Skip to Main Content

History of M.U. Departments & Programs: Home

English 1000

Primary Sources from the MU Archives

Documents To Look For

University catalogs or the announcement bulletins from specific schools would be the most convenient source to trace the number of majors a department offers over a period of time.

Departmental records of a dean, chair, or committee would provide the most comprehensive documentation of the establishment or demise of departments and programs.. Early records from the the Board of Curators might also reflect these decisions but the more recent records of the Board are held at University Hall.

Records from the Office of Institutional Research and Planning ( ) would be a likely source for faculty hires-per-year information going back to 1967. Prior to 1967, university catalogs, the Board of Curators' records, faculty & staff directories, and departmental records are all possible sources. The best resource would depend on the time period and time span of the search.

For student perspectives, the Maneater and its predecessor The Missouri Student (finding aid:, are both available on microfilm in the Archives Reading Room. Maneaters from the most recent years are not yet microfilmed but available in print format. There are various other student newspapers including the MSU Independent and the Legion of Black Collegians' Blackout that we have copies of; both in print and microfilm. However, some of these publications were short lived and our collections of the earliest ones are often incomplete.

Departments and colleges also do some writing up of their own histories, and these are available in the Archives reading room.

How To Find the Documents

The Archives' collections are arranged in a hierarchy, with a division between Campus and University System records at the highest (repository) level - Within the campus collection, Record Groups are designated at the College or School level. Departmental records are generally described as a Sub-Group or Sub-Groups within a College or School Record Group. Holdings within the College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources for example, exemplify this arrangement -

The Archives Web site ( ) does provide an internal GOOGLE provided search feature similar to the one on the MU Home Page. There is also a real-time GREP search option on our staff tools page with better recall capabilities than the Google search feature.

When searching an archives it is important to use search terms relevant to the time period, not the most current terminology. Many departments have changed their names over the years, while others have moved to a different school or college, or even grown into an independent school of their own. For example, the College of Human Environmental Sciences started out as the Department of Domestic Economy, within the School of Agriculture, in 1898.

Since departments change names or sometimes even colleges, it is often a good idea to research secondary sources for important dates or names of key administrators before using the Archives' finding aids. The Archives maintains a collection of vertical files on each school , college, and most departments, that are a good starting point for research. These files, along with the university catalogs and various university and departmental histories, are readily available in the Archives Reading Room. Many of our record group finding aids provide historical write-ups, or a link to one created by the department, that may provide some useful background information:

MU Archives contact information -

Primary Sources from the Western Manuscripts Collection

The Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Columbia comprises the manuscript holdings, including letters, diaries, and personal papers, of both the University of Missouri and the State Historical Society of Missouri. Our collections focus on the history and people of Missouri and include the papers of various University of Missouri departments and offices.

Our web site:, contains a search engine and subject guides to specific topics, including a guide to all University of Missouri related collections. Descriptions and complete inventories for many collections are available online.

Examples of Collections that may be of Interest

University of Missouri, College of Arts and Science, Records, 1908-1965 (C3406)
Correspondence, reports and forms from the dean's office discussing faculty, administration, policies, courses, committees, conferences and specific problems. Correspondence and reports pertaining to Missouri Bible College, Missouri College Union, and junior college accreditation.

University of Missouri, Department of History, Records, 1916-1965 (C3307)
Administrative, interdepartmental, and personal correspondence; minutes of meetings; administrative records; graduate files; applications for positions; federal relief programs; military training programs; university committees; Alpha Pi Zeta; Social Studies Council; and the semicentennial dinner.

University of Missouri, President's Office, Papers, 1892-1966 (C2582)
Papers from the administrations of Richard Henry Jesse, A. Rose Hill, J.C. Jones, Stratton D. Brooks, Walter Williams, Frederick A. Middlebush, and Elmer Ellis.

University of Missouri, School of Medicine, Records, ca. 1902-1959 (C3651)
Correspondence, minutes, annual reports, and other materials, arranged chronologically by dean. Information on personnel, Student Health Service, Crippled Children's Service, controversy over location of clinical training, and physical plant.

University of Missouri, Admission of Blacks, Papers, 1952-1954 (C0977)
Correspondence concerning the applications of blacks for admission to the University of Missouri during the years of transition from a segregated to an integrated institution.

University of Missouri, Admission of Women Centennial, Records, 1963- (C2603)
Correspondence and lists used in preparations for commemorative activities on the centennial of the admission of women to the University, 1968. Program bulletins, posters, press releases, copies of speeches delivered, photographs, and biographical materials on distinguished alumnae.

