Best Practices for Developing Department, School or College Histories
Originally compiled by The University History and Research Working
There are no strict guidelines on content or
presentation of unit histories. However, below are some best practices to
consider, along with some campus examples that already exist:
1. Encapsulated-- If the history can be
encapsulated into areas of interest or segments of time, smaller sections can
attract targeted readers. Consider sections that cluster around:
- notable people, such as alumni, faculty, students.
- major accomplishments or milestones of the program, department, school or
- decades in your unit's history.
- teaching and the development of the field/the curriculum and its evolution.
An example from the
of Aerospace Engineering.
2. Textually Interesting -- Consider this a
public document; make the history interesting to read. Leave the details for a
more data-rich, internal document. The public history should feature the
highlights, challenges, even the unexpected.
- Think of the history as a story or narrative.
- Use a timeline, outline, or other literary forms as appropriate.
An example from the University Archives is
University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium. Other examples come from
of Education and the
James Clark School of Engineering.
3. Visually Inviting
-- Consider designing your history using images (documents,
photographs, or memorabilia) available in the department/college/school, the
University Archives, or from alumni and retired faculty and staff.
4. Accurate -- reliable sources and compare
information from various sources to verify accuracy.
- In addition to consulting with the University Archives staff, the
Archives has a number of sources that can assist in the development of
department or college histories:
5. Contextual -- Provide context of national and
state events and trends where possible. If your unit has an international
presence, ensure that it is reflected accordingly. Here is an example from the
School of Business.
6. Multi-functional -- Make this investment of
time and effort deliver in multiple ways. Think of other uses for a departmental
or college history, such as:
- background for grant and award applications
- background for department or college reviews, be they campus or external
- components of a promotional piece to present highlights to various publics,
e.g. donors, alumni, future students, both graduate and undergraduate.
- opportunity to gather a lot of information that may exist in several areas
of the department or college into one document
- a record to which future deans and department chairs can refer
B. Formats -- Think about presenting the history in a
variety of formats.
- Web (allows for the inclusion of audio and/or video clips e.g. oral
- Brochure or other hard-copy publication, e.g. insert to a magazine or other
departmental or college publication
- CD, DVD, or other audio-visual medium
- Exhibit (temporary or permanent, analog or online)
C. Preservation -- Upon conclusion of compiling the history,
gather all documents used and submit them, together with a copy of the finished
document or Web file, to the University Archives. Contact University Archivist
Anne Turkos (5-9060 or email@example.com) for
information on how to submit your finished product.