Exhibit celebrates 50th Anniversary of the Stanford University Archives

October 5, 2015
Josh Schneider

Continuing the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Stanford University Archives, the Archives is pleased to announce the opening of an exhibit, on view in Green Library's East Wing Lobby until October 25, 2015, shedding light on the origin and development of the Archives, as well as showcasing several treasures, including founding documents, a handle from the original Stanford Axe, and the ceremonial sword and scabbard of early Trustee, and founder of Palo Alto, Timothy Hopkins.

When Stanford University's Board of Trustees approved the founding of the Stanford University Archives in June 1965, with a mandate to identify, acquire, and maintain records of enduring legal and historical value that chronicle the development of university, they were not only aligning Stanford with the policies and practices of other top-tier peer institutions, they were also publicly affirming the importance of documenting Stanford’s administrative and academic history as a testament to Stanford’s academic maturation and impact on the pedagogical ecology. 

What has changed in the last fifty years? Now comprising part of the Department of Special Collections and University Archives of Stanford University Libraries, the University Archives provides faculty, students, adminstration, and other researchers with access to over 2,100 collections (totaling more than 30,000 linear feet and 7 terabytes) documenting the Stanford University campus, founders, administration, faculty, teaching, learning, and research, as well as campus events and student life. The Archives also maintains a rich outreach and exhibits program, and collections are regularly used to support classes and exhibits at Stanford and beyond.

In addition to collecting tens of thousands of linear feet of documents, publications, photographs, maps, posters, and audiovisual materials, the Archives has continually refined its collecting and preservation efforts to account for rapidly shifting technologies and file formats, including new media types. The University Archives now routinely collects digital files, including documents, photographs, data sets, audiovisual materials, websites, social media, email, and even text messages(!) created by faculty members, administration, student groups, and other Stanford community members, transferred through legacy storage media, external hard drives, and via the cloud. In 2015 we received a generous grant from the federal government to further develop ePADD, a robust tool for the description and discovery of email archives.

Besides collecting new material types, the Archives has also worked with library and campus partners to digitize hundreds of thousands of legacy photographs, audiovisual recordings, maps, architectural drawings, three-dimensional objects, and more, including over 120 years of back issues of the Stanford Daily. Through social media and enhanced library discovery tools, the Archives has been able to provide rich online access to Stanford’s history to scholars around the world.

Fifty years after our founding, as we approach Stanford’s 125th anniversary in 2016, the University Archives is committed to continuing to collect, preserve, and provide access to materials that help tell the story of Stanford, including through the Stanford Stories Project and Stanford Alumni Legacy Project. We are especially committed to future engagement with campus partners in order to continue to build collections that more fully and accurately represent the diversity of Stanford community members, including students and alumni. 

For more information about the Stanford University Archives, or about any of the collection materials included in this exhibit, please contact the University Archives at universityarchives@stanford.edu.