New in the Archives: The Scrapbooks of Miriam Backs

Miriam Backs in 1950

Miriam Backs in 1950

Marissa Krein is a graduate student at the School of Information Science. She is currently completing a practicum at the Student Life and Culture Archives. 

Souvenirs from nights out in Champaign-Urbana

Souvenirs from nights out in Champaign-Urbana

The Student Life and Culture Archives recently received four scrapbooks from the family of Miriam Backs chronicling her years as a student at the University of Illinois.

Miriam Carolyn Backs was born on November 30, 1928, in Nashville, Illinois. Her father, Gus H. Backs, was the owner and manager of Backs Department Store and her mother was a homemaker. Miriam grew up in the small southern Illinois town and graduated from Nashville Community High School in 1946. She chose to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and enrolled in the freshmen class of 1946. Mirroring her family’s business background, she majored in accounting at the College of Commerce and Business Administration (now College of Business). Her scrapbooks chronicle her four years at the university and are full of memorabilia highlighting her involvement on campus and her active social life as well as her various summer vacations through the South and Midwest.

First valentine from "a fellow"

First valentine from “a fellow”

Freshmen Year (1946-1947)

Miriam arrived on campus in September 1946. Living in Evans Hall, she soon engrossed herself in campus activities and a very active social life. Preserved in these scrapbooks are numerous “While You Where Out” slips from her various suitors and a very special Valentine from “a fellow.” Also included are bottle wrappers, cocktail stirrers and sticks, and napkins from her nights out in Urbana-Champaign.

Gamma Delta Regional Conference

Gamma Delta Regional Conference

Sophomore Year (1947-1948)

Upon her return to Illinois in September 1947, Miriam became involved with the Gamma Delta Student Organization. Gamma Delta was the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod student organization (now called Lutheran Student Fellowship). Miriam was elected as the secretary of the Upsilon chapter in January 1948 and attended its regional conference in Charleston, IL that spring. Programs from the convention are included in the Miriam’s scrapbooks.

Junior Year (1948-1949)

Souvenirs Miriam collected from the 1948 International Gamma Delta Conference in Detroit, MI

Souvenirs Miriam collected from the 1948 International Gamma Delta Conference in Detroit, MI

Miriam was elected International Secretary of International Gamma Delta. Her new position in the organization gave her the opportunity to attend the fourteenth annual national convention of Gamma Delta at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan in November 1948. She saved the bill from the hotel stay (a two day stay cost $9.00), train ticket, and a do not disturb sign. Unfortunately, she was forced to resign her position in spring 1949 due to her doctor’s advice.

Memorabilia from Miriam's Illinois graduation in 1950

Memorabilia from Miriam’s Illinois graduation in 1950

Senior Year (1949-1950)

Miriam graduated with her degree in June 1950. She saved everything from this momentous day including her tassel, program, graduate announcement, and cards from all the well-wishers. The end of her college days gave her time to reflect on her years at Illinois. She noted in her scrapbook all the suitors from her four years as a student as well her grades and papers from her last semester.

Miriam's Date List from her four years at the University of Illinois

Miriam’s Date List from her four years at the University of Illinois

After her graduation, Miriam worked in Chicago as a accountant for almost thirty years. In 1978, she transferred to an office in Pinckneyville. She resigned in 1988 and returned to Nashville, IL where she worked part time and was very active in her church and civic activities.





















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