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IUB Archives

New collection! Union Board records, 1912-2010

Indiana University boasts a diverse, active student body with more than seven hundred registered student organizations on the Bloomington campus. Despite outreach efforts, many student groups are not officially represented in the Indiana University Archives at present. The Union Board, the governing body of the Indiana Memorial Union and the largest student programming group on campus, is one exception.

A newspaper clipping which depicts a minstrel serenading a table of diners at the Union Board sponsored Madrigal Dinner, 1965. The Madrigal Dinners were extravagant annual productions on the IU campus from 1947-2001.

The Union Board records at the IU Archives, which span the years from 1912-2010 (bulk 1922-2010), represent rich documentation of student-led initiatives and activities at Indiana University throughout most of the group’s hundred-plus year history. Materials–including meeting minutes, other administrative documents, group sponsored publications, records from various programs and events, and a number of videocassette recordings–are described online and available to researchers in the Archives’ reading room with advance notice. In addition, the minutes from the Union Board records are slated for digitization in the coming months, thus researchers near and far will have access to nine decades of administrative decisions, which offer a unique, student-oriented perspective on Indiana University history.

John Whittenberger, student and founder of the Union Board, 1909

The Union Board was originally organized by John M. Whittenberger in 1909 as an organization that would “further the interests of Indiana University and her students.” Founding members included male students and two individuals in advisory positions, including University President William L. Bryan. In its early years, the male-only group met in the Student Building and old Assembly Hall before construction of the Indiana Memorial Union building was completed in 1932. In 1952, women were first admitted to the Union Board following a merger with the Association of Women Students.

A promotional photograph of British rock band Jethro Tull. The band played a concert sponsored by the Union Board on October 31, 1975

Over time, the Union Board grew to consist of a governing body including an elected student Executive Team and group of student Committee Directors. As of 2011, the Union Board supported thirteen active programming committees overseen by three executive team members, making a combined total of sixteen student positions, all of whom work in tangent with Staff Advisors, Faculty and Alumni Representatives, and the Executive Director of the Indiana Memorial Union.

A publicity photograph of acclaimed author and poet Maya Angelou, who lectured at a Union Board sponsored program on April 11, 2001


The goal of the Union Board is to serve students, faculty, alumni and the greater IU Bloomington community through a diverse range of events, activities, and programs. Major recurring activity initiatives organized by the Union Board include film screenings, concerts, performing arts acts, comedy shows, lectures, debates, the publication of Canvas arts magazine, Live From Bloomington local music programming, holiday Madrigal Dinner performances, and a variety of international and culturally oriented events, many of which are documented in the Union Board records. From rock concerts to lectures by worldwide diplomats, the collection has much to offer in terms of gauging student interests and trends throughout the years. Contact the University Archives if you are interested in further exploring IU’s history through the Union Board records!

Furthermore: Are you a student or faculty sponsor involved with a registered student organization here at Indiana University? Do you want your own organization’s work and influence on campus, however great or small, to play a role in documenting the history of student life at Indiana University? Do you have an abundance of files left over from past officers that you’re not sure what to do with? If you answered “Yes!” or even “hmm… maybe…” to any of these questions, contact the University Archives to learn more about the possibility of depositing your records!

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