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Drexel Archives

Historical photographs and other interesting documents from the Archives' collections, as well as information about the Archives.

Track and Field Records now available

Here's a guest post from Archives intern Carolyn Halper:


The Drexel University Track and Cross-Country records have been processed and are now ready for research use.

This collection holds Drexel's Track and Field photos, newspaper clippings, and administrative records dating from 1946 to 1994. The collection includes a number of event results and rosters, sports memos, and track meet programs, including those from the ECC and IC4A.

University Archives closed on Friday, July 15

The Archives will be closed to researchers on Friday, July 15.  We'll return all your calls and email on Monday morning. Have a great weekend!

Congratulations Graduates

Drexel’s two-day commencement begins today. In honor of all the graduates, the Archives presents a new online exhibition, The History of Drexel Commencement. Created by Andrew Beck, an iSchool student and Archives volunteer, the exhibition presents materials from the Archives’ collections that document the ceremony, speakers and locations of this rite of passage.

A Taste of Things to Come: Computing at Drexel, 1946-1984

To mark the opening of the Archives' newest exhibition, "Access for Everyone: Computing at Drexel, 1946 - 1984," Archives volunteer Martha Cornog explores one dimension of that history.

A Taste of Things to Come: Computing at Drexel, 1946-1984

By Martha Cornog

In 1983, Drexel made national headlines by requiring all students and faculty to have personal computers, the first major academic body to do so. Even the fashion-design majors in the Nesbitt College had to go tech, an increasingly accepted thing at the upper levels of that industry. “It’s really incredible how patternmakers have terminals right next to their sewing machines,” commented Bernard Sagik, Drexel’s Vice President of Academic Affairs, after visiting Christian Dior studios in New York.1

Archives exhibition opening reception today!

Archives exhibition opening reception today

Wednesday, May 11 • 4:00pm - 6:00pm

Please join us for a reception to celebrate the opening of our newest exhibition, "Access for Everyone: Computing at Drexel, 1946 – 1984" today, Wednesday, May 11th from 4 to 6 PM in W. W. Hagerty Library. The reception includes refreshments and a live demo of vintage computers, co-sponsored by TechServ.

Drexel University made history with its Microcomputer Project in 1984, which required all incoming freshman to purchase a personal computer.

Save the date: May 11 exhibition opening reception

Please join us for a reception to celebrate the opening of our newest exhibition, "Access for Everyone: Computing at Drexel, 1946 – 1984" on Wednesday, May 11th from 4 to 6 PM in W. W. Hagerty Library. The reception is free and open to the public and includes refreshments and a live demo of vintage computers, co-sponsored by TechServ.

Drexel University made history with its Microcomputer Project in 1984, which required all incoming freshman to purchase a personal computer.

Kenneth Matheson

This essay is the fourth and final in a series about Drexel's presidents, marking the inauguration of John A. Fry.

Kenneth Matheson

By Bill Paterson
Dr. Kenneth G. Matheson became the third present of the Drexel Institute in 1921.  Thirty years old, Drexel faced problems ranging from lowered enrollment and a related drop in income; a lack of cohesion amongst the faculty and alumni communities; and the great need for updated equipment and facilities. Dr. Matheson took these challenges seriously, establishing and beginning to execute a plan of improvement even before officially taking office. To cure these ills Dr. Matheson reorganized Drexel’s faculty and administrative structure, gave faculty an active voice in administration and reached out to students and alumni. An ardent supporter of the young cooperative education program, Dr. Matheson greatly expanded Drexel’s network of employers in the program to more than eight hundred. It was under Dr. Matheson’s hand that the engineering program was accredited, and became a five year program. Pushing himself until the end, in 1931 Dr. Matheson died of a heart attack, having postponed the health leave the Board of Trustees had voted for him, and leaving a greatly improved, far more solvent Drexel with a significantly expanded campus.

Parke R. Kolbe and the Fascination of Unattainable Goals

This essay is the third in a series about Drexel's presidents, marking the inauguration of John A. Fry.

Parke R. Kolbe and the Fascination of Unattainable Goals

By Martha Cornog

“Anyone with knowledge of another language….,” suggested Parke Kolbe, “may share the joy of creative genius vicariously by indulging in translation. He may not produce a literary masterpiece even at second-hand, but he will at least know and appreciate more adequately the work of the truly great.”

Drexel’s fourth President thought it was fun to translate foreign literature in his spare time. Originally a Professor of Modern Languages and trained as a linguist, Kolbe further broadened the collective background of the Drexel presidency. First president James MacAlister had been distinguished in Education, his successor Hollis Godfrey in Engineering, and Godfrey’s successor Kenneth Matheson in English.

Hollis Godfrey and Drexel's Design

This essay is the second in a series about Drexel presidents

Hollis Godfrey and Drexel's Design

By Martha Cornog

Although he authored a science fiction novel titled The Man Who Ended War, Hollis Godfrey did not inspire peace after taking over as the second president of the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry. While the expertise of predecessor James McAlister came through experience with administering secondary school systems, Godfrey’s background was all very much higher education: two doctoral degrees in science and engineering, two in law, and a position on the faculty of MIT. MacAlister’s legacy, a collective of self-run departments granting no degrees, struck Godfrey as likely to hold Drexel back from its full potential. The Drexel name should become positioned as a respected source of technical education as the new century unfolded, and as an institution to be reckoned with.1

Accordingly, Godfrey set immediately to reorganize the departments and faculty, and to push for degree-granting status. Of the original eighteen departments, he trimmed them down to eight departments within three schools: the School of Engineering, the School of Domestic Science and Arts, and the Secretarial School. This last later became the School of Business Administration. However, the Library School and the Architectural Department ended up on the cutting room floor. Simultaneously, Godfrey began pushing the faculty towards getting additional training, funding their coursework at nearby universities and bringing in guest speakers.

James MacAlister and Drexel’s Beginnings

Perhaps surprising to us today, the newly-birthed Drexel Institute gave no collegial degrees. In setting up the original organization, James MacAlister envisioned something in the spirit of vocational guilds.1 Founder Anthony J. Drexel together with collaborators George W. Childs and Drexel’s wife Ellen Rozet Drexel had intended a vocational emphasis,2 but they themselves were not educators. So it was MacAlister who pulled together overall structure, departments, and faculty. And through MacAlister, who had emigrated from Scotland at age 10 and had run the public school systems in Milwaukee and Philadelphia, the original “Drexel Institute” concept took shape: advanced vocational training, somewhere between high school and any later higher education.

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