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History graduate student writes thesis on the history of ISU Archives

Postcard featuring an illustration of Old Main

A postcard featuring an illustration of Old Main.

For this week’s blog, we wanted to take a moment and congratulate Tammy Hansen who successfully defended her master’s thesis, “A Case Study of University Archives: Illinois State University Archives as a Model Archive” this past Friday in the Illinois State Department of History. With this final hurdle complete, Tammy will be graduating with a masters degree in history at summer commencement.  Tammy did something pretty special here at Archives, something we always wanted to do: record the history of the record keepers.

As the title implies, Tammy wrote a history of the ISU Archives.  And not just any history – Tammy’s work is the first thoroughly researched and comprehensive history of the department since its inception in 1970.  Tammy spent countless hours in the department, combing through our collections, looking for bits of long lost information on how both the department and the university has collected ISU’s long history.  She even searched through our office filing cabinets.

Along with her collections research, Tammy conducted several interviews with past directors of the department including Ann Sokan, wife of the first department director, Robert Sokan, and Jo Ann Rayfield, our department’s namesake.  Armed with this information, Tammy was able to look at other Illinois university archives and records management programs to see how they have developed through the years.  The result was a well-written, thorough, and candid look at the history of university archives in Illinois and what changes we can all make to better collect and preserve our institutional history.

It was a pleasure having Tammy in our office and we are immeasurably proud of her accomplishment!  With her work, we will be able to grow as a department and find new ways collect and protect ISU’s long and important history.  Congrats, Tammy!

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