FPU history available at the click of a mouse

DigitalFPU is online tool offering resources formerly tucked away in archival vault

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FPU's Alumni Hall, 1964 Published in Pacific College Messenger, Nov. 1964

In the early 1960s, Pacific College established a historical library and archives as part of Hiebert Library. Since that time, it has gathered an impressive collection of historical documents, images, recordings and artifacts for both the Mennonite Brethren Church and Fresno Pacific University.

Unfortunately, getting access to those archival resources hasn’t always been easy. Researchers were required to travel to Fresno and visit the archives during its weekday hours. Archival research was often difficult and time-consuming.

Things have gotten much easier in recent years as large-scale digitization of records has become more feasible. Not only has the technology for creating digital documents improved but so has the capacity to make those resources available online.

One such tool, known as DigitalFPU, has dramatically increased public access to resources documenting the history of FPU. Available at http://digitalfpu.fresno.edu, this online platform has made available many resources that were formerly only tucked away in the archival vault.

What can be found in DigitalFPU?

  • Over 27,000 historic photographs of Fresno Pacific University (and its predecessors) and Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, all searchable by name and subject
  • Full-text searchable issues of Pacific magazine, 1944-present
  • Full-text searchable issues of all student newspapers, 1946-2020
  • Full-text searchable copies of all student yearbooks, 1946-2009
  • Digital images from the Hiebert Library art collection
  • Photographs and documents from various Mennonite archival collections

The main DigitalFPU page includes links to each of these resources. Click on a link to a search page for a particular resource. Searching can be done by personal name, buildings, sports, performing arts groups and almost any other imaginable topic. For publications, it’s also possible to simply browse issues by year or decade without doing a search.

Be careful, Hiebert Library Director Kevin Enns-Rempel warns. “Once you start looking around in DigitalFPU, you may have a difficult time stopping yourself. The memories contained there are almost limitless,” he says.

Archival staff have included descriptions and keywords to the best of their ability, but they know only so much. If anyone is able to identify people or events in photos that they missed, please email Archivist Hannah Keeney at hannah.keeney@fresno.edu. She will make sure that the information is updated.

Archival staff have begun adding selected audio recordings of College Hour events and will consider adding other resources to DigitalFPU in the future.

The digitization process has been greatly enhanced by the purchase of a large-format scanner, which allows scanning of documents up to 25”x36.” Funds for this device were made available through an endowment established by Ann Wiebe, daughter of former Pacific College president Arthur J. Wiebe and Evelyn Wiebe.

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