Digitized campus publications open a century of University history and debate to researchers
October 1, 1902, seemed an auspicious day to the staff of the new University of Chicago student newspaper, the Daily Maroon. Its writers took great pride in a number of historic events occurring that day: the launch of their paper; the opening of the new Law School; the start of autumn quarter, featuring the largest attendance in University history to date; and even the prospects for “a successful and satisfactory foot-ball season.”
But in addition to conveying school pride, page 1 also reports on the controversies associated with student life. The founding of the Daily Maroon as “a self-supporting student activity” rather than a university-funded entity is reported to have occurred only after extensive debates among faculty, administration, students, alumni, and the owner of a preexisting literary magazine. And an article on autumn quarter registration reports that a newly segregated registration process—with women in Cobb Hall and men in the Press Building—had become “the subject for conjectures among the students as to whether or not it was a forerunner of separate instruction.”
Digitized copies of the first 20 years of the Daily Maroon have recently been added to the University of Chicago Campus Publications website. Launched in April 2017, the Campus Publications site allows researchers to readily explore history from 1892 to 1995. Beginning at launch, the site provided digital access to four periodicals: Cap and Gown, the College yearbook; the University of Chicago Magazine, the official alumni publication; Quarterly Calendar, an early omnibus publication; and the University Record, its successor.
Other campus publications, such as the Maroon, are being added on an ongoing basis as digitization continues, and additional issues of the Maroon are expected to be added over the coming academic year. Because Maroon student reporters covered campus events of all kinds, even when other press did not, the Maroon’s accounts of lectures by visiting scholars, faculty academic debates, and arts performances are sometimes the only surviving historical record.
By visiting campub.lib.uchicago.edu, members of the UChicago community and researchers around the world can conduct a simultaneous keyword search of all of the publications on the site, using an interface built and maintained by the University of Chicago Library. As a result, researchers can sometimes rapidly access the distinct voices and perspectives of faculty, administrators, students, alumni, and guest lecturers as they engage with the vital issues of the day. One example can illustrate the point: “sex segregation”—as alluded to in the first issue of the Daily Maroon—was a vital subject in the early 20th century, and the University briefly experimented with separate instruction for first and second year male and female undergraduates. A search for the word “segregation” on the site turns up more than 100 citations for the decade 1900-09, often connected with sex segregation. Searches on other topics such as war or urban renewal uncover campus debates and involvement in topics of vital local, national, and international importance.
The Law School’s scholarship repository, Chicago Unbound at chicagounbound.uchicago.edu also serves as a home to many historical publications and other materials of interest to the campus community, alumni, and outside scholars. Developed by the D’Angelo Law Library and the Law School’s Communications Department and launched in 2014, Chicago Unbound includes PDFs of all issues of the school’s alumni magazine, The University of Chicago Law School Record, from its original publication in 1951 to 2017. The site also makes available all issues of the Law School’s Announcements back to 1903-1904. An essential resource on the Law School’s history, the Announcements includes course descriptions and information on the faculty and administration. Chicago Unbound also has video and audio recordings for three notable lecture series: the Maurice and Muriel Fulton Lectureship in Legal History, the Coase Lecture in Law and Economics, and Chicago’s Best Ideas. The D’Angelo Law Library will continue to build Chicago Unbound as a digital repository for researchers to uncover the Law School’s past.
Chicago Unbound provides access to some of the innumerable debates that have been central to the life of the Law School throughout its history. In the Fall 1999 issue of the Law School Record, for example, Law School faculty, deans, and alumni are shown to take pride in representing opposing parties in important cases “that unsettle precedent, fire policy debate, and advance new lines of legal analysis” on subjects ranging from anti-gang loitering ordinances to bankruptcy law to the constitutionality of same-sex marriage (Fall 1999, page 8).
UChicago faculty, students, staff, and everyone interested in University of Chicago history are encouraged to visit Campus Publications and Chicago Unbound to explore other campus debates and historic moments.