University Archives Series: Student and University Publications

This post was written by Alina Moody, undergraduate finishing her degree in creative writing. She is an OSCAR student (Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, & Research) and is a copy editor for Broadside. Alina has worked on a variety of projects for Special Collections Research Center over the last two years.

Special Collections Research Center keeps a number of materials from student and university publications dating as early as 1960. This includes everything from university pamphlets handed out during Mason Day festivals to copies of Fourth Estate’s predecessor Broadside. Recently, I have taken on the task of reorganizing and creating an inventory for the Student and University Publication collection to include any recent publications or additions to the collection. I look through each box within the collection and organize the folders inside, giving them a more accurate box number.

Once I’ve finished numbering them, I enter their information (box and folder number, name of the work or description of the materials and the year it was published) in an Excel spreadsheet to create an inventory. Once this process is complete, I will use this inventory to create a finding aid and upload it to our website so patrons can see what we have in this collection. This is a small part of our larger project to make materials within university archives more accessible as many collections still lack finding aids. Patrons will then be able to use these materials more efficiently and will begin to see how many interesting collections we have in university archives (our materials are split into manuscript collections, university archives, and rare books).

While working on this project for Special Collections, I have encountered many older publications that I never knew Mason had. One of the most interesting finds I’ve made while reorganizing, has been Mason’s Expulsion paper. Expulsion was described in its debut issue as a, “not-even-remotely-for-profit, not-even-close-to-being-political organization” to rival Mason’s established newspaper, Broadside. It lived up to its secondary title of “Mason’s Superior Underground Newspaper” through sheer witty sarcasm; it featured weekly articles that made light of George Mason University’s news, often appealing to student’s true feelings about the college experience at Mason. Expulsion ran from 1990 to May of 2006, publishing thirty-two volumes in total.

The cover of Expulsion’s 1999 April Fools issue, which features a (badly) photoshopped spread of former GMU President, Alan Merten, doing a “Merten” Klein underwear photoshoot.

Expulsion’s special Star Wars issue in May of 1999. The cover features Expulsion’s own mission to oppose, “the evil Broadside Campus Empire, led by not so evil emperor, Mertentine.”

To search the collections held at Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. You may also e-mail us at or call 703-993-2220 if you would like to schedule an appointment, request materials, or if you have questions. Appointments are not necessary to request and view collections.

Digitized negatives from the Broadside photograph collection now available!

Archives Assistant Ignacio Bracamonte reflects on the Broadside scanning project and picks an image to share from the recently digitized, and now available online, box 7.

I was very excited to start this new project that Special Collections & Archives offered last semester. It has been over six months since my co-worker Liz and I started with the digitization of Broadside’s collection of photographs. I personally believe that working here, has involved me into George Mason more than ever. I am exposed to hundreds of images every day, where I witness the university’s development, history, important events, and even everyday life photos that were taken by students like me; the members of Broadside, George Mason’s student newspaper.

While  working at Special Collections & Archives, I have familiarized myself with many of Mason’s personalities and it is very easy for me to recognize them throughout the images: the faculty and staff members, the students, and the members of different organizations. After a while, you get a sense of affection to these personages and you can’t wait to know what happens next.


Rubenstein, Michele J. Opening of North Campus Broadside Office 5. October 14, 1973. George Mason University Broadside photograph collection, Collection #R0135, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.

This is one of my favorite photographs, where Jay Caine, director of Broadside, is inaugurating the newspaper’s North Campus office. Next to his colleagues, Jay Caine is about to cut the ribbon and establish a new office for George Mason’s student newspaper. This is a very symbolic image because it represents the beginning of Broadside. Even though the photograph was taken on October 14th of 1973, the newspaper endures and remains apart of the student experience at George Mason today.

Ignacio is currently scanning negatives from the Broadside photograph collection. The first box (box 7 in the collection) of over 900 digitized images are now available online. For more on the history of the student newspaper at Mason see the student newspaper exhibit blog post or visit the exhibit on the second floor of Fenwick Library until late April 2014.

Student newspaper exhibit now on view!

advertSpecial Collections & Archives is happy to announce a new exhibit is on display in Fenwick Library featuring materials from the University Archives. The exhibit is divided into two parts: What’s in a Name? and Broadside Images in Context. This exhibit draws on materials from the George Mason University Broadside photograph collection and issues of The Gunston Ledger, Broadside, and Fourth Estate student newspapers.

What’s in a Name? explores the history of the student newspaper at Mason from 1963 to the present by focusing on the name changes of the paper. The newspaper that represents the student voice at Mason has always picked its name carefully. It has changed names three times: The Gunston Ledger (1963-1969), Broadside (1969-2013), and Fourth Estate (2013-present). The second part of the exhibit investigates the Broadside student newspaper in detail, looking at photographs taken by Broadside staff. Thanks to a donation from the Office of Student Media of thousands of negatives taken by Broadside photographers, Special Collections & Archives now has a vast pool of images that accompany our collection of student newspapers. Displaying both the newspapers and the photographs provides a deeper look into how the Mason student body has changed over time.

This exhibit was inspired by the recent donation of negatives by Broadside photographers from the Office of Student Media and looks in equal measure to the future as to the past. The changes undergone in the format and scope of the student newspaper since 1963 are only glimpsed at in this exhibit, but hopefully it demonstrates how important the student newspaper is as an historical source. Today there are many changes happening in publishing as society transitions to digital media from the printed word. With the recent name change from Broadside to Fourth Estate I was curious what previous Fourth Estate editor Colleen Wilson had to say about the future of the student newspaper. She provided this quote for the exhibit:

“A college newspaper has a unique monopoly on their market, and in turn, a unique challenge. Especially in the internet age, content must be highly engaging and modern while still addressing critical issues. By drawing inspiration from publications like Buzzfeed to use gifs and videos along with traditional text to tell important stories about the Board of Visitors or Mason parking, Fourth Estate can stay relevant and interesting to a very distracted community of readers. Innovation, both in content, platform and execution is key to a successful model for Fourth Estate.”

What’s in a Name? and Broadside Photographs in Context will be on view in Fenwick Library (Wing A and C on the second floor) until April.