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First-Year Studies Collection

Identifier: LU-RG04-029
The collection consists of materials documenting the history and development of First-Year Studies (formerly Freshman Studies) a required course for first-year students at Lawrence introduced by President Nathan Pusey in the fall of 1945. Correspondence, schedules and reading lists, committee and grant documentation, and other curricular materials make up the bulk of the collection. Documentation on variations of the first-year core program offered during the 1970s is also included.


  • 1945-2018


Conditions Governing Access

General University Records not widely distributed are closed 20 years from records creation. The rest of the collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Lawrence University does not hold the copyright for all materials in this collection. Uses beyond those allowed for fair use under U. S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) require the researcher to secure permission from the copyright holder.


1.45 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

2 Megabytes

Biographical or Historical Information

The Freshman Studies program was first introduced in 1945 by President Nathan Pusey. Inspired by a similar program he had helped create at Wesleyan University, Pusey envisioned a course that would awaken beginning students’ intellectual curiosity with reading, writing, and discussion in the liberal arts. The course was initially taught as a two-semester course, with groups of fifteen or fewer students in each class and a shift in instructors each semester. Works studied most often in the program’s first ten years included works by Plato, Shakespeare, Marx and Engels, and Darwin, as well as works of art, music, and film. The course was initially popular among both students and faculty, though some faculty held concerns about the additional teaching load. A shift in educational priorities in the 1960s further strained existing tensions between the general education nature of the course and faculty specializations. In 1969, one term of Freshman Studies was replaced with disciplinary “Topics of Inquiry.” The program was restructured several times during subsequent years until it was essentially abandoned in 1975. After a few years of replacement freshman core programs, many faculty began to feel that these programs had failed to produce desired results in improving student writing and other objectives. One term of the traditional Freshman Studies program was reinstated in 1978, with additional support from a newly appointed director of the program, J. Michael Hittle. In response to growing sentiment in favor of returning to the original program, the faculty voted to reinstate the two-term program in 1986. Since that time, the program has maintained its two-term structure. The course has also largely maintained its focus on encouraging intellectual curiosity in the liberal arts, though building skills in critical thinking and writing remain additional objectives. The name of the course was changed from Freshman Studies to First-Year Studies in 2020.

Arrangement Note

This collection is arranged alphabetically by subject/format of materials.

Method of Acquisition

Bulk of materials acquired prior to 2005. The source, date, and method of acquisition are unknown.

Accruals and Additions

Materials on First-Year Studies will continue to be collected and added to this collection by the University Archivist.

Processing Information

Preliminary processing completed prior to 2005. Further processing and finding aid completed by Erin Dix, 2011.


Archon Finding Aid Title
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2015-03-09: Curricular materials created/collected by Peter Fritzell removed from the collection to be cataloged and housed with other Peter Fritzell Papers
  • 2024-05-03: Revised to incorporate materials donated by Tim Sprugin 2024-05-03 (Faculty Manual 1990, Faculty Handbook 2020 & Historic Materials 1986-1987).

Repository Details

Part of the Lawrence University Archives Repository

Seeley G. Mudd Library
113 South Lawe Street
Appleton WI 54911 US
(920) 832-6753