Commencement collection,1843-Present

Descriptive Summary

Commencement collection,1843-Present
Georgetown College
2 Document Case Boxes
Finding Aid Author
Josh Juckett and Glen Taul
Georgetown College

Collection Overview

Biography / History
Most institutions of higher learning hold a commencement ceremony to award degrees. The term commencement was literally used to describe the transition from being a student to a teacher. The word is now used to describe the ceremony in which students are awarded degrees for completing coursework at a college or university. The first commencement took place at Georgetown College in 1842. Like many other institutions, Georgetown has a variety of unique traditions embedded in their commencement activities. This collection of commencement documents follow the various changes which have occurred throughout the history of commencement ceremonies at Georgetown College.

Contents of the Collection

Series I: Programs 1843-Present

This subseries contains the documents specifically related to the secular commencement ceremony. The conferring of the degrees by the president has always been part of this ceremony, but other roles have differed. In the earliest commencements graduates demonstrated their newly acquired skills with orations, which were interspersed with music. The president would often speak also and then present the students with diplomas. The program typically concluded with a benediction and music. In the early 20th century the program changed to include an invited commencement speaker and fewer student exhibitions. The modern day format for commencement programs includes addresses from a guest speaker and a senior class member. The President of the college still presides over the ceremony.

Programs, 1843-1872

  • Box 1, folder 1
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Programs, 1874-1882

  • Box 1, folder 2
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Programs, 1883-1903

  • Box 1, folder 3
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Programs, 1905-1920

  • Box 1, folder 4
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Programs, 1921-1936

  • Box 1, folder 5
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Programs, 1942-1952

  • Box 1, folder 6
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Programs, 1953-1962

  • Box 1, folder 7
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Programs, 1963-1973

  • Box 1, folder 8
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Programs, 1974-1983

  • Box 1, folder 9
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Programs, 1984-1988

  • Box 1, folder 10
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Programs, 1989-1994

  • Box 1, folder 11
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Programs, 1995-2000

  • Box 1, folder 12
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Programs, 2001-2004

  • Box 1, folder 13
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Programs, 2005-Present

  • Box 1, folder 14
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Series II: Baccalaureate Programs 1910-Present

The programs in this subseries document the religious ceremony which precedes the secular degree ceremony. Separate Baccalaureate programs can be traced back to 1874, when President Basil Manly separated the worship portion of commencement from the presentation of degrees. These documents display the program activities, which follow a typical church service program of music and a sermon along with prayer throughout the program. The Baccalaureate service was at first held four days prior to commencement, but has since moved up to the night before commencement.

Baccalaureate, 1910-1957

  • Box 2, folder 15
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Baccalaureate, 1982-1991

  • Box 2, folder 16
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Baccalaureate, 1992-2000

  • Box 2, folder 17
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Baccalaureate, 2002-Present

  • Box 2, folder 18
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Series III: Graduate Programs 1990-Present

This subseries contains documents about Graduate Commencement ceremonies. Prior to 1990 graduate degrees were awarded in the Spring Commencement ceremony, when undergraduates received their degrees. When the ceremonies became too lengthy, the graduate education program began awarding its degrees at the end of the summer. Documents are complete from 1990-2007. They contain information about graduates, including hometown and field of study.

Graduate Programs, 1990-1995

  • Box 2, folder 19
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Graduate Programs, 1996-Present

  • Box 2, folder 20
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Series IV: Summer School Programs 1928-1970

Summer commencements were for students who completed their degrees during summer school. Bachelor degrees were awarded. Georgetown College offered summer school commencements starting in 1927 and discontinued them after the 1971 exercises. Every year is not represented.

Summer School Programs, 1928-1967

  • Box 2, folder 21
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Series V: Calendars 1890-2005

These documents contain schedules of events and activities during the week of commencement. Georgetown College began holding commencement festivities on multiple days as early as 1868 with commencement week, which began on the second Thursday in June. The earliest calendars found in Georgetown College catalogues indicate various addresses which occurred in the week leading up to commencement. Typically more recent documents contain daily schedules of meals, speakers, and events which both students and visitors can attend. Calendars are available from 1890-2005, but large gaps exist. A related event, the Senior Class Banquet, has been held for many years, which features a Charge given by a faculty member selected by the senior class. This subseries includes programs of those events.

Events and Calendars, 1899-2005

  • Box 2, folder 22
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Senior Class Banquet Programs, 2008-

  • Box 2, folder 22A
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Series VI: Addresses 1958-2008

These are records of commencement addresses given by guest speakers and by Class Seniors. Few manuscripts exist.

Commencement Addresses, 1958-2008

  • Box 2, folder 23
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Senior Addresses, 2008-

  • Box 2, folder 23A
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Series VII: Invitations 1887-2008

The invitations relate information concerning the date of commencement and commencement-related events. Some feature daily planners with all of the events prior to commencement included. Others just have the date of the commencement ceremony. Large gaps exist in each folder.

Invitations, 1887-1912

  • Box 2, folder 24
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Invitations, 1915-1922

  • Box 2, folder 25
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Invitations, 1923-1926

  • Box 2, folder 26
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Invitations, 1927-2008

  • Box 2, folder 27
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