Ball State University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections, in collaboration with the Multicultural Center, recently debuted a new, freely-accessible, online, digital exhibit entitled The Ball State University Multicultural Center: Ambassadors of Campus Inclusion and Diversity. Drawing heavily from primary sources from the University Archives and alumni collections, the exhibit provides a detailed, reflective, and compelling story of the Multicultural Center’s extraordinary and visionary history.
The byproduct of many months of research, writing, and design by Archives and Special Collections staff, the exhibit traces the Center’s history to the late 1960s. During this period of vast social and cultural change in our community and in the United States, the University recognized the need for campus resources to support students from minority communities. As readers explore the exhibit, they will learn of the key people, resources, programs, events, decisions, ideas, and initiatives that shaped the Multicultural Center’s sustained success.
Allen Williams (‘73), past President of the Ball State University Alumni Association, and current member of the Black Alumni Constituent Society said, “I was especially pleased that the exhibit references the challenges and petitions of Black students during the late 1960s and early 1970s who sought to bring about change, growth and development within the university. Such information is important to all and must be viewed and accepted in the context of being critical events in the history of the university. The doors of inclusion and diversity were opened years ago, now there is opportunity for them to swing wider than ever.”
The creation of the exhibit coincides with the opening of the University’s new Multicultural Center facility, a 9,500 square-foot space at the heart of the Ball State campus that provides ample, modern amenities to house student-centered activities and cultural programs.
“With the opening of a new Multicultural Center, it is important that we recognize and understand the historical context as well as the efforts of students, faculty, staff, and alumni who were instrumental in its creation,” explained Bobby Steele, Director of the Multicultural Center, commenting on the exhibit’s significance. “This knowledge helps shapes our understanding of the challenges, progress, and the necessary continued efforts for diversity and inclusion.”
The online exhibit includes only a small sampling of the vast collection of openly-accessible archival records available in Bracken Library that document the history of the Multicultural Center. Archives and Special Collections provides access to many collections that represent this history, including the Robert O. Foster papers, Multicultural Center records, and the Ball State Daily News archive.
“What the BSU Bracken Library Archives and Special Collections Staff has created through this exhibit is outstanding,” Allen Williams said. “The exhibit is multifaceted and qualitative in presentation. It is excellent in the information and data content provided. They were purposeful and effective in highlighting the key contributors, spotlighting major events, clarifying program goals and objectives, and most importantly showcasing student participation.”
Mindy Shull, Archives Records Analyst in Archives and Special Collections, who collaborated in developing and creating the exhibit said, “Working on this digital exhibit was both a challenging and rewarding experience. I am so grateful to have a more comprehensive view of this important piece of campus history; it will be invaluable to my work with the University Archives. In telling this story, my hope is that this exhibit will inspire more people to use the archival resources here at Ball State to build on this research.”
Archives and Special Collections collaborated closely with Bobby Steele in his role as Director of the Multicultural Center to provide a window into the vast history of the Center’s role on campus. “This new online exhibit platform has provided an opportunity to highlight the historical significance of material in the University Archives, along with building collaborative relationships with campus partners, like the Multicultural Center” added Sarah Allison, Head of Archives User Engagement.
Additional project contributors from Archives and Special Collections include Becky Marangelli (Archives Specialist), Mackenzie Stahl (Graduate Assistant), and Claire Enk (Public History Intern).
For more information about the exhibit, contact Ball State University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections at email@example.com.