Archives anniversary project seeks student-group histories

Archives anniversary project seeks student-group histories

Students prepare to compete in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln's 13th rodeo, held in 1971. The event is organized annually by the Rodeo Club.
University Archives and Special Collections
Students prepare to compete in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln's 13th rodeo, held in 1971. The event is organized annually by the Rodeo Club.

The University Archives is celebrating its 50th year by issuing a call to collect the histories of Nebraska’s recognized student organizations.

The project, led by the University Libraries’ Mary Ellen Ducey, university archivist and associate professor, and Blake Graham, a digital archivist and assistant professor, is intended to expand and enhance student life collections within the archives.

Graham said the archives’ existing collections include documents, photographs and related materials from about 100 student organizations that have existed over the course of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s nearly 150-year history. This semester, there are more than 570 recognized student organizations registered and active with Student Involvement.

“A large part of the University Archives’ collection includes administrative and official records from the university’s history,” Graham said. “However, there’s not a lot in there about campus life, culture and the social networks that have existed.

“This 50th anniversary project is designed to close that gap so the collection reflects the richness of student life on campus.”

A couple kisses as students look on during the Delta Upsilon Christmas party in 1939. As part of its 50th anniversary, the University Archives and Special Collections is expanding its historic records from Recognized Student Organizations.

The project will build a shared history for each organization’s active members and alumni, preserve activities and achievements as part of the university’s history, and show future students and researchers what life was like for Nebraska students.

All types of items — from paper records and photographs to digital counterparts — are being collected. Participating RSOs can opt to donate materials directly to the archives.

“We’re asking any interested RSO to submit all the materials they have available — from documents that date back 100 years to photos from last week,” Graham said. “Our archivists will take a look at whatever is submitted.

“Ultimately, this is about preserving important elements of university history before they disappear.”

Recognized student organizations interested in participating should contact the University Archives and Special Collections directly.

The University Archives formed officially in 1968 with the appointment of the first university archivist. It maintains a permanent record of campus history, including official administrative documents and records, organizing them for access by the public. The primary purpose is to serve the administrative, teaching, research and public service needs of the university.

In 1978, University Archives merged with the Rare Books and Special Collections unity to become University Archives and Special Collections.

Nebraska students stand on the steps of the Nebraska Union during a protest of Initiative 413 in this image from 1999. The measure, which failed, proposed to reduce government spending by limiting the amount of tax revenue available for state and local governments to spend. This protest was organized by the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska.

Along with the call for student organization records, the University Archives is celebrating its 50th anniversary through a series of exhibitions and public presentations. The exhibitions are on display outside the University Archives’ office, Love Library South, Room 29.

The public presentations, called Archives Afternoons, are offered once a month through November. The events are 1 to 2 p.m. in the Adele Learning Commons in Love Library North. The next Archives Afternoons event is April 19 and explores collecting documents and records related to Willa Cather. Learn more about the series and upcoming topics.

Learn more about the University Archives and Special Collections.

Innocents Society members, including Richard Davis, a Husker running back who played in the National Football League, pose in this image from 1968. Davis, a graduate of Omaha North High School, was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 12th round of the 1969 NFL draft. He played a single season in the NFL with the Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints.