About the Archives

Category: About the Archives

Recent projects

Archives student assistants Colby Lewis ’17 and Emma Lipkin ’19 have been busy over the past several months with some exciting projects. Here are the highlights:

Milk glass vase from the Artifact Collection, circa 1900
  • Emma inventoried and photographed more than 300 artifacts (3-D objects) associated with Lawrence history. These range from t-shirts to trophies to items that are more difficult to classify
  • Colby completed an extensive research project on the history of religious and spiritual life at Lawrence and designed a display to share this history for the dedication of Sabin House. The display is still on view in the group room on the second floor of the house.
  • Emma digitized a number of written transcripts of Commencement addresses, dating from 1926 to 1974.
  • Colby transcribed a series of letters written by Henry Colman (class of 1857) and his brother Elihu Colman (class of 1865) to their parents. These letters provide a unique view into student life during Lawrence’s early years.
One of five posters on the history of religious and spiritual life at Lawrence by Colby Lewis ’17

This is not to mention a bunch of other tasks that are not as exciting to read about but equally important for Archives operations (advanced paperclip removal, data entry, CD processing, and so on.) Thanks to both Emma and Colby for all of their work!

Class of 2016 Archives Project

form_screenshotCalling all seniors: the LU Archives is seeking to expand our documentation of student life at Lawrence, and we need your help! This is an opportunity to reflect on and share with future generations of Lawrentians a bit about what life has been like for you as a student at Lawrence in the 2010s.

If you are interested in sharing reflections, please consider submitting a response to this form. Responses will be added to the Class of 2016 collection in the LU Archives and made accessible to all users who adhere to policies and procedures of the Seeley G. Mudd Library and LU Archives. For this project, anonymous responses will be accepted.

If you have questions about this initiative or are interested in donating other types of materials that document your time at Lawrence, please feel free to email archives@lawrence.edu or stop by the Archives in the library (level B).

Founders Day, 2016

birthday_LUThis Friday, January 15th, 2016, is Founders Day at Lawrence. It marks the 169th anniversary of the granting of Lawrence’s charter by the Wisconsin Territorial legislature. In honor of this occasion, we’re hosting an Archives Open House!

Stop by the Archives (Level B in the library) anytime 1-5pm on Friday to:

  • learn about Lawrence’s founding and early years
  • view a manuscript copy of the charter, early photographs, and other archival materials
  • chat with the archivist about LU history
  • scope out the Archives and what it’s all about
  • maybe pick up a treat (that can be enjoyed outside of the Archives!)

Very important update: If you are unable to join us in person for Founders Day but would still like to celebrate, perhaps you would be interested in our Founders Day Coloring Book, featuring images from the Archives.

Archives Month, 2015

American Archives MonthOctober is American Archives Month, and as usual, we have some fun things planned! Mark your calendars for:

Thursday, October 1st, all day: We’ll be participating in #AskAnArchivist Day. Tweet us questions at @archives_lu (our brand new Twitter account!) using #AskAnArchivist. Archivists all around the country will be monitoring this hashtag, so if you’ve got questions about archives and archivists, this is your chance to get some answers. (And if you’re not on Twitter, never fear – keep your eyes peeled for old-school opportunities to ask questions in the library.)

Thursday, October 22nd, 8pm: Back by popular demand, the Haunted Lawrence tour. Join archivist Erin Dix and Scott Breyer from Facility Services as we explore the history of buildings on campus and stories of reported hauntings. Registration will be limited to 20 attendees. To register, please complete this brief form.


It’s Archives Month!

Screenshot from This is Lawrence, 1972
Screenshot from This is Lawrence, 1972

Once again, it’s October, and that means it’s American Archives Month! We have some exciting things going on to celebrate:

All month, through October 31st: A Stone of Hope: Black Experiences in the Fox Cities – This traveling exhibit from The History Museum will be on display on the 2nd floor of the library this month. It explores local African-American history from the 1700s through the present and includes a number of images and stories from the LU Archives. Read more about the exhibit here.

