Research Topics at the University of Illinois Archives:

1) Chief Illiniwek–How has “the Chief’s” image changed over the years? How have people’s perceptions of “the Chief” changed? Why?

Sources: Reference Files; Chief Illiniwek Clippings Files (26/4/6); Rosemarie N. Stremlau Papers (41/30/124), Homecoming Badges, 1910-present (41/6/810).

2) Women’s Experience–What was it like to be a women student in the early years of the University? How has the experience changed over the years? Why?

Sources: Illio (41/8/805); Daily Illini; Dean of Women Subject File (41/3/1); various student scrapbooks.

3) African-American Experience–William Walter Smith was the first African-American to receive a degree from the University, in 1900.  What was it like to be an African-American student in the early part of the 20th century?  How has this experience changed over the years?  Why?

Sources: Illio; Daily Illini; Reference Files; Albert Lee Papers (2/6/21); President Arthur Willard General Correspondence (2/9/1); Negro Matriculants List (2/9/16); President George Stoddard General Correspondence (2/10/1).

4) Vietnam War Protests–In the late 1960s and early 1970s, thousands of students on this and other campuses protested the Vietnam War.  What were the arguments pro and con regarding the war?  What tactics did students use?  What was the response of the University administration?

Sources: Daily Illini; Illio; Student Protests Subject File (41/2/54); Chronology of Campus Protests (41/66/700); David Eisenman Papers (41/2/25); President David Henry General Correspondence (2/12/1).

5) From the 1890s until 1932, the Council of Administration ruled over the student body with great firmness.  In 1931, University President Chase called the Council “the most autocratic body” in U.S. higher education and wanted it abolished.  Outline the development and functions of the Council of Administration.  What were President Chase’s objections to the Council?  Do you think he was right?

Sources: Council of Administration Minutes (3/1/1); Council of Administration Correspondence (3/1/2); Council of Administration Letterbooks (3/1/3); Thomas Arkle Clark Papers (41/2/20); President Harry W. Chase General Correspondence (2/7/1); Carl Stephens Manuscript History (26/1/21).


6) In 1953, University President George Stoddard was forced out by the Board of Trustees.  What were the circumstances surrounding Stoddard’s ouster?  Why did the Board force his ouster?

Sources: President George Stoddard General Correspondence (2/10/1); George Stoddard Papers (2/10/20); Coleman R. Griffith Papers (5/1/21); Board of Trustees Minutes; Newspapers.

7) In the early part of the 20th century, Dean of Students Thomas Arkle Clark waged a long campaign to abolish a secret fraternity known as Theta Nu Epsilon (TNE).  What can you find out about TNE?  What were Clark’s objections to TNE? Give a brief history of Clark’s fight against TNE.  How would you characterize Clark?

Sources: Thomas Arkle Clark Papers (41/2/20); Theta Nu Epsilon Records (41/71/589); University Council Correspondence (3/1/2); Dean of Men General Correspondence (41/2/1).

8) In 1914, University Professor of French Jean Baptiste Beck was forced out of the University.  What were the circumstances surrounding Beck’s firing?  What do you think was the real reason for his ouster?  Defend your answer.

Sources: President Edmund James Faculty Correspondence (2/5/6); James Diaries (2/5/7); Board of Trustees Minutes; Board of Trustees Secretary’s File (1/1/6); Administrative and Personnel Actions File (2/15/10).

9) The University of Illinois Observatory was declared national landmark in 1989.  Why? Give a brief history of the scientific breakthrough accomplished at the Observatory.  Who were the people involved?

Sources: President Edmund James Faculty Correspondence (2/5/6); Joel Stebbins Papers (15/3/21); Observatory History (15/3/12); Jakob Kunz papers (11/10/26).

10) In 1968, the University created the Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) to help minority students.  Provide a history of the program until 1980.  Would you judge the program a success in this period?

Sources: Educational Opportunities Program File (41/2/14); David Eisenman Papers (41/2/25); Special Educational Opportunities File (25/2/17); Educational Opportunities Program Publications (41/2/804); Reference Files.

11) In the 1920s, the trip between Chicago and Champaign could be quite adventurous.  What was it like for a student making that trip in the 1920s or earlier?  How did students travel in those days?

Sources: Nina Ruth Harding Papers (41/20/155); Jacob Goldstein Papers (41/20/165).


12) In the early 1960s, Assistant Professor of Biology Leo Koch was forced out of the University.  What were the circumstances surrounding his firing?  How did Koch respond?  What happened to Koch? 

