Our university celebrates its 50th Anniversary as an independent institution this year. The above photograph is the only one from that day known to exist. It was most likely taken by a George Mason University (GMU) employee in a department housed in the North Building (today known as Finley) called Public Relations. While some versions of this photo have appeared with one or two of the students cropped out (most likely to save space for additional textual content), this one clearly shows that there were just as many George Mason students in attendance as there were governors, chancellors, and Advisory Board presidents.
SCRC’s upcoming exhibition, “We Are Mason: A Student History” will not only illustrate GMU’s first fifty years as an independent university, but will also focus on how Mason developed in the fifteen years preceding April 7, 1972. As the title suggests, there will be a significant focus on our students, as they were the main reason the institution that would one day be known as George Mason University opened in 1957. Images in the exhibit will illustrate student life throughout the years as well as development of university traditions, growth of the campus, and milestones in our institution’s history. The images and and physical objects in the exhibition date from 1957 to 2022.
Photography from three different collections in the holdings of the University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center will be featured. The Richard Sparks photograph collection features 121 images of George Mason College life taken between 1961 and 1965 by Mason student Richard Sparks. The Broadside photograph collection, R0135, contains over 55,000 images captured by Mason students working for the Broadside student newspaper from between 1973 and 2001. The George Mason University photograph collection, R0120 contains over 120,000 images taken by the University’s Office of University Relations from the mid-1950s to 2007.
In addition to this exhibition, SCRC will be celebrating this momentous occasion all year on social media – be sure to follow us (see below for links) and check out the hashtag #gmuscrc50 !
“We Are Mason: A Student History” is scheduled to run from April- August 2022 in Fenwick Library. The exhibition is curated by Robert “Bob” Vay, Technology and Exhibitions Archivist.
Follow SCRC on Social Media and look out for future posts on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-993-2220 if you would like to schedule an appointment, request materials, or if you have questions.