Brian S. Shull and Natalie Clark Fisher with Professor J. Gordon Daines III, University Archives
The journey Brian and I started in February later became something neither one of us had expected. When we first wrote the proposal for this project, we assumed we would have no trouble finding sources to complete our research. The opposite was true; finding sources dealing with student life from 1985-2000 was very difficult.
Our plan was to research the changes and development of student on-campus activities and make a bibliographical list of sources which also showed these changes and developments. To start, we made a list of possible research topics, including: devotionals and forums, dances, fine arts performances, lectures, sporting events, and other BYUSA activities. Instead of finding sources dealing with these topics, we discovered a large gap in Brigham Young University’s written history. So far, no one has written a comprehensive history of on-campus student activities during that time period.
We found some sources such as devotional and forum recordings, Final Cut video recordings, and speech transcripts. Recordings and transcripts are useful to find out exactly on which topics speakers spoke, but not necessarily reasons why speakers chose certain topics or student reactions to them. The fact is, we know that some students attended and still do attend devotionals and forums, but without extensive primary research and interviews, we cannot know how many students actually made devotional attendance a part of their lives. Without synthesizing extensive primary research on these topics, we can only know which activities the university provided for its students, not if these on-campus activities were really an integral part of students’ lives. The next step to our research would be to find sources that will help us assess some of these attitudes and behaviors. The Daily Universe is one such source, providing articles and letters to the editor that contain useful information and pieces to this puzzle.
Because we couldn’t find many sources dealing with on-campus student activities, we chose to include sources that discussed any aspect of student life, on or off campus. Many of the sources in the bibliography are student papers donated to the folklore archives. These papers deal with topics such as apartment decorating habits, bad date stories, reasons for coed jokes, and good luck charms. We also included those university archive and manuscript materials we thought would be useful for research.
What Brian and I thought would be a simple compilation of sources became a deeper search on a broader topic. Even though this project turned out differently than first planned, we hope it will still be a valuable source for anyone who wants to research or write on this topic. We also hope that some day, a very ambitious person will decide to fill this gap in BYU written history and find our final project as a useful source in completing that task