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Decades of KSU yearbooks online

By Bryan Richardson

What was life like on the Kansas State University campus in 1926? What courses were offered in 1929? What were your parents or grandparents involved in when they were Kansas State University students?

The answers are now just a click away. Thanks to a digitization project by K-State Libraries, the university’s Royal Purple yearbooks and annuals from 1926 to 2006 are now available.

The searchable archive is open to all at no cost. Also digitized have been course catalogs from 1925 to 2006.

Through an agreement with Collegian Media Group, formerly Student Publications Inc., at K-State, all of the yearbooks — from cover to cover — except for the most current three years, have been or will be digitized, said Beth Turtle, associate professor and head of scholarly communications and publishing at K-State Libraries.

Royal Purples from 1898-1925 should be added in the next few months. Turtle said the project was part of an effort by K-State Libraries to make the university’s historical materials more available.

“K-State Libraries has wanted to digitize the university’s historical materials for quite some time, especially with Kansas State University’s sesquicentennial approaching,” she said. “Materials that were prioritized for digitization include the Royal Purples, Kansas State Collegian and previous student newspapers, course catalogs, and older theses. We were able to get subsidized funding through the LYRASIS Mass Digitization project and the Sloan Foundation. The Friends of K-State Libraries also contributed to the project.”

The Collegians are in the process of being digitized and will soon be available, Turtle said.

“We’re also doing more than 7,500 theses and expect to complete this project by summer 2013,” she said.

As many schools across the country do away with yearbooks, Turtle said it’s important to show the relevance of the university’s award-winning yearbook. The Royal Purple has earned numerous Pacemaker Awards, which is given to the nation’s top yearbooks by the Associated Collegiate Press. The 2011 Royal Purple is a finalist for this year’s honor.

“Tony Crawford, curator of manuscripts at K-State Libraries, is quoted in the 2009 Royal Purple as saying, ‘Yearbooks are going out of style at many universities, but the Royal Purple is a historical document and a record of K-State. Without it, the university history would be lost.’ We hope alumni and others across the world will enjoy having access to these yearbooks,” Turtle said.

Since yearbooks are searchable by any word or phrase in the text, Turtle suggests those exploring the Royal Purple archives search by only the last name — unless it’s a common name like Smith or Lee. If you search by both first and last names, it’s best to put the names in quotes, such as “Tom Smith” — and to do the same for an organization. When browsing the yearbooks, Turtle said it’s best to use the “Read Online” version.

Several units and departments at K-State Libraries are assisting with the digitization project and include the digital collections unit, metadata and preservation department, university archives and special collections, and IT services and development.









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