Educational Catalogs

These days, course catalogs are found online. Not as a unit, of course. The modern course catalog is a collection of webpages that hold the same information collectively that was once printed and bound as a single volume. There are likely two important reasons for this – the university is huge and the internet is cheap and easily accessible.

So accessible that the Special Collections Research Center digitized most of NCSU’s course catalogs and made them available through our Rare and Unique Digital Collections website. The most frequent request is for course descriptions to use in applications for graduate school, law school, and patents.

But if you look at earlier course catalogs, the information included far exceeds course descriptions and a campus map:

The 1962-64 State College Record includes information about college extension classes, including correspondence courses, evening courses, short courses and conferences – all of which allowed non-degree seeking students to take classes at the university level.

These course catalogs not only provide basic information about classes and campus, but they are also a reflection of national trends in the microcosm of a college campus. The catalog from the 1920s can list all of the enrolled students because the university was fairly small and did not have a large enrollment. The information for veterans in the 1940s catalog provides for a booming student population, consisting in large part of veterans in the aftermath of WWII and the accessibility of college through the GI Bill. Financial aid in the 1970s is suggested as tuition begins to balloon and students are no longer exclusively from families who can afford to pay tuition outright.

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