Reorganizing the GMU Oral History Program Collection

This post was written by Emily Curley, our Oral History Program Coordinator.

The George Mason University Oral History Program has conducted over 200 interviews since 1999. Because we’re always adding to the collection, it’s time to reorganize the physical collection and the finding aid.

Oral History Collection, #R0122, in our closed stacks.

What we’ve done so far:

We’ve reorganized the physical collection. This included moving CD’s of oral history interviews into new boxes and arranging the individual interviews by date, rather than alphabetically. The collection increased from nine to eleven boxes and range from the late 1970’s to 2017. These histories cover a wide variety of topics including the history of George Mason University and Northern Virginia.

Our Next Steps:

  • Comparing the finding aid to the physical collection
  • Revising long abstracts and creating missing abstracts
  • Creating a new finding aid
  • Creating workflow for periodic updates of the Oral History finding aid

We will compare the finding aid to the physical collection and fill in any missing interviews. The finding aid was last updated in 2013, so there are over 50 oral histories that need to be added. After we have confirmed that all of the interviews are updated, we will check the finding aid once again and revise some of the abstracts. Some abstracts have too much information while others have too little. Our aim is to be as consistent as possible.

A box with an oral history pulled out to show what information goes on the labels.

After confirming that the abstracts are correct, I will be working with the Archives and Manuscript Librarian, Liz Beckman, to create a new finding aid, which is expected to go on our website sometime this summer.

Finally, I will create a guide for the next oral historian (who will start in September) so that they can periodically add new interviews and keep the finding aid up to date.


GMU Oral History Program


Finding Aid

Other Oral History Holdings


To search the collections held at Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. Appointments are not necessary to request and view collections. Additionally, requests can be made to listen to oral histories in our Reading Room. Copies can also be made for a fee, which are listed on our website. Some oral histories may need to be converted to disk before they are available to patrons. For questions about oral histories, contact Emily Curley. To schedule an appointment or to request copies of an oral history, contact our Research Services Coordinator, Rebecca Bramlett.

Let the Broadside negatives scanning project commence!

This fall SC&A received a generous grant from the Auxiliary Enterprise Management Council (AEMC) that is providing funding for new scanning equipment and two undergraduate students to scan, research, and contextualize negatives from the George Mason University Broadside photograph collection. This project will make accessible approximately 10,000 original photographs of George Mason University taken by Broadside student newspaper staff. The images range in dates from the 1970s to the early 2000s, after which most photography was done digitally. This project will add to our knowledge of GMU history immensely and will provide much content for the George Mason University: A History website.

In the past few weeks we have set up the new scanner and computer and have hired two students to start scanning. I’d like to take this opportunity to let the students, Ignacio and Liz, who will be working with SC&A on this project, introduce themselves.


My name is Ignacio A. Bracamonte V. and I am an international student from La Paz, Bolivia. Currently, I am a junior, pursuing a double major in business management and marketing, while minoring in graphic design. Working at the Special Collections & Archives Department, at George Mason University, is a great opportunity for me because I am not only gaining work experience that will definitely contribute to my future, but I am also part of a brand new project. I am definitely looking forward to being a part of this creative and innovative venture while contributing to the SC&A department with my prior work expertise.

We are lucky to have such great students working with us! We will continue to update the progress on this project in the coming months.

Fenwick Library Plans in 1987

With the preliminary work underway for the new Fenwick Library addition, I thought these pages from a 1987 planning document would be of interest. Although they are quite different, the footprint of the new building will be be similar to the Phase IV addition featured in these plans. The big difference is that these plans included the retention of the old library (the A Wing), while the current plans call for that building to be demolished  Check out the two rooms on the first floor that are both labeled “Ideas.”

A 1987 plan showing the new building exterior design for Fenwick Library Phase IV. George Mason University Facilities Management records, Box 103. George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives. Copyright George Mason University.

A 1987 plan showing the first floor of Fenwick Library with the Phase IV addition. The plan also includes an outline of the Phase V addition. George Mason University Facilities Management records, Box 103. Copyright George Mason University.

A 1987 plan showing the George Mason University Farifax Campus with Fenwick Library and the planned expansion designs with Phase IV and Phase V. George Mason University Facilities Management records, Box 103. George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives. Copyright George Mason University.

GMU Arlington Campus History

A few weeks ago SC&A prepared a presentation on the history of the Arlington campus as part of a celebration and open house for the latest addition to the campus: Founders Hall. While Mason as a whole has a rather brief history, the acquisition and development of the Arlington campus is quite interesting and an important milestone in the University’s growth and increased prestige on the national stage.

Founded in 1979, the Arlington Campus began as the home to GMU’s School of Law. Since that time the campus has changed dramatically and now houses world-class programs such as the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and the School of Public Policy. The original goal of the campus was to be the home of the law school and other programs that complement legal studies.

The School of Law figures prominently in the history of the Arlington Campus. GMU acquired the International School of Law in 1979 which would become the school we know today.

See the video of our presentation here:

The Story of GMU’s Arlington Campus

Photos of the GMU Police

A college campus is like a small town. People study, eat, shop, and live there. As a result, campuses need their own police department to ensure the safety of the tens of thousands of people who come to campus to work and learn every day. According to the GMU police website: In 1981, George Mason University’s 21 person security department was reorganized to form an autonomous law enforcement agency. Today Mason has a full service law enforcement agency which has maintained its nationally accredited status since 1991. There are over fifty sworn officers who patrol all three campuses.

Members of the GMU Police Force are state certified police officers empowered to enforce all state and local laws on all George Mason campuses, with the authority to make arrests and carry firearms. They are trained in emergency first aid, criminal law, criminal investigation, defensive tactics, crime prevention, use of firearms, sexual assault victim counseling, crisis intervention, crowd control, and enforcement of traffic regulations.

Spurred by a research request we recently discovered a large number of historical photos from the early days of the police department. Here are a few:

Officers pose outside of Krug Hall.

Cool police buggy.

Anyone who knows Lieutenant Barnes knows that he is one of the most friendly and helpful people at GMU. Here he is in his early days at Mason.