Researching in our Archives

This September Professor John Nordlof assigned his ENG 091 Fundamentals of Writing students a unique paper- “Eye on Campus”. The assignment required them to research aspects of Eastern University based on information obtained through primary resources. I asked John to describe the project and this is what he said,

“The students are asked to look at old Waltonians and student handbooks and see what they reveal about the way the university has changed over the years. Students are looking at such things as the way residence hall policies have changed over the years, student reactions to the two name institutional name changes, the history of various sports programs, and student responses to various national and world crises.”

What followed was a flurried & exciting use of the institution’s archives, which are meticulously maintained by University Archivist Fred Boehlke. Our Reserves Manager John Mokonyama placed on reserve many of the bound newspapers dating back to the earliest publications of The Spotlight (Eastern’s student newspaper prior to the Waltonian) from 1952 through 1960s. Early student handbooks were also placed on reserve for students to study.

Assignments like “Eye on Campus” are not only a wonderful use of the rich collection of primary source material on Eastern’s history that is housed in our archives, but it also connects students to Eastern’s history. Professor Nordlof commented that

“My experience with having students do this kind of work is that they find themselves with a greater identification with and appreciation of the institution by learning about its history. They also develop a sense of identity as scholars and researchers who are able to research questions and come up with answers for themselves.”

I did some research of my own in comparing how student life has changed over the years. Did you know that…

In 1952 – 1953, women living in Eastern’s domintory needed a sign out card?
“Any woman student who leaves the campus after 8:00 p.m. will sign the card denoting her destination. The card must be re-signed on her return.”

In 1966 – 1967 students were forbidden to cook in their dorm rooms?
“No cooking is permitted in dormitory rooms, nor are [sic] cooking facilities. Coffee pots, hot plates, etc., will be confiscated.”

The 1989 – 1990 student handbook comments on student sunbathing?
“Sunbathing is permitted at various locations on campus. Students are not, however, to us the roof of any campus building for sunbathing purposes.”

And my personal favorite.
The 1952 – 1953 handbook states the following as a library rule, “Twenty-five cents per day for overdue books in general circulation.”
In 2010, overdue library books are still $0.25 per day. It just goes to show that somethings never change…

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One comment

  1. The 25¢ overdue fees having unchanged since the library’s founding is shocking. That would be $2.04 today adjusted for inflation.

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