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Page from the first commencement program (1912) for the State Normal and Industrial School for Women with lyrics to the original school songs that reflect the founders’ attitudes about race, class, and gender.

This website provides resources related to the work of JMU’s History and Context Committee (2017-2019), as well as its successor, the Campus History Committee (Spring 2020-present). As part of a larger Task Force on Inclusion, the original body was charged by President Alger with examining this institution’s history as a segregated women’s school, sharing accurate information about that history with the public, and considering how the past influences our efforts to create an inclusive community in the present. That group’s final report from June 2019 recommended the establishment of the current Campus History Committee. The charges of the new committee, launched in Jan.-Feb. 2020, include mapping the campus’s commemorative landscape, making recommendations related to building names, and evaluating how the institution tells its own history. 

Many colleges and universities are acknowledging and examining critically their institutional ties to slavery, segregation, racism, and discrimination. On some campuses, activity has focused on removing monuments, statues, and buildings that today symbolize institutional complicity in historic systems of oppression. These efforts are connected to a broader movement for truth-telling campus history projects that emerged at places like Georgetown and William and Mary in the early 2000s. JMU’s campus history work builds on common practices associated with members of the Virginia-based Universities Studying Slavery consortium.

On this site, visitors will find a range of resources, often the result of student and faculty research, that intentionally present unfamiliar, untold, and unacknowledged aspects of this institution’s past. The Exhibits page, for example, showcases six digital JMU campus history projects by students enrolled HIST396: Introduction to Public History (Spring 2019). The Digital Resources page includes nine projects emphasizing campus or local Black history; these range from a set of African American oral interviews conducted by undergraduates in the 1970s to a Black Studies at JMU timeline from Spring 2020. Comments or questions may be sent to campushistory@jmu.edu. 

For more information about this website or the committee, contact:
Dr. Meg Mulrooney, Associate Vice Provost for University Programs and Professor of History