Stamping Students’ History
New University Archives Initiative Seeks to Preserve Terp Organizations’ Past
A trifold display from a 2009 hip-hop conference hosted by the Black Student Union. Documents from a 1971 Pride Alliance lawsuit. A time capsule preserving 70 years of Alpha Phi Omega history.
What might seem like a random assortment of old items actually helps paint a broader picture of the University of Maryland’s past. Now, University Archives is handing the brush to students.
Stamp Your History is a new initiative launched this fall to bolster its student organization collections by encouraging student group leaders and members to communicate with UMD’s archivists to document records, organize materials and preserve contributions for years to come.
“There are 800-plus student organizations here. We’re trying to figure out, ‘How do we effectively and with more intentionality try to acquire student records?’” said University Archivist Lae’l Hughes-Watkins. “We really need to emphasize how important student contributions are to the trajectory of an institution.”
In partnership with the Division of Student Affairs, including the Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life and the Undocumented Students Program, University Archives is running workshops to introduce the initiative to student groups. Staff members are stressing what to keep—from bylaws and budgets to pictures and posters—and how to organize both physical and digital docs through careful labeling and storage.
Having a plan to transfer artifacts and items is critical, and a good first step is getting to know your friendly university archivists, they said.
“Being able to come in and visit with them and show your new members the things that you’ve done before tends to help continue an organization in the future,” said University Archives Coordinator Kendall Aughenbaugh.
Stamp Your History hopes to reflect UMD’s wide variety of student orgs, from Greek life to intramural sports and to cultural, academic and service clubs and beyond, with particular emphasis on traditionally marginalized groups. Maryland’s initiative goes hand in hand with Project STAND (Student Activism Now Documented), a centralized digital location for archiving student movements and dissent, which Hughes-Watkins helped start and now represents 70 colleges and universities across the country.
“We may have some representation of that community, but it’s not from their voice,” Hughes-Watkins said. “The effort with this particular project is to make sure that the records that we have are more student-centered.”