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This article argues for college and university archivists to undertake advocacy and activism to better document student life. It discusses key shifts in archival and historical theory that supported an interest in collecting from a wide variety of people rather than just elites. Next, it describes recent archival scholarship on student life materials and considers the extent to which college and university archives are actively documenting the student experience via the collection of these materials. Analysis of the results of a survey of college and university archivists about the nature of these collections sheds further light on prevailing opinions of student life documentation programs. Finally, this article assesses how these factors combine to explain why students may not have been documented as thoroughly as other groups have been and what archivists can do about it.


This work was originally published in volume 35, number 1 of Archival Issues: Journal of the Midwest Archives Conference.



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