Help wanted

Two archives interns created the framework for an oral history program last summer. We now have a series of sample questions geared towards alumni, staff and faculty that the students arrived at after reading some campus histories. Nell and Robert Eckley were kind enough to be our first interviewees and we’re experimenting with ways to make those interviews available on the web with corresponding photographs and transcripts.

Now we need interviewers! I would like to have current students and alumni involved in conducting these interviews as a way to get them involved in a new tradition and to bring their own perspectives to the table when asking others about their time here.

Our first pool of subjects will be alumni at the 50+ anniversary mark and faculty/staff who have worked at IWU over 40 years. People who reside locally are all we can accommodate right now, but during Homecoming we will  actively invite out-of-town participants. All interviews will be audio-only and participants will be given a chance to review their transcripts before releasing them for future use. Contact me if you are interested in interviewing or being interviewed: mminer{at}iwu.edu

Audio and video recordings

The archives recently had several recordings transferred from media we could not listen to (due to outdated formats or fragile magnetic tape) to digital formats. The content of these recordings is mostly unexplored but includes some film clips of the 1952 incoming class and an undated commencement with nurses in capes. There are also a series of audio recordings, some labelled “Peopletalk,” that have alumni and faculty in the 1970s talking about what IWU means to them.

Some recordings are talks given for specific events like a 1949 dinner on the west coast that featured the then-oldest living alumni: Dr. Sam VanPelt, Class of 1875; or a 1969 recording by Hubert Humphrey during the long-running Steveson Lecture Series; or a 1971 visit by Helen Hayes who is speaking to students in Theatre Arts. An undated recording has Sociology Professor Dr. Emily Dunn Dale responding to commentary by Phyllis Schlafley on the topic of women’s roles in society.

Additionally, current faculty member Dr. Pam Muirhead created a video interview with Dr. Paul Bushnell in 2004 for the McLean County Black History Project. The original video tape had 10 minutes of sound distortion at the beginning, and the archives contracted with a media restoration company that was able to make all but the first two minutes understandable again. The subject of Dr. Bushnell’s interview is his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.

There are other digitized recordings available and many other analog recordings await exploration in the archives, too. Some of these recordings could be added to our online collections, but first they could use a reviewer to determine suitability of content and basic descriptions that will let online researchers know how they are relevant. Some may be suitable for research projects and some may hold interesting insights into IWU’s history. All are here for the asking!