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Digitally Archiving The Kaw Yearbook

By Washburn University

Digitally Archiving The Kaw Yearbook


The 150th anniversary celebration generated and will continue to generate much interest in Washburn’s history. One amazing source of this history is The Kaw yearbook collection; for nearly 120 years, students of Washburn University have published a yearbook with photographs and stories of Washburn students, campus activities and events. Currently, these resources are only available in person (and by appointment) at the University Archives. If the rich history found in the university’s yearbooks were easily accessible on the Washburn website, it could benefit thousands of students and alumni instead of the several dozen a year who now make the effort to visit the Archives.


Digitizing all the editions of The Kaw is a massive and costly undertaking. The University Archives does not have the equipment to quickly scan this high volume of sensitive archival documents, and with only one archivist and one student assistant, we do not have enough staff to complete this project ourselves.

Funds raised for this project will help Mabee Library outsource the digitization of the entire collection of yearbooks to a company that specializes in handling fragile and unique materials. Sending all the yearbooks for digitization at once, rather than in smaller batches, is actually more cost-effective, and means these resources will be available to the Washburn community in a timely manner. This model will cut digitization time down to just 2-3 months, and will allow archives staff to focus on organizing materials and creating an engaging web presence.

Impact on Students:

The Kaw yearbooks are a treasure trove of information and history for all members of the Washburn community, including current students, alumni, and their families. Creating a searchable, online collection of these yearbooks will provide generations of current and past Ichabods a rich resource that supports scholarly and genealogical research.

In addition, digitized Kaw yearbooks will provide Washburn faculty with classroom resources that tie national/international events, theories, or big ideas to a local place—the Washburn campus and community. Perhaps most importantly, by making Washburn history more accessible to students, faculty, and the public, this digital collection will promote Ichabod pride and identity.

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