Writings Depict Illinois Student Experience


Instructor Mary Hays Rhetoric 105 Portfolios, 2000-2014


The Green Caldron, January 1935

As finals wind down and students leave campus for a much needed winter break, the SLC Archives thanks all students who visited the Archives this semester for class introduction sessions and tours or to conduct research for essays and final papers!

Classes from the Undergraduate Rhetoric Program are frequent users of SLC materials and English students investigate a wide range of University history topics including student protest and civil rights movements, women’s experience, campus sustainability projects, and building and department histories.


W.A. Brubaker Essay

The SLC Archives collects student writings, published or unpublished, many of which comment on day to day life on campus.

W.A. Brubaker studied Engineering at the University from 1893 until his early death in 1896.[1]  His papers include themes written for English 8 during his sophomore year. On September 21, 1894, Brubaker described the bustling activities outside his rooming house window.

The Green Caldron, produced by the English Department from 1931-1970, captured the “best of” first year rhetoric essays. Two examples that describe student life include “The Campus Week” (January 1935), an outline of a typical week on campus, and “Hogwash for College Students,” an account of and commentary on Vice President Richard Nixon’s visit to UI (April 1955):


Hogwash for College Students, April 1955


The Campus Week, January 1935



In my more recent years, SLC has partnered with rhetoric instructor Mary Hays to collect her students’ personal and reflective essays.[2] Hays pushes her students to explore historical student materials as a way to think about their own experience on campus and to identify material objects that best reflect their time at Illinois today.  Students grant permission to include their work in the Archives for future students (and others) to read.  Many of their rhetoric portfolios include a letter to future students.[3]img449

img4511 Brubaker died May 16, 1896, Alumni Directory, 1929, p. 121; His obituary appeared in the Daily Illini, May 22, 1896

2 Rhetoric Essays, 2000-2014, RS 15/7/833

3 In addition to teaching writing at the University, Mary Hays authors the News Gazette column, “Letter from Birdland,” which appears in each Sunday issue.

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