American University’s role in the history of archival education is often forgotten. For over twenty-five years, American University co-hosted an Archives Institute along with the National Archives and Records Administration, the Library of Congress and the Maryland State Archives (formerly called the Maryland Hall of Records).
The first course was offered in the summer of 1945. Over the course of three weeks, students listened to lectures on archival theory and practice from archivists at the host institutions. They toured all three facilities and undertook a variety of projects including rehousing, compiling preliminary inventories, cataloging and appraisal.
Brochure for First Archives Institute
The Institute’s directors included Ernst Posner and T.R. Schellenberg, early leaders in the field of archival theory. American University’s Archivist, Helen Chatfield, was also on the roster of distinguished lecturers.
American University continues this tradition of summer programs today with offerings from the European Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute, the Nuclear Studies Institute, and the Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute in addition to internships and study-abroad courses.
American University’s campus has had four distinct growth periods 1920-1925, 1954-1969, 1985-1987, 2003-present.
Leading up to the opening of the College of Liberal Arts in 1925, AU built a women’s residence hall, library, gymnasium, power plant, and a home for the University President.
The next major construction period began in the mid-1950s and lasted through 1970. During this time the design and feel of AU’s campus was finalized with a central quad surrounded by academic buildings with dormitories and additional academic buildings on the perimeter.
Wooden boxes protect trees during construction of Ward Circle Building
During the 1980s, AU acquired its Tenley Campus and the property adjacent to its recreational center as well as building a new dormitory, Centennial Hall, and Bender Arena.
Demolition of Clendenen Gymnasium (1985)
Since the early 2000s, AU has been modernizing its campus with the construction of the Katzen Art Center, the new School of International Service, its first LEED certified building, and the re-purposing of the Tenley Campus for the Law School and the conversion of the Nebraska Avenue parking lot into much needed dormitory and academic space.
On a side note, a variety of temporary buildings were constructed during World War I and World War II by the War Department. Some of those buildings remained standing until the 2000s.