SC&UA Reference Guide

Interested in accessing and using Special Collections & University Archives (SC&UA) materials? This guide provides starting points when conducting research in SC&UA, which contains hundreds of collections related to UNI's administration, faculty / staff, students, and campus, along with materials concerning the Cedar Valley and the state of Iowa. The following resources will assist in researching a variety of frequently asked questions and frequently requested subjects, including alumni information, photographs, broad UNI history, student organizations, yearbooks, newspapers, and more. This is not a comprehensive list, so be sure to reach out to us if you need assistance!

If you have additional questions or interests, we encourage you to explore our website and our ArchivesSpace database, or contact us at To browse materials in person, please make an appointment with us! Visit this link to view available times.

For additional information about using the SC&UA website and resources, see this tutorial. For additional information on navigating and using our archives collections and finding aid database (ArchivesSpace), visit this guide.

Archival Collections

SC&UA's archival materials are divided into two distinct categories: University Archives and Manuscripts.

University Archives

University Archives collections focus on materials from throughout UNI's history, dating from 1876 to the present. Collections are from offices, units, faculty and staff, student organizations, photographs, and more. The collections are organized in the following way:

Record Groups

University Archives materials are organized into record groups, which are groups of materials that were either created by or came from the same administrative office or unit on campus. The SC&UA record groups generally reflect the university's organizational structure as of the 2019-2020 academic year.

Example: If searching for collections related to the Office of the Registrar, navigate to RG 03 Academic Affairs, since the Registrar's Office is part of that administrative unit.

Finding aids

Finding aids are written guides for an archival collection. They usually include information about a collection's creator, dates, types of materials, content, and a box / folder inventory of the materials. Finding aids help identify which collections might be of use to you, and their inventories can be used to request specific boxes and folders. Each record group includes finding aids from the collections that fall within it. Most SC&UA collections have a finding aid available online. Please reach out if a collection you'd like to learn more about does not have a finding aid link - we're happy to help!


The Manuscripts collection contains records focused on various professional, cultural, civic, and political organizations and families in the Cedar Valley region, with an emphasis on Iowa politics. These collections are organized numerically by manuscripts collection (MsC) number. Like University Archives collections, most collections have a finding aid to help learn about the collection.

Books About UNI

A variety of books have been written about UNI's history and offer a starting point for research. The following are frequently used examples:

Fifty Years at the Teachers College by David Sands Wright (LD 2587 . W7)

  • This book was written by one of UNI's first faculty members and covers the years 1876 to 1926. Its content emphasizes the people who shaped UNI's early years.
  • Available in Special Collections, Stacks, and online.

The First 75 Years by Irving Harlow Hart (LD 2587 .H3)

  • Hart's book situates UNI within its Iowa educational background and focuses on the organizational development of the university through 1951.
  • Available in Special Collections, Stacks, and online.

A Century of Leadership and Service by William C. Lang & Daryl Pendergraft (LD2587 .L6 1990)

  • Lang and Pendergraft's two volume centennial history of UNI covers the years 1876 to 1976 and provides information about UNI's leadership, curriculum, student life, campus development, and more. Much of its source material came from Rod Library and, specifically, University Archives.
  • Available in Special Collections, Stacks, UNI Museum, and Reference.

Emeritus faculty member, Jim Kelly, has written about the history of UNI athletics and the history of specific sports on campus.

  • Hardwood Journey (GV691.U5748 H37)
  • From Tutors to Panthers: A Brief History of UNI Athletics (GV691.U5748 F76)
  • Gridiron - The Story of Panther Football (forthcoming)

Campus Publications

Various individuals, organizations, offices, etc. at UNI have created and disseminated publications over time. The publications are in a number of different formats, some of which are accessible online.

Many campus publications are indexed in Rod Library's online database, IndexUNI, which includes materials from 1876 to the present. Some of the indexed content is also available digitally, either through IndexUNI or the institutional repository, UNI ScholarWorks. Physical copies of these publications are also available for in-person use in the SC&UA reading room. Materials that are indexed but not digitized can be scanned upon request.

  • Student Newspapers

The following are the titles of the primary campus newspaper throughout its history: Students' Offering (1878-1884), Normal Eyte (1892-1911), College Eye (1911-1967), and Northern Iowan (1967-present). Additional newspapers and student magazines are also available for in-person use in SC&UA. Subject indexing for the UNI student newspapers in IndexUNI focuses on athletics, traditional events, campus news, events, student life, organizations, and administration, curriculum, and campus development. Some of these newspapers are digitized and already available online.

Information about these titles and others (including The Sentinel, The Northern Edition, and underground newspapers) can be found in record series 17/01/01.

The UNI Office of Public Relations has issued news releases since 1929, which focus on campus news, such as building dedications, conferences, campus events, scholarship awardees, and faculty accomplishments. Many are indexed in IndexUNI but have not yet been digitized.

  • Student Creative Work

UNI students have published collections of their creative work under various titles, some of which ran for an issue or two, while others were published over several years. Example titles include: Signature, Draftings In, and Seven. Information about these titles and more can be found in record series 17/01/03.

  • Yearbooks

The yearbooks include photographs and information about students, faculty and staff, clubs, athletics, campus events, and more. The yearbook was produced under three titles: The Normal Eyte (1906), The Pedagog (1906), and the Old Gold (1907-1969; 1979-1997). The UNI Quarterly was published from 1969-1972 as a yearbook replacement. For additional information, please visit record series 17/01/02 Annuals.

The yearbooks are also all available online.

