November 01, 2017
A Lesson in Using the Archives to Explore Campus Reactions to National Events
It is our duty as adherents to a liberal arts education to reflect upon history and draw lessons from what it reveals. 50 years ago, Ursinus was experiencing and navigating the Vietnam War along with the rest of the nation. In a uniquely Ursinus manner, the responses varied widely with some members of the college being vehemently anti-War while others acted with indifference. 1967-8 was not entirely subsumed by the war however, as many students and faculty found a way to brighten the campus with Ursinus-esque shenanigans. Professors organized “a Happening” on campus, a product of NYU’s Theatre of the Absurd, which relies on “sense bombardment” to trigger a reaction from the audience.
Imagining what Ursinus looked like 50 years ago without the archives would be impossible. We are able to curate exhibits that explore culture, politics, and campus climate due to the meticulous collection and preservation of primary source documents. In order to use history as a way to inform the present, we must continue emphasizing the importance of document collection.