Sources: Administrative and Personnel Actions File (2/15/10); Coleman R. Griffith Papers (5/1/21); American Association of University Professors Correspondence (48/1/5); Reference File; Daily Illini.

13) During World War I, many University students volunteered to serve overseas.  Select one or two students.  How did they describe their wartime experiences?  What happened to them after the war?

Sources: Kendric Charles Babcock Papers (15/1/24); Committee on the History and Participation of the University in World War I (4/5/50); Dean of Students General Correspondence (41/2/1); Morgue Files (26/4/1); War Service Records (41/2/17).

14) University students used to celebrate Halloween in a big way.  Give a brief history of the celebration on campus.  Why did the University administration eventually put an end to the celebration?

Sources: Dean of Students Subject File (41/1/6); Michael Ginsburg Papers (41/20/163); Daily Illini.

15) Shortly after World War I, University History Professor Albert Lybyer traveled to the Mideast as part of a peace commission.  Describe Lybyer’s experiences in the Mideast.  How did he view the region?  What do you think of his viewpoint?

Sources: Albert Lybyer Papers (15/13/22).

16) How have perceptions and use of the Quad as a public space changed over the history of the University?

Sources: Alumni Oral Histories; Student Rules and Regulations; I- books; Illios; Student Organization Records; and Publications

17) In 1929, the University dedicated the Alma Mater statue behind Foellinger Auditorium (and facing the Agricultural Quad.)  In the 1960s, Alma Mater was moved to its present location. What is the significance of this move, and what does this move say about the University's identity and values?

Sources: Ready reference files, President Henry's Papers.


18) In 1913, the University of Illinois cosponsored a voyage of discovery to the Arctic known as the Crocker Land Expedition.  What were the goals of this expedition?  What happened in the course of this expedition?  Would you judge it to be a success?

Sources: President James General Correspondence (2/5/3); President James General Scrapbook (2/5/10); Graduate College Administrative Correspondence (7/1/2); Faculty Publication Lists (15/1/812); William S. Bayley Papers (15/11/21).

19) Illinois governors have affected the University of Illinois in different ways.  Choose two governors.  Compare and contrast their attitudes and policies regarding the University.  Which governor’s policies do you favor?  Why?

Sources: Any President’s Papers; Carl Stephens Manuscript History (26/1/21); Legislative History, 1851-1936 (2/9/10).

20) Women’s intercollegiate basketball began at the University in 1896, almost a decade before the start of men’s basketball.  What can you find out about the origin of women’s basketball at the University?  What happened to the women’s program?  When did it end?  (Following its early demise, the women’s basketball program was resurrected in 1970.)

Sources: Illini; Illios; Newspapers; John M. Gregory Scrapbooks (2/1/2); Council of Administration Minutes (3/1/1).

21) Foster North was a student expelled from the University just weeks before he would have graduated with the class of 1885.  Why was he expelled?  Who do you think was right?  What happened to North after he left the University?

Sources: Alumni Morgue File (26/4/1); University of Illinois Material (0/1/801); President’s Papers.

22) In the 1890s, the University of Illinois, under President Andrew Draper, became one of the founding members of the Big Ten.  Why was the Big Ten formed?  What were Draper’s views on the subject?  Provide an early history of the Big Ten.

Sources: Intercollegiate Conference Publications (28/1/805); Andrew Draper General Correspondence (2/4/1); Andrew Draper General Scrapbooks (2/4/10).

23) A member of the class of 1884, Carlos Montezuma was the first Native American to graduate from the University.  What were his experiences like as an undergraduate?  What happened to him after he left the University?  What were his views on Native American issues?

Sources: Alumni Morgue File (26/4/1); Charles A. Kiler Papers (26/20/14); Illini; The Sophograph (41/8/806).

24) In the 1860s, Champaign was one of many Illinois cities vying to be the home of the Illinois Industrial University.  How and why did Champaign win out over the other cities?  Sketch a brief history of the site selection battle.

Sources: Burt Powell’s Semi-Centennial History Transcripts and Source Material (39/1/20); University of Illinois Early History Collection (35/3/125).

25) In the early part of the 20th century, a mysterious group known as the Ku Klux Klan existed on the University campus.  What can you find out about this group?  Was it affiliated in any way with the notorious national group having the same name?  What happened to it?

Sources: Ready Reference Files; Illio; Daily Illini.

                                                                                                Compiled February 2005