Doane University has a rather extensive collection of archival materials housed within Perkins Library. College founders and early administrators were diligent in their preservation of important documents, photographs, and even some artifacts.
Doane and the city of Crete literally grew up together. The town was incorporated in 1871 and the college was incorporated in 1872. Thomas Doane and his group of cultivated New England Congregationalists joined Crete's early settlers, and together the town and college founders worked to ensure that economic and social advantages came to the city. Several documents in the archival collection related to Doane personalities also touch on Crete history since many of the community leaders were involved in both town and gown.
For more than 100 years important Doane University records have been stored in the business office and library. Miraculously most of these documents were not housed in Merrill Hall at the time of the 1969 fire.
Over the years, Doane librarians and business managers have assured that the college records were well-taken care of, even when the collections were not housed in a central location. In 1976 library director Peggy Brooks Smith took the charge a step further when she created an archival practicum course to give students the opportunity to work directly with the historical collections.
In 1979 a formal written archival policy was put in place, and space in Perkins Library was allocated for archival storage. Smith led the project with the help of Anne P. Diffendahl, then Nebraska State Archivist, who assisted in all aspects of organization, including the establishment of a record group catalog. At the present time there is not a digitized index itemizing available archival holdings, however that is a long-term goal.
The archival practicum program continues to grow. Students interested in archival, museum, and historic preservation careers take the semester-long course to get hands-on experience working with documents and artifacts. Current projects involve organizing collections and digitizing photos.
Inquiries about the Doane University archives should be directed to the Library, 402.826.8287 or firstname.lastname@example.org. It is best to make an appointment to do research as the collections are not always readily available, and staff may not be able to properly attend to drop-in patrons.