A Guide to the Student Life and Culture Archival Collections

Parents help a student move, circa 1959

College years are often regarded as "golden." Events and scenes are remembered, but experiences tend to merge in the memory as time passes. Anxieties and deprivations give way to loyalty and nostalgia. As the legend on Illinois' Alma Mater statue reads, "To thy happy children of the future, those of the past send greetings." General attitudes tend to obscure the processes of intensive learning and acculturation that take place during the first few years away from home. Social values, cultural concepts, tastes in art and entertainment, morality and personal senses of responsibility for social change are developed in a new and unique environment. The degree and the academic transcript reflect the formal process, but much learning takes place outside the classroom and the laboratory. Personal decisions about employment, food, friendships, housing and reading constitute an important part of a college education.

The study of student life and culture is a concern of university administrators and faculty interested in the content and quality of undergraduate education. The university is a unique institution with a commitment to the improvement of society through teaching, research and public service. Its success in attaining these objectives requires an understanding of student culture, life and interests. Understanding student culture is based on research, or the systematic study of the evidence held in the archives. The archival record is a fundamental source for the study of higher education's accountability for the time and money invested by society.

Stewart S. Howe '28, was an early public user of the University Archives. After graduating from Illinois, he established the Stewart Howe Alumni Service to provide financial and managerial services to fraternities and sororities. Despite the economic depression of the 1930's, he built a national business to serve student organizations and the fund-raising and publicity needs of institutions of higher education. In 1973, the Archives acquired the Stewart Howe Collection which became the basis for the development of student life and culture resources in the University Archives. Howe was an assiduous collector of political and social literature relating to student life, fraternity and sorority activities and history, university fund raising, and political and social trends in the 1963-72 period. The Howe Collection is the largest national archival research collection relating to fraternities and sororities.

With the Howe Collection as the centerpiece, other major collections have been acquired in building a research center for primary source materials. The personal papers of Deans Thomas A. Clark 1890 and Fred H. Turner '22 include thousands of documents on the development of the offices of Dean of Men and Dean of Students and the administration of student affairs between 1900 and 1967. The administration of student services in this period of rapid expansion in higher education is documented in more than 1,000 cubic feet of records from the Office of Chancellor for Student Affairs. The papers of Dean of Women Miriam Shelden, and files on freshmen, foreign students, fraternities, housing, student governance and discipline and student organizations add to the extensive topical coverage in administrative subject files. The national freshman honoraries Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Eta Sigma have placed their archives at Illinois. In 1989, the National Panhellenic Conference added their archival holdings relating to the sorority movement.

In 1989, Carlyle Anderson, President of the Stewart Howe Foundation, made a major commitment by establishing the Stewart Howe Archival Program Endowment to provide for the continued development of archival holdings in the area of student life and culture. Supported by funds from the Howe Endowment, a full-time archivist for student life and culture was hired in 1991. The University of Illinois Archives is committed to acquiring the resources needed for the study and understanding of the total student educational experience in the 20th century and the future. To paraphrase the words on the Alma Mater statue, "To those happy users and archivists of the future, those of the past send greetings." May you enjoy and profit from our archival heritage relating to student life and culture.

Maynard Brichford
University Archivist

John Straw
Student Life and Culture Archivist

15 April 1994

Guide to Student Life and Culture Collections
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Academic Affairs

Housing Groups

Independent Housing Groups


International & Language
Political & Social Action
Professional & Occupational
Public Service


Special Publications
Literary Publications
Campus Humor
Radio Station Publications
Galesburg-Chicago Publications

Personal Papers, Notes, Albums & Scrapbooks

Collection Lists by Class

Administrative Services

Admissions Records
Counseling Placement
Deans' Offices
Deans' Personal Papers
Financial Records
Student Affairs Committee
Research Reports
Financial Aid
Governance & Discipline

Student Services

New Students
Organizations & Activities
International Students
Branch Campuses
African-American Students
Health Services
Illini Union
Intermural Athletics Programs
Intercollegiate Sports

National Archival Collections

Stewart S. Howe Collections
Clyde S. Johnson, Leland F. Leland & Wilson B. Heller
National Panhellenic Conference
Honorary Societies
Professional Associations
National Association of State Universities
Other Organizations