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ShipLibrary Blog

American Archives Month: SU Archives

by Christy Fic on 2020-10-08T09:00:00-04:00 | Comments

After last week's post, you might be wondering....what's in SU Archives, and what can SU Archives do for me?

Shippensburg University Archives & Special Collections is where we keep records and artifacts that document the unique history of Shippensburg University and the institution's relationship with the Cumberland Valley region. We collect, organize, and preserve records documenting the University's origins and development, including the activities and achievements of its offices, faculty, students, and alumni.

The Archives serves as the University's institutional memory. It is not just a room on the upper level of Lehman Library, or unit within the broader university ecosystem; it is a campus and community resource.

  • We promote student success by providing access to unique teaching and learning opportunities.
  • We share Ship's story by answering inquiries from administrators, staff, faculty, students, alumni, community members, and outside researchers.
  • And we build relationships by working with members of the community to preserve our shared heritage.

Want to know how a campus tradition started or when Old Main was last used as a dormitory? Looking for information about a student group or club? Can't remember the name of an old classmate, or when your uncle graduated from Ship? Interested in a copy of a commencement program you lost years ago, or a team photo? Don't know what to do with the records taking up space in your office or on your hard drive? Contact SU Archives! We have yearbooks; course catalogs; records of past presidents; building dedication programs; sports team rosters, programs, and photos; back issues of the SU Magazine and other campus publications; student government minutes; and so much more. Search ArchivesSpace to find institutional records; search the Library Catalog to find special collections and rare books; and search our digital archives to find digital collections.

With that said, what can we do for YOU?


  • We can help you do research for a class project. Past students have investigated race relations on campus, the evolution of dining services, gender inequality, the history of student groups like the marching band or drama club, and the role of local community members in founding the university, just to name a few memorable topics.

Student Researcher

A student conducting research in the Archives, Fall 2020

  • We can host interns and volunteers. The Archives is a laboratory where students can gain hands-on experience conducting research; writing; and learning practical skills related to collections care, exhibit design, and public service. Past interns and volunteers have helped us create inventories that can be used by researchers, digitize materials, organize collections, and prepare exhibits. They have gone on to pursue careers in archives, libraries, museums, event planning, and other fields. Most of our students are history majors, but we are open to all students. 
  • We can help you preserve your student experience or club records so that future students can understand what your time at Shippensburg was like. One of the questions we get asked the most by students is "do you have anything about the [insert your organization here]?" Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. We rely on students to donate things like meeting minutes, photos, bylaws, event documentation, and more so that future students can learn about the organizations that are important to you and them.


  • We can collaborate with you to prepare class workshops and assignments. We have hosted many workshops for History and English classes, but we are glad to support teaching and learning in any department! From single sessions where students learn what an archives is and get the chance to handle primary sources, to more intensive workshop series or semester long research projects, we've done it all. If you are looking for ways to connect your students with campus values and traditions, there's no better place than the Archives. It is amazing to see a student make a new discovery that broadens their worldview. Every time a student uses our collections they come to understand more about Shippensburg, and more about themselves.

Students in Archives Workshop

Dr. Allen Dieterich-Ward's UNIV101 class conducting research during an archives workshop, Fall 2018

  • We can support your research and service work. You might be conducting a research or service project that requires you to learn a bit about local history, or the history of educational practices or higher education administration (particularly at SU). With our institutional holdings, manuscript collections, and rare book collections, we may have something that could help move your project forward. Or maybe you're the Chair of a shared governance committee. Please send us your meeting minutes, or let us know where they live on the S drive so we can download them.
  • We can help you collaborate on a project with other campus offices and groups. We have worked with faculty curating exhibits on campus or in the local community, conducting oral histories with alumni, or planning campus events. We love to hear your innovative ideas, and we love to be busy. Count us in as a partner and a resource!

Staff and Administrators

  • We can help you clear out your physical or digital storage space by transferring records to the Archives. To quote Beauty and the Beast, it's a "tale as old as time"... someone retired and you got their old office. You find that they've left behind filing cabinets, boxes, and flash drives or compact discs containing records that you don't need to use on a regular basis and you don't know what to do with them. Contact the Archives. This is literally our purpose for existing. It's our mission to preserve non-current records of offices and departments. We will accept your old records, save what's valuable, and magically disappear the rest. Please do not throw boxes in dumpsters. Let us do the hard work for you.

Unprocessed Records

Print and digital files from a campus office that need to be added to the collection

  • We can help you figure out past practices on campus or give you basic information about past students or employees. Let us know if you hear from another university that is trying to verify a student transcript. We can check old catalogs to see what courses were offered when. If an alum contacts you wanting to know about an old classmate, send them our way. Does your new boss want to know about a decision someone made in your office 15 years ago? We can check our records to see if we have documentation of that policy or procedure. We've got your back.

Alumni, Community Members, and Outside Researchers

  • We can help you find information on an old classmate, team, or student club. As an alum, you might want to know more about your time at Ship. Ask us! We are glad to have alums visit us in-person, or to scan materials that we can send to you via email or snail mail if you're too far away.

Cumberland 1988 cover

The Cumberland yearbook is a great starting place for alumni looking for information about their time at Ship. The 1988 yearbook is pictured above.

  • We can take that old scrapbook, commencement invitation, box of student organization bylaws and meeting minutes off your hands. We are so grateful to alumni who have donated materials from their student days. You wouldn't believe it, but it is actually really hard to fully capture the student experience. We get a lot of records from administration, but student information often falls through the cracks. We rely so heavily on generous alums who are willing to share their photos, letters, dance tickets, event posters, and more. Our current students always appreciate having materials that show them what life was like "back in the day," or how their favorite club started or evolved over time.
  • We can help you learn about local, institutional, and education history. Ship started as a normal school in 1871. We have many items in Special Collections and Rare Books that you can use to find our more about towns in our region, or past practices in higher ed.

If you have questions about archives, or SU history, contact Professor Christy Fic (cmfic@ship.edu), University Archivist.

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