People can look at photographs, yearbooks, college bulletins and other documents related to the former Brigham Young College in Logan thanks to the work of Utah State University Special Collections and Archives.
Darcy Pumphrey, digital library coordinator for the Merrill-Cazier Library, and a team of specialists at USU got together to digitize Special Collections and Archives’ 11,000 images related to BYC — a school founded in August of 1877 that taught high school and college courses before it eventually closed in 1926.
The land where BYC used to be now houses Logan High School.
In an interview, Pumphrey noted that a thesis was written about BYC in the early 1970s, but other than that, the school has mostly been “an untold story.”
“It needed to be updated in a way that people could access it,” she said. “There’s still a lot of people who hold that school dear to their heart. (They) know their family went there but maybe they don’t know the campus itself and the story.”
With the help of grant money from the Utah State Historical Records Advisory Board, Pumphrey and her team were able to digitize the collection of images over a period of two years.
The digital collection of images includes a comprehensive exhibit of photos and artist renderings of campus; pages upon pages from the “Crimson Yearbooks,” commencement programs and student publications — including an “April Fools’ Day” edition of a campus bulletin.
“While I was studying Brigham Young College, to think about the institutions in our lives that we hold dear,” Pumphrey said. “What if all of a sudden one day we were told it would no longer exist? There’s an emotional reaction. I was very curious what was it like for those students and community members who rallied around the school, believed in the school, when it was taken away from them.”
Todd Welch, associate dean for Special Collections and Archives, praised Pumphrey and her team for their work. The project team included six people; an additional 16 people were responsible for scanning, uploading and adding metadata to the images.
Welch talked about the importance of USU Special Collections and Archives having a collection of items from BYC.
“I think any place needs to understand (that) its past and what it is today is the culmination of those people, those events, those organizations and institutions that came before it,” he said. “I think this collection does just that — it does bring an understanding of an important institution that did impact the community and did result in the kind of things that came about later on.”
Welch said Pumphrey’s and others’ work to make this digitized collection possible will allow many more people to access the documents and learn about BYC than they otherwise would.
“They use technology … to build awareness, build discovery and the retrieval of these things for the general public — most of which aren’t going to come to Special Collections and Archives in a reading room Monday through Friday,” Welch said. “Now they can look at this stuff and appreciate it in, hopefully, a great, entertaining presentation any day of the week.”