Our reading room, located in 23 Ellis Library, is equipped with a extensive card catalog index (person, place, or subject) to our manuscript holdings and inventories for all processed materials. The hours of operation are Monday-Friday from 8:00am-4:45pm and Tuesdays (when MU classes are in session) from 8:00am-9:00pm. First-time visitors are required to complete some paperwork and to show 2 forms of ID. MU students can be bring in their student IDs. WHMC materials cannot be checked out and must be examined in our reading room. Photocopies of materials are available for $0.20 per page for the first 200 pages and/or $0.50 per page from microfilm. Researchers should note that many of the collections are stored off-site and require a 24 hour notice to recall. Students are welcome to call or email in advance to see if materials are available and to request the off-site collections be requested.

Primary Sources from Ellis Library Special Collections

The University of Missouri Collection is the most important resource for the published history of the University and academic departments in Special Collections (coded as SPEC MU in the UM LIBRARIES CATALOG).

To find departmental histories in MERLIN, use the LC subject heading: University of Missouri--Columbia. Dept. of ______.

Special Collections Website:

Location: 401 Ellis Library. Take elevator to 3rd floor. Turn left. Takes steps or wheelchair lift up at the end of the hall. The door is on your right.

Phone: (573) 882-0076

Contact : Kelli Hansen, (book collections), or Karen Paulik, collections)

Fall Semester hours: Monday - Friday: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm; Sunday 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm (Only the Closed and SPEC MU collections are available Sundays). Closed Saturdays.

Book Use Policies: The book collections are open to all users during regular hours of service.

Readers must fill out a call slip for each title needed. Information on the call slip includes the book's author, title, call number, and the name of the collection to which it belongs. Patrons must provide their name, address, ID number and telephone number. Positive photo identification is required.

Materials from the division's book collections must be consulted in the Reading Room only (room 401).

Books may not be checked out, with the exception of materials from the Closed and Weinberg collections. Special Collections Staff will assess the physical condition of materials from these collections and determine whether this permits their being checked out.

All materials in the department must be handled with great care. No marks may be added or erased. No tracings or rubbings may be made without specific written permission. Books should lie flat on the table while being consulted. No books, papers, or objects may be laid on top of the materials, nor should the reader lean on them. Special Collections staff may request patrons to wear cotton gloves in the case of particularly old or fragile materials.

The use of ink pens around the books is not permitted. Pencils are available upon request.

Patrons wishing to use rare materials must stow all large personal belongings, including coats, backpacks, large purses, and briefcases, away from the area in which the materials will be used.

Photocopying of rare materials is generally not permitted for books printed before 1800. Special Collections staff will determine the suitability of photocopying other materials based on condition.

Secondary Sources: Reference Books

Ellis Library has many subject encyclopedias, chronologies, etc., that will help you place the changes going on in M.U. departments in a broader context.

Encyclopedia of American Social History Ref HN 57.E58 1993 Our best social history encyclopedia in my opinion. Articles are long and include good bibliographies. Multivolume work; be sure to check the table of contents in the first volume.

American Decades READY REF E169.12 .A419 1994 Each volume covers one decade of the 20th Century.

Statistical Abstract of the United States (1879-date) Ellis stacks (NOT reference) HA202 .A38 If you want statistics for the year in question, pull out that year's Statistical Abstract. It is a book chock full of all sorts of social, economic and other statistics.

Secondary Sources: Books

Use the Library Catalog to find books... If you find a good book that is not held here, we can have it delivered here for you within a few days. Just use the "Request Book" function in the Library catalog.

Books designated as MU ELLIS REFERENCE or MU ELLIS READY REFERENCE are located on the first floor of Ellis Library (Ready Reference is closer to the Reference Desk). Such books may NOT be checked out. Books designated MU ELLIS are located on the upper floors and may usually be checked out. For their exact locations, see the signs by the elevators, the yellow slips placed throughout the first floor, or this online Location Guide.

Secondary Sources: Journal Articles

The databases with the most information about articles written on U.S. history and sociology are America: History and Life, Sociological Abstracts, and the more general, but quite large, Academic Search Premier. Only some articles will be available in full text. Please note that these links take you to the alphabetical list of databases; scroll down to find the database mentioned.

If you have found an interesting article that is not available in full text in the database you are looking in:

1) Check the Electronic Journals link from the library home page to see if that journal is covered in another full-text package.

2) If the journal isn't available electronically for the year(s) you need, do a search by Journal Title in the MERLIN catalog. Generally, the latest year's issues will be in the Current Periodicals Reading Room and the older ones will be upstairs at the call number location given in the MERLIN record.

Citing Secondary Sources

Please see the sources listed on the MU Libraries' Citation Guides website for information and examples of citation in the MLA, Turabian and other styles.


Profile Photo
Rachel Brekhus
168 Ellis Library

(Mon and Fri only). I work from home by default Tuesdays and Thursdays, but come to campus for in-person classes and meetings as needed.

MU faculty and staff can reach me quickly in Teams chat.

Students can reach me using the Email Me and Student Appointments buttons above.


Eric Leuschner

6 Tate Hall, MU English Department

Office Phone (573) 882-3460