Written by Evan Spencer, Graduate Assistant
A few weeks ago, I moved from Louisiana to Tennessee to start grad school here at MTSU (You can read my introduction here, if you haven’t already).
Prior to moving to Murfreesboro, I had been to Tennessee one time. Like many new college students every year, I knew little to nothing about the history of the college I was attending. However, unlike most college students, I have a job in the best place to learn about that history: the archives!
The Albert Gore Research Center houses political and regional collections, but it also serves as the University Archives for MTSU. One of my first projects here at the AGRC is to reorganize the MTSU “Subject Files,” which basically serve as a place to start research on any subject pertaining to MTSU, from its Normal School days to the University period. Organizing these files has helped me to understand the development of MTSU into what it is today.
Ever wonder why MTSU athletic programs are known as “Blue Raiders?” What about how “Lightning” the adorable Pegasus became the Blue Raider mascot? Or maybe how the women’s volleyball team got started?
I’ve wondered, during the course of my reorganization, questions like… Who on earth is this guy, and how did he come to represent MTSU?
(Pictures from the MTSU Athletics Collection)
Organizing the MTSU subject files has also helped me get acquainted with the campus. Almost every building on campus, from dorms to class buildings to stadiums, has a file which teaches about its original name, purpose, and construction date. Many buildings, such as Kirksey Old Main, have had many purposes in the past. Prior to 1978, it wasn’t even called Kirksey Old Main, which means that the ever-popular abbreviation KOM was not used! Originally called the Normal School Administration Building, the building housed offices, laboratories, recitation rooms, society halls, the school library, and an auditorium which could seat up to 1,000 students! Imagine going to class, hitting the books, and meeting with your friends all in one building!
In addition to learning about the history of the individual buildings, I have learned where they are actually located! As a student in public history working at the AGRC, I’m very familiar with Todd and Peck Halls. As a grad student, I’m extremely familiar with Walker Library. However, I’ve had almost no contact with any other buildings on campus. Until I met the “Maps and Aerial Photos” folder in the subject files, that is.
Want to know how campus went from this:
(MTSU Aerial Photos)
to the sprawling nearly 500-acre campus we walk today? MTSU has grown (obviously) over the past 102 years, but some of the paths we walk today were walked by the original students of the Normal School in 1911.
If you are new at MTSU like me, or if you just want to learn more about the University’s history, stop by the AGRC! The newly organized MTSU Subject Files are ready to be searched and learned from!