Capturing Campus Life During a Pandemic

By Bethany Anderson and Jessica Ballard

Image courtesy of University Housing, which created and gave us permission to use this flyer.

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.

An example of a submission: Professor Larry DeBrock, Dean Emeritus and Professor of Finance and Professor of Economics, during a webinar on the economic impact of the coronavirus. This photo was taken in his home studio with ad-hoc sound-proofing.

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.

The Four Color Theorem Project

 

Students work on arranging and describing Kenneth Appel’s Papers.

From October to November 2017, the Illinois Geometry Lab’s program devoted to showcasing undergraduate Mathematics students’ research worked with the University Archives to arrange and describe Kenneth Appel’s personal papers. In 1976, Kenneth Appel and his colleague Wolfgang Haken (both Mathematics faculty members at the University of Illinois), succeeded in proving the “Four Color Theorem.” This theorem argues that every map in a plane or a sphere can be colored with only four colors in such a way that no two countries of the same color are touching. By that time, mathematicians had been working to prove this theory for over one hundred years. In fact, it took hundreds of hours of computing work for Appel and Haken to prove it. The announcement that the theory had been proven was met with a flood of people writing to them. Some were writing to congratulate the team and others to prove the team wrong.

The students worked alongside the archives staff to learn more about the archival process by appraising the material, arranging and describing it, and rehousing the materials in archival boxes, all while taking an historical approach to mathematics, using primary sources to learn more about Appel, his research, and the ways in which the mathematics community reacted to what was then a controversial finding. Kenneth Appel’s Papers include correspondence relating to the Four Color Theorem that illustrates both in number and in tone, the storm of letters that Appel and Haken were bombarded with at the time. Some notable letters include a teacher that says his eighth graders were able to prove the theory wrong and an account of a $100 bet that was made that the theory could not be solved by July 1976, including a photocopy of the $104 dollar check (the four dollars being paid for “interest”). The record series also includes publicity materials, drafts of papers, and data printouts and computer punch cards, much of which relates to the Four Color Theorem.

On Saturday, November 4, 2017, the students will host an exhibit featuring materials from the collection. The exhibit will be a part of the Illinois Geometry Lab Open House which is being held in conjunction with the Department of Mathematics’ Four Color Fest, an event being held to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the proof. You can also see the exhibit in room 146, University Archives, December 8, 2017-January 31, 2018!

Illini Union

The Student Life & Culture Archives was recently asked to create a small exhibit on the history of the Illini Union for the celebration of Founder’s Day on Wednesday, March 13th.

Dedication of the original building in 1941 completed a long planning process started early in the Twentieth Century.  Interest in a specially built Union building began with the inauguration of President Arthur C. Willard, who appointed a committee to investigate building plans and construction.  The decision to raze University Hall, built in 1871, to make room for the new building was unanimous. Continue reading “Illini Union”

Working for the University Archives

Hello, my name is Zaynaib Giwa but everyone calls me Ola for short. I just started my stint at the University Archives during the beginning of this fall semester. I was entrusted with the task of organizing and converting the University Board of Trustees (BOT) meetings into PDF/A documents.

Who are BOT? Continue reading “Working for the University Archives”

Halloween Post: Hugh Atkinson

Don’t ever try telling me that archivists don’t know how to have fun! Case in point: Our intrepid assistant and blogger Rory Grennan is paying homage to former University Librarian Hugh Atkinson today, with a bit of a nod to the fact that many archivists (and librarians) at Illinois now bike to work.  Do you see the resemblance??? Continue reading “Halloween Post: Hugh Atkinson”

University Archives Acquires Hal Bruno Jr. Papers

In September of 2012, the University of Illinois Archives officially acquired the personal papers of Harold (Hal) Robinson Bruno, Jr. (1928-2011), University alumnus (’50), former political editor of Newsweek (1960-1978), and former political director of ABC News from 1978 to 1997. Bruno also took a turn in front of the camera when he served as the moderator of the boisterous 1992 vice presidential debate between Dan Quayle, Al Gore, and James Stockdale. He also hosted the weekly radio program Hal Bruno’s Washington on ABC Radio from 1981-1999. Continue reading “University Archives Acquires Hal Bruno Jr. Papers”