Uncovering Connections to the Past in the IUP Archives


IUP Special Collections and Archives

By Joseph Dell

The IUP archives are a treasure trove of information about the university and, to a further extent, the Indiana community. Volunteering in the archives has given me a better appreciation as to the nature of public history and how it is relevant to a community.[1] As a volunteer in the Archives, I was tasked with scanning IUP’s football programs for their digital archives project. The goal of the project is to make these programs more easily available to researchers. What I have found contained in the programs, which start in 1930s, has been at times entertaining, enlightening and interesting.


Football Programs 1987-1988

Within these football programs, the advertisements are perhaps the most interesting items. The changing attitudes of the country can be tracked through the advertisements, as at one time cigarette and whiskey ads adorned the football programs of an institution of higher learning! The opinions on ads containing images of alcohol or tobacco use have changed over the years and most people today would not find them appropriate in a college football program. Alcohol sales do not even occur in NCAA football stadiums across the country. The tone of the ads have also been refined over the decades.[2] The 1950s in particular have many sexist advertisements and are unabashedly directed to men. Such overt sexism is not seen today in print ads. One can also track the prosperity of the community businesses as they relate to the university through the presence of their advertisements. While many businesses have come and gone, several still remain. Many businesses have helped to support the university by placing their advertisements in the football programs. The exposure that those businesses has received has created a synergy between community and university.

How does this relate back to the archives and the football programs? Simply put, the football programs allow you to see how advertising has changed over the years. Within the programs are both connections to local history and national history as advertising has changed. While the local advertisements have changed little in their scope and content, the national advertisements have changed dramatically in the last 70 years. Local advertisements target those people that are attending the games and who will support their business. Larger companies also advertise.. Coca-Cola, for example, has been the advertiser at the center of the programs since the 1950s. A long time sponsor such as Coca-Cola shows a well-developed relationship between the university and corporate sponsors. Coke wants every thirsty person attending drinking a Coke. Another interesting item to note is that without the support of local sponsors, the programs would not have become as elaborate over the years. More and more pages in the programs have become dedicated to advertisements as the decades progressed. In the early programs, the advertisements were almost exclusively local, while in more recent years (I’ve scanned up to 1986) the advertisements are more of a mix of local and national businesses. Anyone who wants to can research these images to see not only how advertising has changed, but which local businesses have supported the university throughout the years.

Interestingly, although there is synergy between the community and the university, tensions also exist. The additional stress placed on the community by the inclusion of several thousand students has created a contentious relationship between the university and members of the community.[3] Indeed, most of the time there are never any problems, however every now and again there are incidents that cast the university in a bad light, through no fault of the university. That being said, without the added income of the students the town would not prosper as it has these many years. There is a delicate balance that has to be maintained, often times it is difficult, yet the connection between the two endures.


ScanSnap imager on the right is used to scan the programs

The purpose of an archive is to make available those materials in their collections to researchers. While the physical programs are held at IUP’s Special Collections, digitizing them and making them available through the IUP library’s website will make the programs that much more accessible to anyone who may be interested in their content. I have only focused on the advertisements, however there are a plethora of other uses as well.

The football programs illustrate interconnectedness of the University and the town by providing literal snapshots into the past lives of people that have lived, worked and gone to school here. Growing up in Indiana has allowed me to appreciate this project more perhaps than someone who is not native to the area. Like many Indiana residents, my IUP connection goes beyond being a student. As a child, my father and I would attend IUP home games every Saturday. The familiar boom of the cannon when IUP scores a touchdown still brings back pleasant memories. People may want to see the pictures of the IUP football players when they were younger. Some may have only played for one year or one game and are immortalized in those images and pages. I myself discovered in the 1983 program of IUP vs Waynesburg College the name of my Uncle Bobby, as he played linebacker for Waynesburg that year. A pleasant surprise to be sure! Childhood memories and small experiences such as this has made my experience working in the archives extremely worthwhile. This project has allowed me to make connections between university and community as a lifelong resident. Additionally, the skills that I have learned working in the archives will help me in my career as a public historian. As my work continues into the new decades, I look forward to see how much further the connections will go.

[1] IUP Special Collections website: https://www.iup.edu/archives/

[2] For useful questions in analyzing print ads – “Ad Analysis – Writing Commons,” accessed November 5, 2014, http://writingcommons.org/open-text/information-literacy/visual-literacy/ad-analysis.

[3] “Officials: Homecoming Weekend Less Raucous than in Past Years – October 13, 2014,” accessed November 5, 2014, http://www.indianagazette.com/news/indiana-news/officials-homecoming-weekend-less-raucous-than-in-past-years,20769176/.

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