Research Guide: Information for University Relations Staff, Student Employees, and Volunteers

The University Archives is the official repository for the records of Wesleyan's departments, offices, and administrative units. In addition, the Archives is responsible for maintaining and adding to Wesleyan's institutional memory by documenting its people, places, and activities. The staff of Special Collections & Archives (SC&A) in Olin Library are available to assist researchers of all levels of experience who are working on Wesleyan history-related projects.

This brief guide is intended to answer frequently-asked questions about the services we provide, how we can assist you with research projects, and the types of materials available for use in SC&A and at Olin Library.

Should we refer people to SC&A directly?

When you receive questions from alumni/ae, relatives, or other interested parties about Wesleyan history, please forward them directly to us. Questions we regularly answer for alumni/ae and other outside researchers include: biographical sketches of alumni/ae and faculty members; campus buildings and architects; and student organizations and activities.

When will I need to come in to SC&A to do research?

For brief questions or for editorial fact-checking, you can phone or email us and we'll gladly answer your question. We can also send you a few photocopies via campus mail or fax.

If you are researching several individuals or an event that will likely require looking at multiple sources, it's best to come in to SC&A to do research. If you let us know what you're working on in advance, we can have a number of collections and sources waiting for you to examine.

If your project requires the selection of a number of items such as photographs or clippings related to a particular subject or class, we prefer that you make the selection of items from the available sources, rather than our doing the selecting. Depending upon your topic, we should be able to provide you with a wide variety of choices.

How far in advance do I need to request assistance?

If you have a brief question, we are normally able to give you an answer within 24 hours. For in-house work, items that are requested by researchers are normally ready for use within 24 hours. If you're working on a larger project that requires research in SC&A, we appreciate having a few days. notice so we can identify and locate all the sources you'll need for your work. Frequently-consulted items, such as most runs of university and student publications and our entire subject files, are housed in our Reading Room, and are thus available for easy use whenever we're open. We also realize that a lot of publication work can be time-urgent, and we're happy to assist in these situations as much as we can.

What materials should I examine to research a specific Wesleyan class?

Most archival records are organized by topic or subject, so finding information on an entire class's members and activities may require examining a number of sources. University publications are the best starting points for researching an entire class. Plan to look at examples of the following for the particular years you're interested in: Commencement programs, the Olla Podrida, the Argus, Hermes, and other student publications, the frosh facebook, and student and faculty directories.

What types of reproductions can be made from archival sources?

For documents in SC&A, we will (condition permitting) copy the items for you. Photocopy charges are $.10 per page. Our standard limits for reproducing materials are 50 copies per archival box or 15 openings per book or bound periodical.

We have a flatbed scanner and digital camera for imaging and can arrange for standard photography of archival documents. Please consult us for costs of these services. We can provide every resolution from web quality to offset litho reproduction quality, depending upon the document's ultimate use. We also allow researchers to use their own cameras to photograph documents with advance notice.

For university-produced documents and publications, we will grant permission for copying and reproduction of images in other documents or websites. For documents in which we do not hold copyright (such as honors theses), we will assist you in requesting permission for copying and reproduction.

Types of documents found in Olin

The Olin Library stacks hold a number of university and local publications that can be checked out, photocopied in the library, or scanned at any computer lab on campus by you or your students. (During the semester, Olin is open weeknights until 2am!) The following publications can be found in Olin:

  • The Argus from 1868 to the current issue.
  • The Olla Podrida from 1862 to the current year.
  • The Alumnus/Wesleyan magazine from 1916 to the current issue.
  • Bulletin/Course Catalog from 1831 to 1998.
  • Complete runs of the Middletown Press and Hartford Courant (on microfilm).
Types of documents found in SC&A In addition to having copies of the above publications, SC&A also has complete runs of the following:
  • The Alumni Record, alumni/ae directories, and class reunion books.
  • Student and faculty directories from 1831 to the present.
  • Frosh facebooks from the class of 1959 to the present.
  • Faculty facebooks from 1959-1974 and 1984.
  • GLSP faculty and student directories/facebooks from 1961-1972.
  • Commencement programs from 1833 to the present.
  • Undergraduate and graduate theses.
  • Department and office annual reports.
We maintain extensive subject files on Wesleyan topics that contain clippings from local and national publications, obituaries, programs, invitations, schedules, bibliographies, and other documents. Examples of subjects include: coeducation, food/dining issues, and protests, as well as files for individual buildings, faculty members, student groups, campus offices and departments, and some Middletown-related files.


The archives has over 30,000 images of Wesleyan people, places, events, and activities dating from the first class daguerreotype in 1849 to present-day digital photographs.