will the Archives will provide researchers the access copies, but it can provide copies in the original or preservation formats on request.

    Digitized and born-digital materials may or may not be directly available from the associated description in SFU AtoM, depending on access or copyright restrictions. Materials not directly available online may be delivered by off-line methods. Consult the Reference Archivist for more information about access to offline digital materials.

    Restrictions on access

    The bulk of the paper files are open with no restrictions. There are two main exceptions.

    (i) A number of paper files in series 3 and all digital folders in series 7 include copies of university records Fellman received in the course of his academic duties at SFU, and some of these records may contain the personal information of third parties. These files are marked "pending review" and must be assessed more closely by an archivist before access is provided. Consult the Reference Archivist for more information on access to these materials.

    (ii) Fellman's email account (series 6) contains extensive personal information of third parties; it is restricted and can only be accessed in the Archives' reading room under a Research Agreement. See the note on restrictions in series 6 for more detail.

    Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

    The fonds contains copyright-protected materials that fall into two main categories: (i) materials created by Fellman for which Fellman was the copyright owner; and (ii) materials received or collected by Fellman for which copyrights are owned by third parties.

    For type (i) materials in which Fellman held copyright – the donor transferred copyright to SFU. The Archives provides access to these under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license (CC BY-NC). Users are free to copy, share and adapt the materials as they like provided they credit Fellman as the creator, indicate any changes they have made, and use the works for a non-commercial purpose. All requests for commercial use should be made in writing to SFU Archives.

    For type (ii) materials in which third parties own copyright – the Archives will make copies available for private study or research purposes under the fair dealing provisions of Canada's Copyright Act. Use for any other purpose may require the permission of the copyright owner. SFU Archives can assist researchers in attempting to identify copyright owners, but it is the user's responsibility to contact owners and secure any permissions.

    Finding aids

    File list is available.

    Generated finding aid

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    No future accruals are expected.

    Physical description

    Analog materials: in addition to the paper files, the fonds includes 124 photographs, 25 negatives, 16 postcards, 3 videotapes, 1 audio cassette, and 1 DVD. Photographic materials are concentrated in series 1 and 4-2; they have been physically separated and removed to flat storage (container 11) for preservation purposes. Video materials are found in series 2-2, sound recordings in series 5. The video and sound recordings have been digitized and are available on request.

    Born-digital materials: the fonds includes 5853 email messages with attachments (579.5 MB), 2894 photographs (5.47 GB), 1025 textual records (81.55 MB), and 2 video files (10.5 MB). Born-digital records are concentrated in series 4-2 (manuscripts), 6 (email), 7 (desktop documents), and 8 (digital photographs).

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    Rules or conventions

    RAD July 2008 edition.



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    Dates of creation, revision and deletion

    Feb 2020: arrangement and description completed (RD).

    Language of description

    • English

    Script of description


      Accession area