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Commencement. Collection, 1870-Ongoing

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSU Archives Collection 046

Scope and Contents

The Commencement Collection covers graduation ceremonies from the founding of the State Normal School to the present. This Collection is arranged chronologically. It is further arranged into five series: Graduation Programs, Graduation Banners, Audio Recordings, Commencement Videos and Miscellaneous.

Graduation Programs: This series covers all graduation ceremonies from 1870-present. Early commencements documentation are newspaper announcements, not programs. Some years include Baccalaureate service programs and documentation of plays and dramas that were held a few days prior to the commencement ceremony. The Programs are from the day of the commencements, and there are three copies of each program where available. Video footage of commencement ceremonies can be found in the Video Services collection.

Graduation Banners: Items in this series consist of banners that were carried during the commencement exercise by various colleges from 1970-Present.

Audio Recordings: This series consists of commencement speeches that were recorded onto cassette tapes and reel-to-reel tapes. The dated of this series range from 1967-1994.

Commencement Videos: This series contains the DVD copies of commencement, beginning in Fall, 2006. Prior Commencement Videos can be found in the Video Services Collection 110.

Miscellaneous: This series encompasses the other material related to commencement including a sample diploma and speeches given at commencement.


  • 1870-Ongoing


Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on use of this collection for research purposes. The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property and libel laws as they apply.

Biographical / Historical

Minnesota State University, Mankato began as the State Normal School in 1868. The first graduation ceremony took place on June 29, 1870. During the first ceremony only ten people graduated, eight men and two women. To compare how much the University haschanged over the years, the Fall 2004 graduating class was comprised of 1,617 students.

At Minnesota State Teachers College, during the mid-twentieth century, Graduation was more than just the commencement ceremony. The ceremonies usually began about one week before the actual commencement ceremony. In 1939 the Baccalaureate service began, which was a religious music service. Also, Minnesota State Teachers College had plays and dramas that were held a few days prior to the commencement ceremony. The plays and dramas ended in the 1960s.

Many influential people have spoken at graduation ceremonies over the years. In 1967 U.S. Vice-President Hubert H. Humphrey spoke at MSU for the Commencement ceremony. He also spoke at commencement in 1983 when he was Attorney General for Minnesota. Many Minnesota Governors spoke at MSU Commencement ceremonies as well. In 1962 Governor Elmer Anderson gave the Commencement speech, and in 1964 Governor Karl Rolvaag gave the Commencement speech. Minnesota politicians have also given the Commencement speech at MSU. In 1966 U. S. Senator Walter Mondale gave the Commencement speech.

The MSU Commencement website:


8.50 Cubic Feet (46.4 Archives boxes, 1 Hollinger box, 3 Oversized boxes, 1 Small box)

Language of Materials



The Commencement collection is a chronological sequence of graduation ceremonies which started in the 1870. This collection is comprised of graduation programs, newspaper articles, banners, and audio and video recordings.

Related Materials

It has been determined that there are similar collections. They are:

Video Services. Collection, 1985-ongoing. MSU Archives Collection 110, University Archives, Memorial Library, Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Commencement. Collection, 1870-Ongoing
This collection was processed by Brandon Rykhus in Spring 2007.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Minnesota State University, Mankato University Archives Repository

Minnesota State University, Mankato
Memorial Library
PO Box 8419
Mankato MN 56002-8419 US