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The new Documentary Film program at WFU has proved to be a natural match for our archival collections. Students from Dr. Cara Pilson’s graduate research seminar and first year seminar have frequented Special Collections for instruction and research this semester.

The FYS: History Through the Lens of Documentary Film students, pictured above, are working on a short documentary film on the WFU class of 1964.


Using archival copies of the Old Gold and Black, The Howler, photographs, and other materials from the University Archives, the students researched issues of importance to their counterparts in the early 1960s.


They then selected visual materials to put on film for their documentary project. The students were fascinated by both the similarities and differences between campus life now and that of fifty years ago. My favorite quote from a 2010 student (upon reading an OGB editorial): “I can’t believe how sarcastic they were back then!”

Working with the documentary film students this semester was a great experience for the Special Collections staff as well. Every class teaches us something new about our stuff! Seeing our materials from the perspective of documentary filmmakers is making us think about how we can improve discovery tools for the visual aspects of our collections. We look forward to many more collaborations with our new Documentary Film students.