Wednesday, October 8th: Ask the Archivist day – We’ll be answering any and all questions about Lawrence history (to the best of our ability) virtually on Facebook and in person in the library.

Tuesday, October 21st: Archives Film Festival – Join us in the Warch Campus Center Cinema from 7 to 9pm for a showing of recently digitized films from the Archives! The films date from 1929 to 1972 and include amateur film footage as well as professionally produced films about Lawrence. These are fantastic and we’re so excited to share them. Feel free to pop in for any amount of time or stay for the whole show!


Archives Month!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – that’s right, October is American Archives Month! This year, the LU Archives will celebrate by showcasing our wonderful photographic collections in some new and exciting ways. First up, we’ll have a photo caption contest. If you have a caption in mind for this photo, submit your entry at the display on the first floor of the library anytime October 7th through 11th. Library staff will judge the entries, and the contest winner will receive a gift card for Harmony Cafe.

The Memorial Chapel, circa 1970 and 2013.
The Memorial Chapel, circa 1970 and 2013.

All month, we will also be exploring the intersection of the past and present at Lawrence with rephotography – recreating historical images and comparing “then and now.” We’ll post some examples of modern and historical images juxtaposed or overlaid on our Facebook page. We hope you will consider creating some of your own! You can browse and search our digitized photograph collections for inspiration in our collections database. If you create your own rephotograph, please share it with us on Facebook or email it to us at archives@lawrence.edu!

Lastly (but unrelated to photography), we will again offer the Haunted Lawrence tour. Further details will be forthcoming, but mark your calendars for Monday, October 28th at 8pm!

Contest winners

Emeline Crooker, 1849

A total of 19 captions were submitted last week for our “Men with arms outstretched” photo, all of which were deemed to be “excellent” by our panel of judges. In first place was the ever-witty Antoinette Powell, with her caption: “Having mastered ‘T,’ the Men’s Athletic Alphabetic team prepares to attempt ‘U.'” Holly Tuyls ran a very close second with her caption: “In a gym full of T’s, Herman was proud to be an I.” Here are several other honorable mentions:

– Gretchen Revie: “Ready men! Now flap! Flap! Flap as hard as you can!”

– Jack Canfield: “It’s fun to stay at the YMCA, you can hang out with all the boys…”

– Kevin Specht: “Back before Lawrence boasted about small class sizes, they boasted that at least everyone has enough space for even the stretchiest of stretches.”

– Ben Willard: “Lawrence University’s third and last Mock Aeroplane Club had just been cleared for takeoff when it was discovered that mock aeroplane clubs were no longer considered cool. It was truly the end of an era.”

– Cindy Patterson: “Synchronized standing.”

In other news, our “Fashion in the Archives” Facebook contest has yielded a clear winner: voters judged Emeline Crooker, preceptress and instructor of music, drawing, and painting at Lawrence from 1849 to 1851, to be “most fashionable” of our contenders.

Thanks for your participation in our Archives Month shenanigans, parts I and II! Next week, we’ll be at the Campus Center with some materials from the Archives on Wednesday from 11 to 1. And on Thursday, October 25th, all are welcome to attend a presentation on “Haunted Lawrence” at Things Worth Knowing in the library, 4:30 to 5pm.

Archives month!


It’s that time of year again – October is American Archives Month! We have activities lined up for each week of this month to celebrate the occasion:

October 1st-7th: Photo caption contest! If you have a caption in mind for the photo at left, submit your entry at the display on the first floor of the library anytime this week. Library staff will judge the entries, and the contest winner will receive a gift card for Harmony Cafe.

October 8th-12th: A Facebook fashion contest: from a selection of Archives images depicting Lawrence students, faculty, and staff through the years, who has the best sense of style?

