The Brandeis Course Catalog: A Hidden Gem

Description by Karen Adler Abramson, Associate Director for the Robert D. Farber University Archives and Special Collections

1957-58 Course CatalogAnyone interested in the history of Brandeis University will be pleased to learn that all undergraduate and graduate course catalogs are now available in digital format via the Internet Archive. Known as the Brandeis University Bulletin, the university course catalog (undergraduate 1948-present; graduate 1953-present) is a surprisingly rich resource that offers far more than course descriptions.

Particularly in the early years of the school’s founding, course catalogs served as promotional publications that sought to attract students and donors to the young university. Featured within their pages were photographs of campus structures (many now long gone), artists’ renderings of proposed buildings that never came to be, campus maps and university master plans with full foldouts.

Girl Skating on Massell PondBrown TerrariumOther photographs documented campus life and culture and helped to capture the prevailing zeitgeist. Students can be seen studying by the old wishing well, playing folk music in the Castle Commons, cheering at a football game or dancing at a social. For those unaware that Brandeis once had a grape arbor and a terrarium (Brown Terrarium), that students once skated on Kane Reflecting Pool in Hamilton Quad (now Massell Quad), that General Education S was a required course for all students, and featured guest speakers such as Robert Frost, Alfred Kinsey and Margaret Mead, or that the original student center (Mailman) once stood where the new Shapiro Admissions Center currently resides, the course catalogs will confirm these and other noteworthy facts about the university’s past.

April 10, 2010

View all Brandeis course catalogs (by academic year) on the Internet Archive website: