The University of Northern Colorado has a rich and robust history which stems back to over a century ago. In that time, the university as well as the city has left its mark on history, and Head of Archives and Special Collections, Jay Trask, would be the first to let you know.
Walking through the basement of James A. Michener Library, one will find a room which lies in the heart of the building labeled “ARCHIVES.” At a glance, the room looks like a quaint operation, run by four or five people. One large room which holds several smaller offices which are home to the unsung heroes of the UNC archives.
Trask, who has been at UNC since 2009, cherishes the archives and the invaluable knowledge it provides to students, but he said he wishes more people knew about it. He holds monthly tours of the archives, which are open from nine to five, Monday through Friday.
Most recently he was able to invite members of Chicano Studies classes to explore the incredible history of UNC and Greeley, which has been preserved decades.
“Students need access to all of this information because it really isn’t just specific to one area of study. We have thousands of resources which have been preserved over the last century and each one can provide valuable information,” Trask says.
The most notable aspect of the archives is that all the information it holds is constantly being digitized and put online for student use. The archives currently occupy three rooms in Michener. The first includes school records, newspapers, and information related to the university. The second room includes special collections, which is comprised of decades-old art and literature which can be directly attributed to UNC alum. Lastly, the Archives have a room dedicated to James Michener, who dedicated his life to writing and research.
Perhaps one of the most exciting parts of the tour included viewings of the student newspapers, the Crucible and the Mirror. The Crucible, which ran from 1892 to 1920, is held inside of large books which were published monthly. While it started as a newspaper, it was picked up once more in 1960 and still runs today as a magazine of UNC’s literature and arts. The archives also hold most every edition of the Mirror since its beginning in 1919.
Trask seemed most excited about the documents which cover real students accounts of events, and even student-led protests which came under some scrutiny from administration in their time. Most notably, Trask recalled the 1971 UNC student yearbook which was comprised of political outrage aimed at the tensions in Vietnam and Cambodia. That edition caused the production of the yearbook to be halted for some years.
The archives are an invaluable learning tool which documents the life and times of many decades of UNC events and alum, and it comes as no surprise that it’s being utilized in classrooms today. The archives host a monthly tour, the next of which is at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, October 30th.