Skip to Main Content

WashU History Resources

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

Planning to use Archive Materials

When planning for an event, such as a reunion, keep in mind the following:

Start early to locate historic materials. We recommend allowing:

  • at least 1 week for locating the materials you want to use
  • about 2 weeks for Archives staff to digitize items, or longer if you are requesting more than 20 items.

► Figure out which semesters correspond with the reunion's Class year:

  • Class of 1990 = Fall 1987, Spring 1988, Fall 1988, Spring 1989, Fall 1989, Spring 1990
  • very little is filed by "class of" so you will need to know the years to check.

Consider scheduling an introduction session with archive staff.  This can allow you to expalin your project, ask questions, and help new staff or student interns become comfortable with the process.

Where to start?

Yearbooks are one of the best places to start your research.  Keep in mind that a yearbook was not published regularly after 1968, so this may not be an option for your event.

Next, consider checking the commencement issue of Student Life, published in late May or early June.  Often this includes a "look back" type article re-capping the year's events.  Some years, including 1998, also include a 4-year overview, going from freshman to senior year. 

WashU Yearbooks

The first Washington University yearbook was given the title “The Hatchet” in reference to the story of George Washington chopping down a cherry tree. This name was used predominantly, although various editions were given different titles. Activities, events, and athletic information are sometimes found listed in the year or years following when it actually took place. Until approximately 1941 the yearbook was produced by the Junior class.

Student Life Newspaper

Note: No index exists for student newspapers. Options to access the issues include:

Campus Images

To find images, remember that photographs are by topic in broad categories and often only grouped by decade.  Lists of these categories are available to consult before your visit (linked below):

Freshman year material

Lists of years available are linked below. Contact University Archives to access these publications:

WashU Magazines

The University has produced a publication directed towards alumni since the early 1900s.  The publication has changed name over time.  It is currently called Washington University in St. Louis Magazine

Check the finding aid for the list of volumes available at University Archive in original format.  Some issues are also available online.

WashU Record publication

The University has produced a publication Washington University Record directed towards the community since the 1970s.  It was a physical newspaper for many years, and is now electronic.

Check the finding aid for the list of volumes available at University Archives in original format.  Some issues are also available online.