George Fox University puts a high priority on fostering student identity and making sure alumni legacies are preserved—it’s part of their institutional mission. One way this is accomplished is through the IR initiative, Digital Commons@George Fox University, which has focused largely on providing a showcase for alumni content. The IR team often partners with the Alumni Office to publish ephemeral material such as Homecoming photos in image galleries. In addition, University Archivist & Institutional Repository/Acquisitions Specialist Rachel Thomas gives talks for city and county historical societies as well as writing columns promoting the services available through the IR to the public. Thus the alumni community is closely tied to the repository’s choice of content.
As George Fox University’s 125th Anniversary approaches, Rachel reports that it is a boon to have so much material in the repository showcasing the institution’s rich Quaker history which includes notable alumni. George Fox is a small campus with active alumni and a tight-knight community who are often part of the Quaker Church. Rachel says that alumni and local historians alike love the student newspaper (now available as far back as 1885) and the yearbooks, which are among the most downloaded materials in the repository. “Many alumni are very happy to be able to access their memories online. They share the pages actively with others and over social media (Facebook, twitter, Instagram).”
Rachel adds that “social sharing of alumni collections online has also led to alumni interest in volunteering in the archives.” Volunteers from the Alumni Auxiliary Association have generously given hundreds of hours working on alumni collections in the IR as well as donating materials such as programs, photos, and other ephemera. Rachel points out that, in line with the institutional plan that students know “your story counts,” the IR team is planning to collect oral histories from notable alumni and share stories via the IR. In addition, the Alumni Office is partnering with the IR team to have a scavenger hunt using the repository for digital clues.
We commend Rachel’s work using the IR to fulfill the University’s mission of spotlighting and preserving each student’s campus experience within the rubric of a Quaker legacy.