Established in 1976, the EKU Archives is home to a vast collection of materials related to the history of Eastern Kentucky University. Some of the materials housed in the archives include photographs dating back to 1906, yearbooks, videos of old athletic events, records of student government and board meetings, personal faculty papers, EKU memorabilia, and much more.
The Archives Office is located in room 126 on the bottom floor of the library. Anyone is welcome to go to the archives in order to access any physical items they may need. You can make copies of documents, look at pictures, and more.
“There are no two days the same,” said Jackie Couture, associate director of the Special Collections and Archives. “Different researchers have different questions each day, and processing and digitizing projects always bring to light new, interesting materials in the collection.”
Couture oversees the acquisition of new materials, processing and describing manuscript collections, instruction and outreach activities, and building the online digital collections.
“The Silver Loving Cup presented to Mary C. Roark is one of my favorite items found in the Archives,” said Debbie Whalen, the Special Collections librarian at EKU. “The cup is representative of her valuable service to Eastern. She was in charge of Eastern at a time when women could not even vote. Truly someone who broke barriers. She was retroactively named Eastern’s first woman president.”
Whalen received her Master of Science, Library Science (MSLS) at the University of Kentucky and has been working at EKU for twenty years. Debbie is responsible for collecting and maintaining rare and specialized books. She also connects people with resources in the Special Collections and Archives through one-on-one help.
“Helping people find what they need and seeing their eyes light up when they discover what we have is one of my favorite parts about working at the Archives,” said Whalen.
Another service the EKU Archives provides is their digital collections. They feature 182 different digital collections that are easily accessible from your computer. In these collections, you can find pictures, documents, postcards and more that can be conveniently downloaded for free. Some of the collections include: The President’s Office Records, the Foster Music Camp, Keene Johnson Papers and Athletic Director’s Office Records.
“I was really surprised at how cool this place is,” said Steven Fryman, senior psychology major. “If you’re an EKU student and haven’t been to the archives, I definitely recommend checking it out. I get a lot of inspiration for projects when I come down here.”
The Archives Office is also in collaboration with the William H. Berge Oral History Center. The Berge Center was founded in 2012 in order to preserve the work of the original EKU Oral History Center. The Berge Center archives oral history interviews and facilitates the creation of new, high-quality interviews. Anyone is able to access and listen to the nearly 3,000 interviews that are preserved on the Berge Center website. You can search for interviews by name, tags, date added, collection or even the creator. Some of the collections include Moonshining, the 1979 National Football Championship, Kentucky Murders, Mountain Music and EKU Women.
Students who are interested can also get involved with the archives at EKU. The archives are currently looking to document how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyday life as a student at EKU. Students are encouraged to encapsulate their thoughts and feelings and keep an organized record of their lives. Formats include journals, blogs, film, series of artworks, short stories, poems, and any other creative medium the student chooses. If you have questions on how to submit your experience, check out https://libguides.eku.edu/share-covid-impacts.
Even if you are not a history buff, you have to appreciate the archives for preserving the culture of the community and Eastern Kentucky University. The items stored at the EKU Archives are a culmination of what defines our identity. Colonel pride is not just a feeling, it's a product of our past and where we come from.