Centennial Perspectives

Developing a Department or Organization History


Every department, program, and organization at BGSU makes a unique contribution to the intellectual and student life of the campus. The Centennial offers a special opportunity to gather and record the answers to frequently-asked questions about our past-or those, "You know, we really ought to have that information in a convenient form…" thoughts.

What kinds of information would make a good Centennial history? Where can you find the information? We can offer some suggestions. Not all the suggestions below are necessary for each department or organization.

Formal Histories

A department or organization history doesn't have to be anything elaborate and some of the information has probably already been researched. Information can include the date the organization began, disciplines covered in the curriculum, development of a graduate program (if any), outstanding faculty, officers, and mission, for example.

Information about People

The following lists are always useful, and information about individuals can be added as discovered. Include dates of service if located.

  • Department Chairs
  • Faculty and Distinguished Faculty Members
  • Secretaries and Clerical Staff
  • Outstanding Alumni
  • Officers

Information about Programs or Activities

In addition to noting the curriculum-related information below, information about the physical plant (what building housed the department offices, etc.), is also useful.

  • Department from which your department developed
  • Departments which developed from yours
  • Development of Graduate Programs
  • Named chairs, lectureships, fellowships
  • Colloquia and Lecture Series
  • Laboratory equipment, special libraries or other resources, especially those affecting coursework or research
  • Related honorary organizations
  • Related national organizations
  • Related student organizations
  • Related academic departments
  • Lists of events sponsored, projects, productions, concerts
  • Watershed events, such as major grants or research which affected the development of the department or group

Miscellaneous and Fun Information

  • Buildings, offices
  • Photographs, including a portrait of each faculty member, formal department group portraits, and informal snapshots of faculty and students
  • Outstanding service projects
  • Newsletters
  • Other publications


All the sources listed below are available at the Center for Archival Collections, 5th Floor, Jerome Library. In addition, there may be information to be found in departmental files or in the offices of colleagues.

Overman, James R. History of Bowling Green State University. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Press, 1967.
LD 4191 .O62 O9
Written for the 50th Anniversary, covering the entire university and its administration, with much detail about early faculty, staff, and programs.

Givens, Stuart. The Falcon Soars: Bowling Green State University: The Years of Growing Distinction, 1963-1985. Bowling Green, Ohio: Popular Press, 1986.
LD 4191 .O62 G5
Written for the 75th Anniversary, carries on where the Overman book leaves off, describing political and administrative issues

Weiss, Larry J.  Bowling Green State University: A Historical Photo Album. Fremont, Ohio: Lesher Printers, 1980.
pUA 0113  
Written to provide a more pictorial view of the university's history, showing not only faculty, staff, and buildings, but also student life and important events.

Annual Catalog. 1914-present. Departmental introductions evolve as the departments grow. Faculty and department officers are often listed, sometimes with their areas of specialization

Board of Trustees Minutes. Available from the earliest years of the university, they cover formal administration of BGSU, founding of departments, establishment of programs, finance, policies, etc. A general card index is available at the CAC.

BG News. Since 1920, the student newspaper has recorded changes in programs, activities of student organizations, carried obituaries of faculty, students, and staff, and reflected the tone of student life. An online index is available for most of the run of the newspaper, and a card index at the CAC supplements it. The online edition of the BG News (since November 2000 )is also available and separately searchable.

Key Yearbook. Since 1918, the yearbook has carried photographs of faculty, students, buildings, and activities on campus along with a brief synopsis of special events.

Commencement Programs. 1914-present. Lists all degrees granted to individuals, commencement speakers, etc.

The Monitor. A faculty newsletter published since 1973 and available online since 1997 contains information about faculty, administrative, and classified staff, events, and policies.

Alumni magazines. Published under various titles since 1942, usually includes longer feature articles about departments, faculty, alumni, programs, buildings, etc.

Faculty Publications. Using the faculty member's name, search online library catalogs and the Monitor to compile lists of publications.

Student Handbooks. Including particular handbooks geared to women students or freshmen, these handbooks discuss campus living, rules, and organizations.

Directories. Telephone directories and other lists of students and faculty are available at the Center for Archival Collections.

Manuscript Collections. Letters, journals, scrapbooks, and other material gathered by individual faculty, administrators, and students. A bibliography is available online.

University Archives Photograph Collection. Organized by topic or activity, the collection is especially strong from the 1960s-1970s, but includes many historic photographs of faculty, campus, and student activities.

University Archives. Records of permanent administrative or historical value are maintained here, including information on administrative, business, and academic matters; faculty and student organizations; many university publications. Records of previous anniversary celebrations. Some departmental and organizational records inventories are available on line.

Other university publications. Including alumni and department newsletters, campus maps, dedication programs, official policies, correspondence, and financial records.

Departmental and Office Files. Not all departments and organizations have transferred their historically important files to the University Archives. The information you're looking for may be right down the hall.