  • Catalogs / Bulletins

The Catalogs & Bulletins provide information about curriculum, accreditation, academic rules, tuition and fees, campus, student services, and faculty, dating from 1976 to the present. For additional information, please visit record series 02/00/03.

Some catalogs are digitized and available online.

  • Athletics Media guides

The Athletics Media guides provide information about UNI's sports team. Older guides cover multiple sports according to fall, winter, and spring seasons, while more recent guides focus on only one sport. They usually include information about coaches, team members, the previous season's results, the upcoming season's prospects, and photographs. For additional information, please visit record series 18/01/07.

Many of these guides are available online.

  • Commencement programs

UNI's commencement programs, from its first commencement in 1878 to present, are available in SC&UA. Please visit the 02/00/05 record series for a complete listing of available programs.

Commencement programs are also accessible online.

  • The Alumnus / alumni newsletters

Alumni publications have been published since the early 20th century. They contain news and information about the university, alumni, and more. To see physical copies, visit the SC&UA reading room or request materials from record series 08/00/01.

Many newsletters are available online.

  • Alumni Directories

The Alumni Directory was published in four editions in 1986, 1991, 1996, and 2006. They contain a name index and a chronological list of all UNI graduates. Information for each individual generally includes the degree earned, graduation year, address, and occupation. The 1996 edition also has geographical and career indexes. See record series 08/03/04 for more information.

  • University Financial and Budget-Related Reports

UNI creates and publishes a variety of reports containing different financial and budgetary information. The following serve as good starting points:

  • The UNI Budget books contain details about the university's budget, such as departmental budgets and faculty, staff, and administrator salary information. SC&UA's budget books date from 1928 to the present and are accessible in the reading room.
  • The UNI Financial Report (LD 2584 I6F5 and record series 05/09/03) is a formal balance sheet showing revenues and expenditures, along with the costs and dates of construction for significant buildings on campus. It is usually published after the end of a fiscal year.
  • Iowa State Printing Board Salary Book: this publication lists salaries and expenses paid to all state employees. It can be accessed in SC&UA and the Stacks (HD8011.I8) and in MsC-102 (boxes 7-17).
  • The UNI Institutional Effectiveness & Planning (formerly called the Office of Institutional Research and the Office of Research and Effectiveness)

This office publishes a variety of reports about UNI and its students, including:

  • University of Northern Iowa Fact Book: this resource is a compilation of general information about UNI, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and budget / finance. These can be found in multiple record series in SC&UA: 03/06/03 (2002-2018) and 10/01/01 boxes 25 and 26 (1942-1981). A selection of digitized fact books are available online through UNI ScholarWorks and the Institutional Effectiveness and Planning website.
  • "Profile of Students Enrolled at the University of Northern Iowa": this report contains information about the student population, including but not limited to: gender, resident status, age, major, race / nationality, and major, along with sections about freshmen and transfer students. For more information, see record series 03/06/04 and call number LC205.5 I8P76.
  • UNI Graduating Student Survey: The survey measures student satisfaction with UNI activities, instruction, and services. See call number LD2587 B57 for location information. It can also be requested under record series 03/06/04, and select years are accessible online through UNI ScholarWorks.
  • Distribution of On-Campus Grades is a semi-annual report that breaks grades down by department, college, and class. For access information, please see LD2587 D57 or record series 03/06/04.

Photographs and Scrapbooks

Many SC&UA collections also include photographs and other visual materials. These types of materials can be found in the dedicated University Archives Photograph Collection as well as throughout various record groups and manuscripts collections.

  • Photograph Collection

The Photograph Collection contains a wide range of images primarily from UNI-related subject areas, though there are a handful of subjects related to non-campus activities.

  • Please note that other record groups within University Archives also contain some photographs; patrons are encouraged to explore additional finding aids when looking for images. For example, the Department of Theatre collections also include a large number of theatre photographs and the Photograph Collection also contains theatre-related images.
  • Other visual materials

Manuscripts collections and other University Archives collections contain scrapbooks, which include photos, ephemera such as dance cards and event programs, and other documents that depict various activities and experiences. In particular, many scrapbooks can be found in the Alumni Collections record group and in various Student Organization collections.

UNI Administration / Governance

The following collections provide information and insight into the university's governance, particularly through the Board of Regents records and the Office of the President collections.

These minutes record the deliberations and actions of UNI's governing body from the school's founding to the present. Subjects include budgeting, major personnel changes, tuition and fees, building and remodeling, admission requirements, curricular matters, and administrative policy changes.

A selection of online minutes can be found on the Board of Regents website.

  • Iowa State Board of Regents Budget Requests and Report for the Biennium

This Regents report to the governor provides an overview of each Regents institution's progress as well as statistics and projections relating to fiscal matters, capital projects, and enrollment. The report is available in the library stacks, call number L148 B17.

  • UNI policies & procedures manual

This manual codifies UNI's rules and regulations about matters including tenure, grievance procedures, plagiarism, and probation. Please see record series 02/06/01 for more information and access.

The collections housed within the Office of the President record group focus on that office's administrative functions, such as meeting minutes, policies, and more. It also contains records from every UNI president, from 1876 to the present.

UNI Theses, Specialist Papers, and Dissertations

All theses, specialist degree papers, and dissertations accepted by UNI are listed in OneSearch under author, title, and subject. More recent theses are available online in UNI ScholarWorks. Physical copies before 2020 are available in SC&UA, the main stacks, and the library microforms area. They are arranged alphabetically by author last name within the following Library of Congress classification call numbers:

  • Theses: LD 2585
  • Specialist Papers: LD 2585.1
  • D.I.T. Dissertations: LD 2585.2
  • Ed.D. Dissertations: LD 2585.3