The records of the Communication Studies Department contain materials from its predecessors, the Communication Department (1967-1972) and the Speech Department (1952-1967), as well as some early records from the Forensic Union, a student organization founded in 1927. Consisting of three accessions, as reported on the title page, the third accession followed the suspension of the Department in academic year 1986. The material transferred is an incomplete record of this once well known Oberlin academic program.
The Record Group is arranged into two Subgroups: I. Administrative Files of the Department, 1929-1985 (6.25 l.f.); II. Faculty Records, 1950-1985 (1.8 l.f.). The first two Subgroups are further arranged into Records Series.
Subgroup I. Administrative Files consists of 21 Series as follows: I. Annual Reports; II. Budgets; III. Committees (Internal); IV. Correspondence Files (Speech Department); V. Course Evaluations by Students; VI. Curricula Files (by Course Number); VII. Curricula Proposals; VIII. Equipment Inventories; IX. Evaluation and Program Review; X. Forensic Union; XI. Guide to Majors; XII. Letters from and Memoranda; XIII. Letters of Recommendation; XIV. Lists of Department Majors; XV. Miscellaneous Department Files; XVI. Miscellaneous Program Files; XVII. Newsletters of the Department; XVIII. Reports Files; XIX. Speech Clinic; XX. Surveys and Questionnaires; and XXI. Forensic Union Cups and Plaques.
Subgroup II. Faculty Records consists of five Series: I. Judith Beinstein Miller; II. Daniel Joseph Goulding; III. Christian Koch; IV. Wallace Dean Wolfe; and V. Other Faculty Records.
The first two records series offer only partial documentation on the business of the Communication and Communication Studies Department. No annual reports or financial records exist for the Speech Department. Further, the Department's extracurricular programs are unevenly covered in the annual reports. Of particular importance, is Series IX., the Evaluation and Program Review records which provides users with a clearer picture of the history of the Department and its programs over time.
The internal Committee files are primarily report on the Department's Faculty and Majors Committee. They are fairly complete for the years 1974 through 1984. Included in these records are adgendas and minutes of meetings, correspondence with student representatives to the Committee, and numerous handwritten notes from the Department Chairs. (Over the same decade, the period spans the chairpersonships of Dean Wolfe, Christian Koch and Judith Beinstein Miller.) Course Evaluations by students can be found in quantity for the years 1974, 1975, and 1976; but this record does not exist for all of the Department's courses. Three other years, 1978, 1979 and 1982, have very sparse records.
The largest records series within this Subgroup is the record of the 55 courses consisting of 182 files offered by the Department. Most, but not all, courses are represented by a course syllabus, a reading list, handouts, assignment sheets, study guides and examination questions. Only a few sets include photocopied texts of assigned readings. In some cases, course numbers were assigned to different classes over the years. Through this pattern it is possible to see the evolution of certain courses as new research became available or teaching priorities changed.
Two records series, VII, Curricula Proposals and VIII, Equipment Inventories, provide some insight into the development of the program over time. The Department expansion plans preceded its transformation first from the Department of Speech to the Department of Communication, and later into Communication Studies. The records offer a view of an energetic and optimistic faculty and a state of the art facility.
Series X., Forensic Union, covers the longest span of years and is the oldest program associated with the three Departments. Regrettably, not all of its activity has been preserved through this record. A researcher will need to consult other sources to confirm many of the debate schedules and student participants. Four "Annual Reports" exist: one single page report from 1948-49 and three printed booklets from 1966-67, 1967-68, and 1968-69. These help to verify the very active and competitive nature of the organization. Of additional interest is the file of Forensic Union Newsletters that survives from September, 1949 to May, 1961.
The Guides to Majors in records series XI. expand upon the college catalog description of course offerings and requirements. Little new information about the direction of the program can be found.
The records series containing records series XII., contain the correspondence of the office, especially of the chair. Within each year's folder, a sizable number of letters are invitations to graduates and their families to department sponsored commencement celebrations. These are augmented by the Miscellaneous Business Files of records series XV., and Miscellaneous Program Files in records series XVI. The latter records give evidence of the activity engaged in over the life of the department that was outside the classroom. From these records series, the place of the Communication Studies Department within the larger context of the Oberlin College community.
Newsletters of the department are of interest for the detail they give on programs and developments within the years for which the newsletter exists. These can be found in records series XVII.
The reports contained in record series XVIII. are not reports of the department but rather are reports of studies conducted by a faculty member of the department.
According to Dean Wolfe (August 6, 1994), records of the Speech Clinic other than those that survive in records series XIX. were probably destroyed by the department owing to their confidential nature.
Records series XX. contains five surveys and questionnaires designed and/or conducted by the department. Of particular interest is the raw data from the 1973 opinion survey of student's reaction to the efficacy of the Mudd Learning Resources Center.
The only records series to contain non-textual material is the records series XXI. which contains nine cups and plaques won by the Forensic Union. The disposition of the entire collection of cups and plaques of this much decorated student organization is unknown.
Subgroup II. is comprised of the files relating to the academic and scholarly work of members of the department of Communication Studies. These records were received as part of the department's records transfer. It is for this reason the these files were left to stand within the overall record group of the department. The faculty members include: Daniel J. Goulding, Christian Koch, Judith Beinstein Miller and W. Dean Wolfe. The College Archives does not hold any personal papers for any of the above named faculty. For the four above named faculty, the records series reports on their teaching, service to the college, and research or scholarship. Single files exist for three other short term faculty and two graduate students. There are incomplete files on the department's process of filling sabbatical leave vacancies.