Exploring the archives

The university archives, located in the basement of the library, contain information and artifacts from the history of Wilfrid Laurier University dating back to its origins a century ago.

The archives and special collections reading room is open to both students and the public. Many students have used the reading room for researching for their school assignments, but Julia Hendry, head of archives and special collections, hopes that students will venture into the archives simply to learn more about Laurier’s past.

“We have a lot of neat stuff that documents the student experience,” said Hendry, who believes that students would enjoy their extensive photo and video collections more than anything.

On top of photos and videos, the archives contain student and faculty papers, minutes, reports and bound copies of The Cord.

The archives recently acquired a collection of artifacts from different periods in Laurier’s history. Alumni have contributed old apparel and memorabilia including beanie hats, college coats and a large stuffed golden hawk.

“I think my favourite thing that came in was a woman’s garter she would have worn at her wedding,” said Hendry. “It was purple and gold and said ‘WLU’ on it.”

The archives are currently sponsoring an essay-writing contest in honour of the university’s centennial. The contest is open to all Laurier undergraduate students and invites them to write about WLU history.

“It’s a 1000-to-1500-word essay on any aspect of the history of the university,” Hendry explained. She added that conducting primary research at the archives is not a requirement, but she encourages it nonetheless. The archives website suggests topics including the 1929 decision to admit women to the school, depression-era student life and the 1971 student strike.

First prize for the contest is $750, and separate prizes exist for runner-up and the top writers from first-year and the women and gender studies program

The Archives also recently compiled a series of web videos based on Laurier’s history. The videos feature Winter Carnival, the history of the Laurier Golden Hawk, and Shinerama.

These videos can be found online at www.youtube.com/laurierarchives.