My name is Heather S. and I have been interning at the University Archives for the last several weeks. For part of my internship I was asked to create a banner for student orientation using archival materials. (Check it out in the Wells Library lobby!) Over the course of the last few weeks I have gone through lots of file folders relating to Freshman Orientation/Induction. Among them were several freshmen diaries from the early 1900s. It has been extremely fascinating reading what life was like at I.U. back then. My favorite was that of Ralph Garriott from 1921. Garriott wrote not only about his studies, but also included small pieces about his day-to-day life, including when he woke up, where he dined and countless entries about his tennis matches. Another interesting entry I stumbled across was that of the 100th Anniversary of Indiana University, in which Ralph writes, “Today is the 100th birthday of the University, and as a result we had a vacation after the eight and nine oclock [sic] classes. I played some tennis with Morgan this morning.” I bet the students were very excited to have no classes the rest of the day; I know I would be.
Correspondence was also scattered among these files, such as students writing letters home to their parents explaining what was happening in their lives at the University. Although many of us use e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter to correspond, obviously none of this existed in 1921 when Garriott was in school.
Established in 1820, Indiana University has a long history of welcoming new students to Bloomington. With holdings of more than 17,000 cubic feet of records, including over 2 million photographic images and thousands of films, the Wells Lobby display highlights a small portion of the Indiana University Archives’ holdings about new student orientation and the move to Bloomington. Want to know more? Contact the Archives!
–Archivist in training