CU Archives hold intrigue and important materials for scholars
by Annie Scott, sophomore, Psychology
From World War I documents to Gulf War documents, the CU-Boulder archives contains intriguing and historically significant collections.
The mission of the archives is to make available original materials of historical significance through collection, preservation and research. Housed in Norlin Library, the archives acquire materials concerning western Americana, politics, labor, environmentalism and peace and justice, as well as historical documents of CU-Boulder and the university administration.
A few of the more sought-after pieces acquired by the university include war documents such as the Iraqi Secret Police files, U.S. Navy Japanese/ Oriental Language School Archival Project, the Elise M. Boulding papers. These valuable collections are available in hard copy or on database as resources for research and scholarly work.
The Iraqi Secret Police files found their way to the CU-Boulder archives after being seized by the Kurds during the 1991 Gulf War. The Human Rights Initiative at CU-Boulder negotiated their acquisition and the files have since been made available to journalists, researchers and human rights lawyers. Many of these documents were used in the human rights trial against former Iraq President Saddam Hussein and his regime.
From 1942 to 1946, CU-Boulder was home to the U.S. Navy Japanese/ Oriental Language School, which trained students during World War II to break code and translate intelligence. In order to document the contribution these graduates made to the war effort, in 2000 the archives began collecting textbooks, World War II correspondence and other documents—an effort that was earlier begun by Japanese/ Oriental Language School graduate Captain Roger Pineaus.
The Women’s International League for Peace Freedom or WILPF, which was formed in 1915 during World War I, aimed to end violence through peaceful demonstrations. Boulding, a CU-Boulder professor and member of the group, acquired documents for the archives in 1970. Since then subsequent collections from the WILPF were brought to CU-Boulder. These include correspondence, newsletters and UN documentation, all of which continue to grab the attention of researchers worldwide.
The archive also provides opportunities to CU students. A unique program allows student assistants to spend the summer at a national park improving their archival skills and gaining valuable experience. The partnership between CU-Boulder and the national parks is funded by a grant from the Rocky Mountain Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit or RM-CESU.
In 2004 four students did archival work at Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park. Since then, a total of 14 students have participated in the program, spending the summer at places such as Everglades, Glacier and Yosemite National Parks. Scott Pawlowski, the memorial’s curator, said he was “impressed by the maturity, work ethic and training of student assistants.” Pawlowski first urged CU-Boulder to partner with RM-CESU so that contracting companies and park administrators would have a pool of experienced labor to draw upon.
The archives not only provide valuable documents to scholars, they also provide a way for students to engage in the preservation of history. For more information about the archives visit the website.