How to Develop a Departmental, Organizational, or Alumni History

Part of the mission of the BGSU University Archives is to collect the historically significant records of university departments and student organizations.  But what kinds of information make for good history from these groups? Where can you find the information? We offer some suggestions below about the types of information to be collected and offered to the University Archives, but not all the suggestions are necessary for each department or organization.  For help with any questions about what types of records may or may not be of interest to the University Archives, contact the University Archivist at

Department or Organization History

The following lists are always useful, and information about individuals can be added as discovered. Include dates of service if located.

  • Department Chairs
  • Faculty and Distinguished Faculty Members
  • Secretaries and Clerical Staff
  • Outstanding Alumni
  • Officers
  • Outstanding class members
  • Class officers
  • Student Government officers
  • Outstanding athletes and coaches
  • Influential faculty and administrators

In addition to noting the curriculum-related information below, information about the physical plant (what building housed the department offices, etc.), is also useful.

  • Department from which your department developed
  • Departments which developed from yours
  • Development of Graduate Programs
  • Named chairs, lectureships, fellowships
  • Colloquia and Lecture Series
  • Laboratory equipment, special libraries or other resources, especially those affecting coursework or research
  • Related honorary organizations
  • Related national organizations
  • Related student organizations
  • Related academic departments
  • Lists of events sponsored, projects, productions, concerts
  • Watershed events, such as major grants or research which affected the development of the department or group
  • Buildings, offices
  • Outstanding service projects
  • Newsletters
  • Other publications
  • Photographs, including a portrait of each faculty member, formal department group portraits, and informal snapshots of faculty and students
  • Photographs of student leadership, student organization activities, both formal photographs and informal snapshots
        Note regarding photographs - if at all possible, please provide identifying information such as individuals shown, date (at the very least approximate year(s)), and/or occasion)     
  • Residence halls
  • Fraternities and sororities
  • Student Government
  • Black Student Union
  • Latino Student Union
  • Service organizations, fund raisers; other student clubs
  • Performances
    • Musical programs and concerts (students)
    • Theater productions
    • University-sponsored concerts, lectures, film series
  • Intercollegiate athletic teams
    • men’s teams
    • women’s teams
    • coaches
    • win-loss records
    • major tournaments and titles
  • Intramural sports
  • Student discipline rules
  • Falcon’s Nest and Student Union
  • Buildings constructed, remodeled or torn down
  • Outstanding service projects
  • Favorite hang-outs in Bowling Green and elsewhere
    • stores
    • theaters
    • watering holes and restaurants
  • Homecoming, graduation, holidays, dances, dating
  • Miscellaneous and fun information
  • Events off-campus which affected student life
  • Controversies on-campus which affected student life

More information

The sources listed below are available online or at the Center for Archival Collections, 5th Floor, Wm. T. Jerome Library. In addition, classmates, and organization members may have collections of photographs, scrapbooks, and diaries while there may also be additional information to be found in departmental files or in the offices of faculty colleagues.

Overman, James R. History of Bowling Green State University. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Press, 1967.
LD 4191 .O62 O9
Written for the 50th Anniversary, covering the entire university and its administration, with much detail about early faculty, staff, and programs.

Givens, Stuart. The Falcon Soars: Bowling Green State University: The Years of Growing Distinction, 1963-1985. Bowling Green, Ohio: Popular Press, 1986.
LD 4191 .O62 G5
Written for the 75th Anniversary, carries on where the Overman book leaves off, describing political and administrative issues

Weiss, Larry J.  Bowling Green State University: A Historical Photo Album. Fremont, Ohio: Lesher Printers, 1980.
pUA 0113
Written to provide a more pictorial view of the university's history, showing not only faculty, staff, and buildings but also student life and important events.

Annual Catalog. 1914-present. Departmental introductions evolve as the departments grow. Faculty and department officers are often listed, sometimes with their areas of specialization

Board of Trustees Minutes. Available from the earliest years of the university, they cover formal administration of BGSU, founding of departments, establishment of programs, finance, policies, etc. A general card index is available at the CAC.

BG News. Since 1920, the student newspaper has recorded changes in programs, activities of student organizations, carried obituaries of faculty, students, and staff, and reflected the tone of student life. An online index is available for most of the run of the newspaper, and a card index at the CAC supplements it. The online edition of the BG News (since November 2000) is also available and separately searchable. Digitized issues are also available online.

Key Yearbook. Since 1918, the yearbook has carried photographs of faculty, students, buildings, and activities on campus along with a brief synopsis of special events. Digitized issues are available online.

Commencement Programs. 1914-present. Lists all degrees granted to individuals, commencement speakers, etc.

The Monitor. A faculty newsletter published since 1973 and available online since 1997 contains information about faculty, administrative, and classified staff, events, and policies.

Alumni magazines. Published under various titles since 1942, usually includes longer feature articles about departments, faculty, alumni, programs, buildings, etc.

Student Handbooks. Including particular handbooks geared to women students or freshmen, these handbooks discuss campus living, rules, and organizations.

Directories. Telephone directories and other lists of students and faculty.

Manuscript Collections. Letters, journals, scrapbooks, and other material gathered by individual faculty, administrators, and students. A bibliography is available online.

University Archives Photograph Collection. Organized by topic or activity, the collection is especially strong from the 1960s-1970s, but includes many historic photographs of faculty, campus, and student activities.

University Archives. Records of permanent administrative or historical value are maintained here, including information on administrative, business, and academic matters; faculty and student organizations; many university publications. Records of previous anniversary celebrations. Some departmental and organizational records inventories are available on line.

Other university publications. Including alumni and department newsletters, campus maps, dedication programs, official policies, correspondence, and financial records.

Campus Tour.  Available online, documenting every building used by BGSU throughout its history, includes aerial views of the campus by decades.

Good history starts with good records keeping.  And the way business gets done, whether in a department, student organization, or athletic club, is through meetings.  And the best way to keep track of what is done at these meetings is through keeping meeting minutes. These can be formal or informal, elaborate or not, but whatever the style, meeting minutes can be a great historical record of the activities of a organization and those who were involved in it.  Not sure where to begin on how to keep minutes?  There are plenty of online resources, and a few Word templates below to give you a start.

Sample Agenda and Meeting Minutes Word Template

Sample Long Form Meeting Minutes Word Template

Sample Short Form Meeting Minutes Word Template



The University Archives offers a place where your departmental and student organization records will be professionally cared for, stored in boxes especially made to ensure their longevity and protect them against environmental hazards, and arranged and described online to further their availability to others in your organization as well as remote scholars interested in the history of your group.

We specifically look for records in their final form (i.e. the approved minutes, and final reports rather than drafts).  In addition, we wish to only collection records that are inactive -- that is to say, no longer being used for routine business.  Once in the University Archives, departmental and organizational records are here to stay.  Members of your department or organization are free to visit the Center for Archival Collections at any time and use the materials you donated to the University Archives, but you will not be able to remove the materials for any purposes.  In addition, we can provide you with high quality scanned facsimiles of a limited number of items, if necessary.  Finally, we wish to collect two-dimensional items - papers, photographs, brochures, flyers, publications, etc. rather than three-dimensional objects (large framed items, awards, plaques, memorabilia, etc.)