Research Log #1

I’m going to be researching the course catalogs from the 1950s, as well as helping with some of the alumnae interviews, if we do any. There are 10 different course catalogs, or “bulletins” available, although some years have duplicate copies filed together. All of the books appear to be in decent condition with no obvious missing pages or other damage aside from a few small tears and dog-eared pages. The earliest books are only about 150 pages long, but by 1959 they seem to have averaged out at about 190 pages. The catalogs offer a basic overview of the faculty and administration, the campus and its various buildings, student activities, and of course the courses of study and class lists. These catalogs also offer lists by student name of degrees conferred the previous year and current enrollment, plus a geographic distribution of students.

Summer course catalogs are also available, although they are much shorter than the full-year books. They describe which classes are being offered, which days they meet on, at what time and in which room. Presumably because the summer students have already taken at least one semester at MWC, these bulletins skip the photographs of campus and the descriptions of the buildings and student life activities.

These catalogs should provide information about which classes were offered from year to year, what the various major requirements were and the different degrees of study were conferred the most frequently so we can track the most popular majors throughout the decade. They can also show how many students came from different areas so we can judge how far most Mary Washington students traveled to come to school and, presumably, how far outside Virginia the college’s sphere of influence was.

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