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Special Collections and Archives at Tomlinson Library

Introduction to how to use archives and some of the significant collections and items held in Special Collections and Archives here in Tomlinson Library.

Cool CMU records

Did you know that the Criterion has been in publication since 1931? In the early years, the banner had to be hand drawn, and it was mimeographed on 8.5x11 inch paper. The student newspaper has covered a wide variety of major historical events on the national scale as well as documenting the continuous change and growth at what is now Colorado Mesa University. Special Collections and Archives holds the majority of the issues ever published and most of them are available online through Mountain Scholar.

The photograph collection contains a wide variety of images of the campus and student life along with headshots of individual faculty, staff, and students. There are also some historical photographs of Grand Junction and Colorado. Some of the oldest photographs include the original campus, the Lowell School building that used to stand where Grand Junction City Hall is now; theatrical productions held at Mesa Theatre; athletic teams; honor societies; and the concert band. Right now these can only be viewed in Special Collections and Archives but may be available online in the future.

The Athletic Office records hold a wide variety of information about the history and success of athletics at Colorado Mesa University. Items include photographs, game programs, media guides, correspondence, and administrative files that discuss the changes that took place after Title IX mandated the equal representation of women in college intercollegiate sports. The collection also includes memorabilia like athletic uniforms, trading cards, awards, and the 1982 championship football.

The Maverick yearbook records student life at Mesa College for most of the years from 1946 through 1980. In the early 1970s, the students switched to a magazine-style publication called Magenta Mare or Tremors, depending on the issue. This magazine style only last for three years and then the yearbook returned to being an annual publication. Unfortunately, with these transitions, 1975 has no type of yearbook. After the 1980 yearbook, the students switched to a freshman-only version that came out in 1981 and 1982 and again for a couple of years after the name change to Mesa State College. Most colleges and universities didn't give up on their yearbooks until the early 2000s, but Mesa abandoned there's earlier than most for some reason. You can see most of the yearbooks online (higher quality versions will be coming out in the near future).

Professor Paul Reddin of the history program started this journal as a joint effort by the Mesa College Historical Society and the Alpha Gamma Epsilon Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honors society. It was published by Mesa College and Mesa State College for 17 years, starting in 1986. The journal served as a depository for Western Colorado history and a workshop where students learned research, writing, and editorial skills. Over one hundred articles on the development of Western Colorado were published in the journal. The wide-ranging article topics include German prisoners of war harvesting peaches in the Grand Valley, Navajo migrant workers in the Grand Valley, WWII and its local impacts, water resources, local archaeology, and many others. It ceased publication in 2002. You can read it online or peruse this index created by librarian Barb Borst.

The Literary Review has a long history at Mesa College, Mesa State College, and now Colorado Mesa University. In its early years it tried out names like The Roundup and The Bell Tower (there have been three versions of the Victory Bell Tower on campus since it was first constructed after WWII). The Literary Review is the title that stuck from 1972 onward, and it continues publication today. The Literary Review publishes short stories, short fiction, poetry, and art created by CMU students and is printed yearly in the spring. Special Collections and Archives has a near complete run, with some issues from the 2010s missing (so if you know anyone who'd be willing to donate, please ask them to do so). Pinyon Poetry or Pinyon as it's now known, has been published by the English program since 1996. It's a national journal of poetry, prose, and art published at CMU. Issues of both of these publications are available in SCA.

Other CMU records

The Board of Trustees agendas and minutes contain important information about the governance of Mesa College, Mesa State College, and now Colorado Mesa University. The nature of the Board of Trustees has changed over the years. The university didn't always have its own dedicated board like it does now. For decades four colleges in Colorado shared a joint board which required a different governance style to what can be seen today. The agendas and meeting minutes for the dedicated institutional Board of Trustees are available online. Agendas and minutes from the shared state Board of Trustees are available in Special Collections and Archives.

Special Collections and Archives is a repository for past agendas and minutes for a variety of faculty committees. These committees are all based under the Faculty Senate and include the curriculum committees. More recent (2013 to present) faculty committee minutes are available online, but past agendas and minutes have to be accessed in Special Collections and Archives.

Over the course of its history, the institution has created a wide variety of financial records to document its functions. Not all of these are considered permanent records, but those that are or are deemed important for documenting the history of the institution, are often available in Special Collections and Archives. These records include a variety of budget documents published by the college/university over the years, audits performed locally and at the state level, and other financial records. More recent records can be requested through an open records request but historical budge records are available in Special Collections and Archives.

Historical records of building projects on the campus over the years can be found in Special Collections and Archives. These include blueprints, plans, financial documents, and dedication material. Also available are various photographs of construction and completed buildings. The historical records help to document the vast changes to the campus over the decades. Certain periods, like the 1940s, 1960s, 1980s, and the 1990s onward have seen vast growth of campus facilities. Some of the most interesting records relate to buildings that have either been torn down or been substantially expanded since their original construction. The most notable absences on campus are the original Mary Rait Hall, which served as a women's dormitory from its construction in 1942 until it was torn down in 1985 to make room for Tomlinson Library, and the W. W. Campbell University Center that was replaced by the current University Center. Buildings that have undergone substantial expansions include Wubben Hall, Moss Performing Arts Center (the original building held both fine and performing arts), and the Maverick Center.

Online archival research tips

  • Most archival materials are not digitized and online
  • Often archives include collection guides (also called finding aids) that describe a collection of items (photographs, syllabi, reports, letters, etc.), but nothing from that collection has been digitized
  • You can email or call the archives staff to double-check - sometimes the items have been digitized but not made available on their website
  • Be flexible with your search terms (also called keywords) - often a single word is better than a phrase (more than one word) to start a search
  • Google might help you find archives or collection guides, but you probably won't easily find digitized items from archival collections
  • Context is important to understand primary sources - often what you find in Google images is removed from its context (where it came from, who made the original, why they made it)
  • Archivists love context - (who, what, where, why, when) and make sure to provide as much as they can
  • Some digitized archival items can be easily downloaded as high-resolution digital files - others may require you to contact the archives staff and request a high-resolution digital file directly (this is typically determined based on the copyright status of the item)