Martin Luther King, Jr. at IWU

Students today may not know that their predecessors were responsible for bringing the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to campus twice in the 1960s. The first time was in 1961 for an event sponsored by the Religious Activities Commission. Articles in The Argus and Wesleyana offer details.

Religious Emphasis Banquet program

program for the event Dr. King spoke at in 1961

The University Archives received a special copy of the program for this event just a few years ago. The story of how this artifact came to the archives is told below the pdf version of the program.

Religious Emphasis Banquet program

back of Religious Emphasis Banquet program







Dr. King visited a “Principles of Sociology” class during this visit and is shown below talking with Sociology professors James K. Phillips and Emily Dunn-Dale.

Dr. King and IWU faculty

Dr. King with IWU faculty during his 1961 visit.

Dr. King speaking during his 1966 visit to IWU

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is shown here with Coretta Scott King and Elizabeth Lindblom on the speakers’ platform.

In 1966 Dr. King returned at the request of the Student Senate’s Convocation Commission. This event took place after Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and was held at the Fred Young Fieldhouse to accommodate the crowd. IWU student Elizabeth Lindblom was Chair of the Commission and provided an introduction to the event.

Other photos from the 1961 and 1966 visits are also available. Alumni shared their reflections on these visits during a panel on the topic at Homecoming 2016.

University Communications maintains a series of web pages with a transcript of the 1966 event and a link to a recording of a broadcast from local radio station WJBC. The University Archives holds an audio cassette tape of that broadcast, photographs and the other records of Dr. King’s two visits to IWU.

Photo project complete!

In 2011 the archives acquired a group of photographic material from the Office of Communications. Since then a succession* of diligent archives student assistants have worked steadily to place the contact sheets and negatives together in high quality sleeves, transfer information from the old filing sleeves, and then to store them in hanging file drawers for ease of access. Actually, many people** at IWU deserve the thanks of all future IWU photo seekers.

Below are a few then-and-now pictures to give a sense of this effort. The years spanned in these image files are 1966-2002, though the bulk of the negatives are from 1970s-1990s. A rough estimate of the total comes to about 40,000 images. Some information is searchable in a database (available in the archives) created by a couple of generations of photographers, but most images are at least in chronological order and correspond with activities that occur regularly each academic year. This order itself, even without complete descriptions, is significant for the work of the archives in satisfying the many research inquiries we receive each year.

* Students (now alumni!) assisting in this project were Kaylee, Kenny, Kirsten, Melissa, Rachel, Shirley, and Tia.

**Special thanks to the photographers who took the images and saved their log books, Physical Plant for moving everything so carefully, and University Librarian Karen Schmidt for making it possible to purchase the supplies that will help keep our history safe and in order for future use! Karen also alerted me to the policies of State Farm that allow non-profits to acquire used furniture from their surplus warehouse. We wouldn’t have all the vertical file cabinets without them!



Photographic material acquired

Summer 2011 brought our biggest accession of the year and fulfills a need that was identified before my arrival on campus. Nearly all photographic negatives, contact sheets and slides dating from the 1960s to 1990s that were formerly stored in the basement of Holmes Hall have been transferred for processing to the archives. Once processing is complete, we estimate the collection will occupy 130 linear feet.

This collection was inadequately protected both because of the physical environment of the basement and at the item level: negatives were in legal-sized envelopes and contact sheets were in shoe boxes. We are spreading the costs over a couple of budget cycles but our goal is to re-house the entire collection and make the index publicly available.

Also included in this photo transfer were some of the newer slides stored within the campus photographer’s office in good-quality sleeves, so material from the mid-1990s only needed a stable physical space.

It should be noted that other photographic material remains in various places in Holmes Hall, but this large transfer is a great start to ensuring that the collection is protected for the future. Additionally, research requests can be handled by archives staff, instead of taking up our photographer’s already well-used time!

More historical photos

If it’s been awhile since you looked through the online photo collection, check it out. One of our outstanding archives student assistants worked away at our backlog of photos that have been digitized for one reason or another in the past few years and there are over 1,100 uploaded now.

There are quite a few that we know little or nothing about. Click on the “Help ID Photos!” tab at the top of this page to search solely for those images. If you have information to share, let me know!

We recently acquired the IWU Tree Map files for the current and previous interactive websites created by Art Killian. We can’t make the map interactive in our photo collection, but I know we can at least save the map pages for each tree and include an image of each tree so that changes to our arboretum can be noted well into the future. Stay tuned!