Robert W. Schoening Papers

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Robert W. Schoening Papers

This Deep Blue collection forms part of a larger body of material related to Robert W. Schoening at the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index of materials, please consult the online finding aid or contact References and Access Services.

German-born resident of Saginaw, Michigan; worked variously as a laborer, mechanic, shop foreman, factory superintendent, and traveling salesman. Includes scattered correspondence and unpublished literary works and essays with details of early cross-country automobile travel on the Yellowstone Trail and Lincoln Highway and perspectives on Michigan’s manufacturing economy.

Robert W. Schoening was born in Germany on September 13, 1878 to Charles and Lena Pettit Schoening and married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Maud Frazer in Port Huron, Michigan on June 18, 1902. He worked as a laborer, mechanic, shop foreman, factory superintendent, and a traveling salesman in his lifetime.

In 1919 he was offered a position as a salesman in the western United States; he and his wife subsequently drove from Saginaw, Michigan to Portland, Oregon along the Yellowstone Trail transcontinental automobile route and spent the ensuing year and a half traveling around the Pacific Northwest, California, Nevada, and Utah. The couple returned to Michigan in 1921 (partially by way of the Lincoln Highway) and Schoening produced several manuscripts (perhaps intended for publication in different magazines) that detailed their experiences on the road, with descriptions of places they visited (including Flint, Chicago, Reno, Salt Lake City, and Yellowstone), their daily routine in driving and camping, and the often tenuous conditions of the roads and highways.

In addition to his travelogues, Schoening was an aspiring author (at one point he sought publishing advice from author James Oliver Curwood) and wrote philosophical, economic, and practical essays as well as a novel (Red Biz) that explored conditions and relationships in an early twentieth century factory and which he sought to have published shortly before his death on June 3, 1923 in Saginaw, Michigan.

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Copyright held by the Regents of the University of Michigan.

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