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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Statistics in the University Archives: GPA by Organization

A finding aid for undergraduate students looking for statistics in the archives

Guidelines

  • The archives changes over time.   The organization of the archives evolves.  Don't hesitate to ask for help!
  • Plan your search. Be sure you have a clear idea of how to approach your topic. Review "Searching the Archives".
  • Try preliminary searches.  Keep in mind that "Subjects" are not keywords and not the same as the subject headings used in the library.   You may need to be creative in your search.
  • Identify the location. If you search the archives database "Archon," and find record series that look promising, make note of the location of the files. 
  • Digital records. When materials are digitized by our archives, the title of those documents may begin with the words "Digital surrogate of..."
  • When all else fails - ask an archivist!! 

Grade Point Average/GPA???

Traditional web-engine searches have many virtues, but there are limitations to these these tactics when searching Archives.  

Materials are frequently overlooked if search terms do not include historical terminology. Searching for "Grade Point Average" returns a handful of matches in the archives database.  However, searching for "scholarship report" returns more results.

Privacy laws may restrict access to some materials, including individual grade point averages. To identify unrestricted files that will give compiled statistics for a fraternity, sorority, or dorm, it helps to consider "who compiled the grade reports and why?" 

The search for statistical data is only as successful as the searcher is well-informed. If you know who produced the reports, you will know where to look.  If the report was produced for the Dean of Students then you know to go through those files.  The Dean of Students academic reports are largely unrestricted because they omit grades for individuals and focus on composites for organizations.  For example, grades for all fraternity members are reported to the dean but not individual students.  Oftentimes, individual fraternities and sororities include individual student grades--restricted by law--with their yearly reports.  If this is the case, Dean's files sometimes include summaries on Greek house academic performance and are therefore unrestricted.

Keep an open mind and search broadly.  A variety of search terms may return relevant information, such as files labelled "House Averages" or simply "Grades". 

As the image above indicates, the Daily Illini is another information source.  For many years the paper published grade point averages for fraternities.  Use their search interface and enter the phrase "grade point average". 

Restricted?

Certain issues will affect your ability to find the material and use it once it is identified.

  • Access Restrictions.  Record series control cards sometimes indicate access restrictions.  Please ask an archivist to see if this material that can be viewed without requesting special permissions.  If you want to research this topic, give enough time to obtain the material and obtain necessary permissions.
  • Changing Terminology.  Greek system grade point average information has accumulated for many years, so too have the search terms.   To locate various terms that will result in a successful search, examine the finding aids.  Finding aids list detailed contents of a record series and may give ideas for additional search terms.  To find information on grade point averages from the 1920s-30s, a broad search is required.  For example, "fraternities grades" using the "Search PDF Lists" is particularly useful. 
  • Subject Headings. Searching archives requires a bit of knowledge about the topic in question and how the archives works.  For instance, in the case of grade point averages, initial results may be restricted.  However, the unrestricted papers of Aldon Jorgenson are included in search results because they includes fraternity and sorority grade point averages from 1976-1990. 

Overview

Charts that compare grade point averages for all fraternities on campus were created by national Greek organizations, including the Interfraternity Council Member Fraternity Files.   However, finding these charts may prove problematic, as they reside under a variety of terms.  The chart below, and several others, were simply filed under "Fraternities" and found in 41/2/5

In short, the more thoroughly you explore a topic, the more likely you will find information.