Finding a Photograph: A Graduate School Homecoming Story

Sometimes a quick peek to the past is an important part of life.


  1. The University of North Dakota awarded its first graduate degree in 1895. Since then, more than 10,000 students have earned graduate degrees from UND. I wonder, sometimes, when I look at videos and pictures of past students ... what were they thinking? How did their future look?
  2. 125th Anniversary - UND Graduate School
  3. This week, as we celebrate Homecoming, I got a chance to look for a photograph for an alum of The Graduate School. It sparked a fun trip through the archives of old Catalogs, yellowed pages and black and white pictures.

    In 1974, Harvey Cain graduated from The University of North Dakota with a Master's degree in Sociology.

    In 2011, Harvey sent an email to UND's Alumni Associate, asking about a photograph:

    "I am looking for an old picture featured in the 1972 Graduate Catalog. It is black and white, shows a guy and girl on a bridge. The guy has both hands on the bridge rail and the girl is leaning looking at him."

    I didn't know why he wanted the picture, but I knew it was important to him. After more than 35 years, he remembered the photograph vividly.

    I started the search right away.

  4. Of course I had some help. I sent emails around the office, to UND's Registrar, University Relations, and the Alumni Association.

  5. I started in our office. We have copies of catalogs going back to 1928. I'll admit, I got side-tracked. It's too fun looking through old books!
  6. I didn't find the photograph in our catalogs. But I did learn a few things about our office's history. We've been in the same location since the 1960s -- Twamley Hall rooms 414 and 416. (Stop by for a visit!)

    An hour later, I got an phone call. Dick Larson, who works in University Relations, found the photograph in the Registrar's Office. It was in the 1974 Undergraduate Catalog.

  7. Dick emailed Harvey to make sure it was the right photograph ... but it had to be, it matched the description in Harvey's email perfectly.

  8. And Harvey confirmed that, yes, that was the picture he wanted.
  9. To find the print, Dick will work with the Chester Fritz Library and look through the archives. Today, coincidentally, the Chester Fritz is celebrating its 50th Anniversary.

  10. So we found the photograph. I emailed Harvey and thanked him for the chance to look for it ... it was a great search. I won't tell you why he wants the picture. I don't want to ruin his surprise! But I can tell you this ... the picture is of Harvey and his wife, Holly, taken before they graduated from UND. I asked him what the picture reminded him of.

    "Life's milestones," he said. He and his wife "were about to graduate and needed to focus on our future."

  11. How many graduating students do you suppose paused at that bridge, at that same spot, looking out over that same coulee ... paused, and asked themselves what the future would be?

    We went out today to recreate the photograph.
  12. While we were out, we saw students on their way to class, we saw a father showing his daughters were he used to go to class, and we saw families touring campus to see if UND was where they would apply.