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WUSTL History Resources

A guide to researching the long and complex history of Washington University in St. Louis (Missouri, USA).

When were they at W.U.?

If you have an approximate date, these sources can help you find when someone attended W.U.

Some of these resources are available in full text online, while others are available to researchers at University Archives.

For students in the 1850s - 1910s, check early alumni lists, Course Catalogs (Bulletins) for student directories, and commencement programsStudents began producing a yearbook in 1903.

For students 1920-present, check Campus Telephone books, alumni lists, and and commencement programs. Yearbooks were published regularly 1920 - 1968, and irregularly 1969-2011.

Tips on Finding someone in the yearbook

The Hatchet yearbook is often the best source of information:1903 Hatchet

WHY THE HATCHET? Because George Washington, namesake of the school, chopped down a cherry tree with a hatchet!

  • Between 1970 and 1999 some classes did not publish a yearbook. Consult archives staff for alternative sources for these years.
  • Individual photos are included for most Junior and Senior students - often with a list of their organizations and activities. 
  • During Freshman and Sophomore years a student may be pictured with a group (fraternity, honor society, athletics).
  • The content and layout of each yearbook is unique since it was published by a different group of students each year.  Some years include an index of names, but it is not always accurate.
  • Remember that not every student is listed or pictured, it was their choice!

Information in Course Catalogs

Catalogs ("WU Bulletin") are a great source for:WUSTL modern logo

  • cost of tuition 
  • admission requirements
  • scholarships available 
  • (official) descriptions of classes
  • determining when a department/ program started, or changed names

Difficult to locate students

Please keep in mind it can often be difficult to locate information about a person you believe attended Washington University.  Below are common reasons:

  • Art student. From the 1800s through the 1940s the School of Fine Art did not grant degrees, and students were often registered through only the Art School.  Students also could attend night classes, Saturday classes, and /or attened part time -- all of which makes locating their name in documents less likley as rosters were not all kept.
  • University College. Students who attended the evening school of the University are rarley including in the yearbooks. Often "UC" students attend for longer than 4-years, and so their dates of graduation may not be as you expect.
  • Only attened one semester. If a student only attended for one semester (or less) they may not show in any archived documents.  In this case, we recomend contacting the Student Records Office.