Introduction: 125 Years of Bradley History in Objects

A message from the Head of Special Collections:

In Special Collections, we preserve the history of Bradley University as well as Peoria and its surrounding communities. We build collections to support the university’s wide-ranging curricula. And we assist researchers on campus and around the world. Please consider visiting.

125 Years of Bradley History in Objects...

...highlights the history of Bradley over the last 125 years as told through a sampling of objects in our collections. The artifacts selected by no means represent the “top moments in Bradley history” nor can they be strung together to tell a complete story. We have a lot of stuff but our collections are not complete. Some things are inevitably lost over time before they can be donated. And donors shape the collections through their interests. We are constantly working to build more diverse and inclusive collections. Contact us to add a physical item to our collection. You are invited to share a story or image. Please consider donating.

This exhibit is the work of many, many hours by staff, students, and faculty. It is imperfect and dynamic. Items selected and their stories cannot help but reflect our individual interests and voices. The exhibit encourages you to add your comments and suggestions to help shape this ongoing project. Please consider volunteering

As a historian, I would be remiss if I did not add a curatorial note about Native imagery and cultural appropriation. Items in this exhibit contain some content that may be harmful or difficult to view. They are part of this institution's past and do not reflect Bradley University’s current mission or its inclusive standard of excellence. Indigenous names, images, and stories are everywhere in North American history—perhaps no more so than in the arena of sports. In the late 1980s, Bradley University abandoned its Native American mascot but its earlier history of cultural appropriation is everywhere in the archival record, from photographs to promotional literature, from Bradley buttons to Braves uniforms. In building the exhibit, we understood this challenge from the beginning and have made efforts to mitigate the harmful impact these materials might cause without whitewashing the past. Please keep in mind the professional obligation of archivists and librarians to balance the goals of preserving and providing access to historic materials with sensitivity and accuracy in how they are presented and described. We welcome your comments as we continue to seek the right balance. We also hope this exhibit contributes to ongoing conversations about the differences between our past and our future.

Libby Tronnes, Ph.D. Assistant Professor and Head of Special Collections


Primary credit for the original inspiration and the continuous effort required to collect, photograph, upload, describe, and edit the artifacts in the exhibit belongs to Linda Aylward, Elizabeth Bloodworth, Glynis Plym, Ching Zedric, Elijah Furuness. Additional credit belongs to our wonderful student workers and faculty volunteer: Anastasia Doeing, Robert Greiner, Krzysztof Ponicki, Abigayle Spear, and Brad Brown. The following people offered feedback: Xiaotian Chen, Adam Byerly, Megan Jaskowiak, Michelle Nielsen Ott, Christine Norton, Jennifer Stubbs, and Angela Weck. Finally, a special note of appreciation. Christoph Coulter donated his time, enthusiasm, and expertise to help the Special Collections team understand and appreciate proper and necessary digital preservation methods and techniques. Christoph left this world during the COVID-19 pandemic. You will see compressed JPEG images in this exhibit but our digital archive contains high-resolution, uncompressed files. Christoph wouldn't have it any other way.