Butler Digital History

Butler Digital History

This site has been put together collaboratively by Butler University students, library faculty, and staff. These exhibits and collections feature digitized items from Butler University Library.

Home > Class Gifts Exhibit

Class Gifts Exhibit

One mild, typically warm August day, students walked about Butler University from building to building, seeking out air conditioning and shade. Everything about the campus seems new that time of year; new faces, new mulch in the flower beds, construction sounds from new buildings being erected. Even what was not new, seemed new, as most people had been away all summer and looked upon the familiar with fresh eyes. I sat on a bench outside of Atherton Union and saw students sitting in a gazebo reacting to a series of jokes one of them had told. Rose bushes bloomed in the new mulch surrounding the gazebo, and there was also a plaque I had never seen before. Even though they were probably wondering why some stranger was approaching the gazebo, I kneeled to look at what was written on the sign: “This Gazebo donated as a gift from the Class of 2008.” I walked away and the students went back to laughing, but I am sure that comedian had no idea who to thank for the stage that day.

That moment, that brief discovery, piqued an interest to learn more, so I set off on a Class Gift scavenger hunt across campus. Unburied treasures of sights and information suddenly revealed themselves to me after a little curiosity. The fountain in Holcomb Gardens pond is from the class of 1990, the Bulldog statue overlooking Hampton Drive comes courtesy of the Class of 1996, and Star Fountain in the heart of campus was a gift from the Class of 1945 following World War II.



These are just a few of the many gifts that can be found across our campus. Now, there is a whole digital exhibit of Class Gifts placed online thanks to the Irwin Library Butler Digital History Initiative. The Class Gifts have been marked on the map using the Neatline platform, which has many interactive features such as accurate geographical locations, year by year timeline, and photos accompanied with descriptions of each gift, for anyone interested in a scavenger hunt of their own.

The need for this digital exhibit is imperative now more than ever since the Class Gift initiative ended in 2014. Graduates will now have the option to donate to any aspect of campus they desire, instead of one single gift that represents the class as a whole. While this change is hoped to increase donation amounts, it means that future classes will not be providing something like a gazebo for the next Butler students.

As the campus grows and expands along with Butler’s prestige as a university, it is important to remember our beginnings as a community, which are sometimes fascinating and even humbling. Thanks to the technology available and generous funding, elaborate archival is made possible online, which both secures its place and makes the collections widely accessible. Though not all of the gifts have been found and digitally stored, a good number have been, ranging in dates as new as 2012 and as old as 1881, which is a great starting point for anyone interested in learning a bit about Butler’s past and its present.

- Jeff Stanich, Class of 2016