A photo of a desolate street. A video journal entry. A student’s hip hop performance. A screenshot of a Zoom meeting. These are but a few examples of submissions that the University of Illinois Archives has received as part of a call to the campus community to share their experiences during the COVID-19 crisis.
Over the last few weeks, life at the University of Illinois has drastically changed in response to Governor Pritzker’s “stay-at-home” order: students and faculty have shifted in-person courses to remote instruction; most staff are working remotely in their homes; and meetings that were once in-person are now conducted primarily by video conference. The impact of these changes to daily life has been profound and disruptive. What’s become clear is that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every part of the University of Illinois community–from building workers to students, faculty, staff, and alumni–and it is affecting everyone in different ways.
We are living in an unprecedented time, one which future researchers will want to study in order to understand what it was like to live through this pandemic. The Archives wants to ensure that these experiences are captured and preserved for future generations, whether they are in the form of artwork, an email to a colleague, a photo of one’s remote workspace, or a written or recorded snapshot of one’s experience at a specific moment in time.
Consider sharing your story with the Archives. Submissions may be made through this form: https://go.library.illinois.edu/COVID-19Archives. The form will remain open through December 31, 2020, but the deadline may be extended if needed. Submissions may also be anonymous. Your submission does not necessarily need to be a digital item–the Archives is also accepting physical items for donation once we resume onsite operations.
Please contact Bethany Anderson (Natural and Applied Sciences Archivist) and Jessica Ballard (Archivist for Multicultural Collections and Services) with questions about this initiative.
In January 2016, James Whitacre (GIS Specialist), Marci Uihlein (Professor/Architecture), and Ellen Swain (Student Life and Culture Archivist) received Library Innovation Funds to develop a project entitled Mapping History at the University of Illinois—a “bringing together” of GIS, architecture and archives to tell the University’s story in time for the Sesquicentennial year.
The three project components include:
Campus History: Brief narratives (written by project historian John Franch) and covering themes across seven historic eras, integrating GIS story maps and architectural modeling, and archival holdings
Interactive Campus Maps:GIS time-enabled map; 3-D modeling, and story maps produced (with James Whitacre’s assistance) by Joe Porto, Scholarly Commons graduate assistant, undergraduate student assistants and interns. Jessica Ballard, Archives Faculty Resident, created the African American Housing history map.
Digital Map Archives: 525 campus, community and county maps from University Archives, Map Library and Champaign County Historical Archives holdings, conserved by Conservation and digitized by Digital Services.
Since its establishment in 1963, the University of Illinois Archives has served as the steward of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s institutional memory. Through the preservation of the administrative records that document the development of the University’s colleges, departments, and programs; of faculty papers that shed light on the fascinating twists and turns of research and the light-bulb moments in which ideas emerge; and of the papers of alumni and student groups that allow us to understand the legacy of the University and student life, the materials in the University Archives’ holdings chronicle the achievements, activities, and impact of the University of Illinois’ administrators, faculty, and students over the past 150 years. Continue reading “University of Illinois Archives Celebrates Sesquicentennial”→
Since December 2012, the University Archives has acquired over 50 new accessions of materials which have augmented the Archives’ holdings that document the College of Engineering’s rich institutional memory. These acquisitions have revealed new sources and insights into the establishment and development of Engineering’s curriculum from the University’s founding in 1867, as well as faculty research and the creation of new research programs and laboratories and their affect on scientific and technological innovations. In addition to being arranged and described, Engineering administrative records and faculty papers have received advanced conservation and preservation treatment, and many records series have been digitized by the Library’s Digital Content Creation Unit. These newly-digitized materials facilitate greater access to the history of science and technology at the University of Illinois. Recently digitized administrative materials include Faculty Minutes, 1897-1902, 1918-2008 and Annual Reports, 1903-1959, 1970-1971, 1987-1988 .These records capture the work of committees, administrators, departments, and laboratories, including Engineering’s unique documentation of its own history through its Historical File, 1908-1996.
In 1907, students from the Department of Electrical Engineering participated in a campaign to raise funds to build a memorial to Robert Fulton in New York City. In order to contribute to this effort, Electrical Engineering students organized exhibition that displayed their work. Attracting 1,600 visitors and raising $250 to contribute to the Fulton memorial, the event would serve as the first Electrical Show.  As it expanded each year, the show was soon considered the “acme of development in electrical apparatus and experiments,” with its exhibits ranging from displays of practical items to spectacular and literally shocking devices. While some of the exhibits illustrated futuristic items that could one day transform daily life, others sought to simply demonstrate how such inventions as the telegraph worked or to display new and improved household items. Programs from the 1910 and 1915 Electrical Shows mention exhibits on wireless telegraphy, vacuum cleaners, electric pianos, an “Electric Cafe,” and “the Wonder Tube”–the longest light on the university’s campus. A promotional video for the 1938 Electrical Show also promised to feature “man-made lightning,” “electrons at work” and a “kiss-o-meter”:
Just north of Engineering Hall is a 3.9 mile-long creek which has, for better or worse, figured in the lives of students, faculty, and staff at the University of Illinois. Though a familiar site on the Engineering campus, current students may pass by Boneyard Creek giving it little thought. Around the turn of the 20th century, however, freshmen may have looked upon this small tributary of the Salt Fork Vermilion River with a degree of trepidation. A 1905 song parodies some of the anxieties the creek affected on new students at the university:
Few innovations have captured the imagination as much as the computer, and even fewer academic archives have had the opportunity to preserve its history. The University Archives houses records that chronicle not only the history of computing at the University of Illinois, but also the “campus’ past, present, and future romance with it.” Indeed, the University Archives contains records documenting Cyberfest ’97, a series of events held March 10-14, 1997, which celebrated the birth of HAL 9000 – the deceptive, clever, and sinister computer in Arthur C. Clarke’s and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, who “became operational at the HAL Plant in Urbana, Illinois” – as well as the plethora of technologies wrought by the computer.
On July 17, 1940, F. Wheeler Loomis, Head of the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois, received a letter from Donald W. Kerst. The latter, a young physicist who had only begun working at the University of Illinois the prior year, penned to Loomis:
Monday afternoon the electron accelerator started to work. It was its first trial with the new glass doughnut and the new pole pieces. By evening the intensity of the X-rays produced when the electrons strike the target was up to about the effect of 10 millicuries of radium gamma rays (radium at target distance) according to the callibration on the electron-scope.
Soon to be known as the “betatron,” Kerst’s induction electron accelerator was an innovation on which his colleagues had cast a shadow of doubt. Loomis, who was on leave from the university during World War II for government-related work in the Radiations Laboratory at MIT, later admitted to Dean Melvin L. Enger, “This changes his project from an off-chance one to the most promising and original ones that has ever occurred in the department…it is capable of bringing as much renown to our department as the cyclotron did to Berkeley.” A few years later, the betatron would be hailed as “the most important development of a decade.” Indeed, the impact of this “atom smasher” would prove to be far-reaching, holding the attention of the world as it made its appearance on the horizons of medical science and atomic research. Continue reading ““A Very Bold and Original Device”: Donald Kerst and the Betatron”→