Using the Information Gathered in the Archives

The Classics had a heavy influence on the University in its beginnings, especially through its domination of the curriculum, but by the 1920s, the University seemed to have more of an influence on Classics. The study of Classics went from required to optional (and it remains optional today). A similar phenomenon in the present is that as business and science majors give students more job security, the humanities (still including Classics) become less "safe" as profitable career paths and their departments receive less funding. Looking at the influence of the early Classics department can help people to see that money, not necessarily lack of interest, has the most influence on a student's educational options, and might encourage people to support keeping the humanities alive in education so long as there are students who are interested in studying them.

The documents I have found in the University Archives for The Beginnings of the UNL Classics Department: An Inquiry into Influence have shown me how time has changed education at the University of Nebraska from 1871 to 1936. The change of education over time is historically significant because it continues to occur. As the University's priorities change, so will its curriculum. Through this archive, it's possible to see the events which caused the University's curriculum to change in the 1920s. The students' fear of not maintaining a living after graduating college drove the curriculum change. That same fear exists now, and humanities departments are slowly loosing funding. Current humanists might find this information useful in planning their futures, but they also might find the subjects within this archive (the professors and students) to be heartening examples of humanists who succeeded during a time of doubt.

Turning the materials from University Archives into a digital project cuts any prospective researcher's document-finding time exponentially. All of these materials are housed in separate boxes on different shelves throughout the University Archives. By taking all the materials that have to do with the early Classics department and putting them together, a researcher would no longer have to dig so deep. The materials are closer together in space within the digital project and that means my project will be more accessible and take people less time to look through than if they had to go find the materials themselves.

By turning my research into a digital project, I've learned that digital space allows for quicker analysis. The materials for this project were acquired over more than 150 hours of research in the Archives & Special Collections. Among the materials are photographs, published articles, transcribed letters, and curriculum bulletins. It wasn’t until I looked at all of my materials together that I realized the classical curriculum went away in the 1920s. Once I figured that out, I read materials pertaining to this downfall more carefully. Then I was able to create the basis for my project. Presenting these materials in a website format helps University Archives because it allows for researchers to view materials anywhere they have access to the internet.

As technology becomes more advanced, I would recommend that the humanities disciplines keep up their knowledge of digitization. If the humanities are to survive periods of doubt, they need to remain accessible. Computer programming doesn’t have to be an exclusive skill. Any person who wants to put information out into the world can benefit from having some knowledge in programming.

Using the Information Gathered in the Archives