Any decent university archives will have tons of records documenting the activities of its students. However, when one looks more closely at the records, it quickly becomes apparent that most of this documentation represents an official student record, such as a transcript, an enrollment record or basic vital statistics about the student. Another characteristic of student records within most archives is that the records reflect the perspective of the IU administrators and faculty. In other words, many of the records in university archives related to student activities and culture were created by presidents, deans and directors. Consequently, these records provide a view of student life which is largely one dimensional or one sided, in that the documentation on student life is defined largely through the eyes of non-students.
In an effort to address the lack of documentation on student life as documented by students, a number of university archives have initiated programs or special projects to collect the records generated by student organizations, including student government groups at all levels and fraternities and sororities. In the last five years, the IUB Archives has identified the collection of the records of student organizations as a high priority. A big part of this initiative was to actively contact student organizations about their records and to offer our services in preserving and making the records accessible. Overall the initiative has been relatively successful; we have accessioned hundreds of linear feet of records from a wide variety of student organizations.
The Student Life at IU web site is a critical piece of the larger strategy to highlight student life and culture. The primary goal of the site is to depict and describe the cultural, social, and political activities of students during their time at Indiana University. In this portrayal we attempt to provide a more multi-dimensional picture of events by presenting both the “official” administrative view and response and the student perspective on the issues and events.
As our first exhibit, we chose to depict the 1960s, and specifically the major demonstrations, strikes and protests at Indiana University during that tumultuous decade. To describe these events we have pulled together from the Archives a wide variety of documents representing various perspectives on the issues and events. Among these records are photos; newspaper articles; resolutions, bills and official statements created by student organizations; statements on events generated by the IUB administration; and newsletters and flyers distributed by student groups.
In future exhibits on the IU Student Life site we are planning to explore the following topics: Student Life in the second half of the 19th Century; student life at IU during WWII; student life as depicted by diaries and journals created by IU students.
We would love to hear from you with any suggestions for future exhibits on the IU Student Life site. In the meantime, please explore Student Demonstrations at IU!
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