Daily Archives: December 16, 2009

Registrar’s Office Records

The Registrar’s Office was created in 1909 and served the dual purpose of admissions/registrar and bookkeeping for the school early on.  The University Archives holds a complete run of undergraduate catalogs and commencement programs from the office.  Commencement programs list the names of all graduates.  The first graduate catalog in the collection is from 1941, the next is 1962.  Please contact us if you have graduate catalogs published between 1942 and 1961. 

Other less, well-known records include a short run of baccalaureate programs 1911-1918 and 1932-1965 and commencement schedules.  In the early days, commencement activities included baccalaureate service, graduating exercises, alumni symposium, concerts, receptions, chapel services for alumni and an excursion to Mammoth Cave.

Student registers include student name, date enrolled, address, county and in some cases religious affiliation and parents’ names.  They can also contain the number of course hours taken.  The archives does not currently house student grades.  These records are extant for the years 1907-1949; and 1956-1960.  There is also a statistical file which gives information regarding enrollment numbers.

The records of the Registrar’s Office have been processed and finding aids posted in TopScholar.  These records are available for researchers to use in the Harrison-Baird Reading Room.


Filed under University Archives

Autograph books say: “Remember me”

Autograph book pages at Kentucky Library & Museum

Autograph book pages at Kentucky Library & Museum

In 1890, seventeen-year-old Jonnie McFarland of Bristow, Kentucky shared a hobby in common with many other young women: she kept an autograph book, a collection of signatures of girlfriends, siblings, visitors and beaux.  In an age when good penmanship was considered not only a valuable skill but a sign of discipline, industriousness and upright character, autograph books were popular keepsakes.  Not only did they provide a forum in which to display one’s fanciest script, they allowed contributors to show their imagination, artistic ability and literary wit with snippets of poetry, aphorisms, Latin phrases, drawings and sketches.

WKU’s Special Collections Library holds at least 50 autograph books, including that of Miss McFarland, in its collections.  Contributors to Jonnie’s book often added words of affection or encouragement over their signatures; one even wrote a message using the dots and dashes of Morse code.  Common to the scribes, however, was the wish to be remembered.  “When the leaves of your album are yellow with age,” one wrote Jonnie, “and the name I write here is dim on the page / Still think of me kindly and do not forget / Wherever I am I love you yet.”

A finding aid for Jonnie McFarland’s autograph book can be downloaded here.

To view finding aids for some (but by no means all) of our autograph books, click here and type “autograph books” or “autograph albums” in the search box.


Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives