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WSU Libraries

Digital Collections

About this collection

The items in this collection are held in Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections in WSU's Terrell Library, specifically the Commencement portion (WSU 86) of the MASC's WSU Publications collection.

The Collection:

While Washington State University (then Washington Agricultural College and School of Science, or WAC&SoS) began offering courses in 1892, its first collegiate graduates did not complete coursework until 1897.  Since then, commencement and baccalaureate ceremonies have been conducted annualy (or bi-annually).  This collection compiles graduation brochures, commencement and baccalaureate addresses, invitations, calendars, and anything else collected by the University Archives and related to those ceremonies.


At present, the programs portion of this collection begins in 1892 and is nearing completion up through present day.  Any smaller items we have to present day are included; if small items are missing, that means the archives does not hold them.  The collection is yet not complete; I believe currently missing commencement programs are 1897, 1903, 1906-1907, 1909, 1960-1961, 1976-1977, 1979, 1981-1984, and Spring 2006. If you have spare copies of any of these and would care to donate them, we'd be happy to incorporate them (the latter ones of those we hold physically but lack spare copies to digitize; the earlier ones are currently lost to history). Also included are what Commencement Programs we have for Spokane, Vancouver, Tri-Cities, and Everett - where those are missing, the archives does not hold copies.  A few departmental programs are included; these are more or less random samplings.


Very recent (2008 to present) commencement programs, for WSU Pullman only, can also be found through the Commencement Ceremonies' website.


During its earliest years, WAC&SoS offered a "Preparatory School" for those "who are not sufficiently advanced to enter the Freshman class, and for those who are doing work in or preparing for the [other] special schools."  Effectively, this was equivalent to what is today considered high school, and graduates of the Preparatory School (later known as Elementary Science, or just Elementary) were not considered college graduates.  Other "special schools" in this era came and went, but in general most (though not all) "Schools," including the Schools of Business and of Farming / Agriculture, were also considered non-collegiate level work in the college's early days. It appears that these non-collegiate programs were phased out in 1917, with the last ceremony for them being held in 1919. For further information on these early programs, we suggest you consult the Course Catalogues (held in WSU's MASC as WSU 4, and in the main WSU Libraries at call number LD5731.W6 C65x) in those periods.

Searching the Database:

Entering search terms in the box located at the top of the page will search across the full text of all documents. To read through an individual item, select Browse This Collection and then click on the appropriate item. Search results are displayed as a series of thumbnail images that may be browsed. To view the larger image and its corresponding description, click on the thumbnail. An option to return to the home page for this collection is provided in the banner.


The majority of the materials in the collection fall into a few categories, so to make access easier here are a few links designed to access those directly:


Commencement Programs (Pullman college only)
Commencement Programs (non-Pullman campuses)
Speeches and Addresses


It should be noted that though the documents in this collection have been OCRed for full-text searching capabilities, due to the poor quality of much of the paper and printing, the age of the documents, and the frequently ornate or unusual print fonts, that searchability can be extremely unreliable, particularly in the earlier years.

Creating the Database:

University Archivist Mark O'English supervised the project, designed the metadata schemas, and created this page. Individual pages were scanned as 300 dpi pdf files on a variety of scanners by Rhonda Anderson; additional items were later added by WSU students Samantha Case and Kaitlyn Van Vleet. Cindy Ellis provided technical support for CONTENTdm. Jeff Kuure designed this page's banner.

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