Wednesday, October 17th, 11am-1pm: Archives on the road: visit our table on the 2nd floor of the Campus Center to view some historic materials or ask a question about LU or Milwaukee-Downer history.

Thursday, October 25th, 4:30-5pm: “Haunted Lawrence” at Things Worth Knowing in the library. Based on our “Haunted Lawrence” tour, with information, stories, and images from the Archives.

Announcing a new collections search tool!

After several months of planning and data entry, we have officially launched a very exciting new tool for searching Archives’ holdings! The open-source software, called Archon, was created by archivists and developers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign several years ago and has been implemented in a wide range of archival repositories since. It creates a browse-able and search-able database of all of our collection guides (or “finding aids”). Users (both on and off campus) can browse holdings by collection title, creator, subject, or classification, or keyword search across all collection records.

Collection descriptions in Archon at this point still represent a fairly small percentage of all of the materials housed in the Archives, but the capabilities of the database should allow us to accelerate our rate for processing collections going forward. This means that the database will be continually updated with new records. Among many other things, Archon allows us to enter records for collections that are accessible but not yet fully organized and described. So an Archon search may show you descriptions of many more collections than those which were reflected on our old finding aids page. You still need to visit the Archives to see the actual stuff, but Archon allows you to get a good sense of what is on our shelves and ready for research use in advance.

A big, big thanks to folks in Technology Services, the library staff, and the Archives student assistants for all of their help with this effort! If you have any questions or any feedback related to Archon or the Archives’ collections, please contact us at archives@lawrence.edu or (920) 832-6753.

LU Archives FAQs

In our continuing recognition of American Archives Month, this week we’re talking about the kinds of questions that resources in the LU Archives are used to answer. We receive about 30 to 40 reference requests each month – through phone, email, and in-person visits from faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the general public. There are certain questions that come up pretty often:

1. What can you tell me about my family member/ancestor who went to Lawrence?

This is the most frequently asked question around here. Family history researchers often contact the Archives looking for years of attendance, photos, and other biographical information pertaining to their ancestors. If the person in question attended in the 1800s, usually our only source of information is the course catalog, which listed all students in attendance annually from the first year of classes in 1849 through 1964. After the turn of the century, we can use yearbooks to find photographs and sometimes information about a student’s studies and extracurricular activities. We have similar resources for Milwaukee-Downer.

2. What can you tell me about this other Lawrence-or-Milwaukee-Downer-related person?

For faculty or staff members (and some alumni) at Lawrence, our first place to look for information is our vertical file. This file has folders containing biographical information, newspaper clippings, and photographs for over 3,400 individuals! You can view and search this very long list here. The Milwaukee-Downer vertical people file is available here.

3. Where is The Rock?

For those of you unfamiliar with this bit of Lawrence history, there is more information here and here. Alas, the current whereabouts of the Rock are unknown. Since it has been buried and unearthed years later once before, it’s possible that another class has undertaken this stunt.

4. Was Main Hall a stop on the Underground Railroad?

Unfortunately, we have no documentary evidence suggesting that Main Hall was ever part of the Underground Railroad, and there have been too many renovations for physical evidence to remain. Abolitionist sentiment was pervasive on campus, due in part to the college’s Methodist affiliation and the political leanings of its founders. Amos Lawrence was strongly in favor of abolition and was close friends with John Brown. He sent supplies and weapons  by boat through Appleton to Lawrence, Kansas. During the war, Main Hall served as an important meeting place for rallies and aid coordination for families of soldiers. But as for the Underground Railroad, we’ll have to label this a myth.

5. Anything and everything trivia-related, come January.

We have an ever-growing collection of materials related to the Annual Great Midwest Trivia Contest, dating back to its start in 1966. This includes the original, scribbled and scrawled copies of every single question compiled going back to the mid-1990s.

Are there other things related to Lawrence or Milwaukee-Downer history that you’re wondering about? You can visit the Archives in person any weekday afternoon, 1-5pm, or call or email anytime!