Faculty members Chuck Pailthorp, Dave Hitchens, Tom Maddox, and Leo Daugherty discuss their coordinated studies program, Human Responses To Human Documents. About the Living Catalog series: In the initial years of The Evergreen State College, academic programs were not repeated. The curriculum emerged yearly from creative conversations among colleagues about ideas and themes with which they would like to engage students for a year. These conversations and ideas were often “advertised” on butcher paper clad walls, drawing attention from other faculty who thought they could bring their discipline to bear on a particular theme. From further talks among those committed to a particular program, faculty developed book lists and draft “descriptions” to distribute. This was a rich period in Evergreen’s history. But alas, the luxury of having new ideas and deep discourse in preparation for each fall could not be sustained. Those who were out trying to attract students had nothing like a catalogue of coming programs to entice new students while we on campus were nurturing our dreams. The Living Catalog was a stopgap, an ad hoc way of recording faculty intentions for the coming fall so that prospective students could see and hear what they might be able to study. These tapes could be shipped out with admissions people as they visited high schools and could be shown on campus as students arrived. Before long, programs were being planned and catalogues printed well in advance of implementation and the “academic fair” itself came to substitute for conversations about programs on tape. The archival tapes of The Living Catalog stand as a testimony to the rich intellectual depth and creativity of those first years. Some of the conversations on tape affirm the grand intentions of our work. About the Living Catalog series: In the initial years of The Evergreen State College, academic programs were not repeated. The curriculum emerged yearly from creative conversations among colleagues about ideas and themes with which they would like to engage students for a year. These conversations and ideas were often “advertised” on butcher paper clad walls, drawing attention from other faculty who thought they could bring their discipline to bear on a particular theme. From further talks among those committed to a particular program, faculty developed book lists and draft “descriptions” to distribute. This was a rich period in Evergreen’s history. But alas, the luxury of having new ideas and deep discourse in preparation for each fall could not be sustained. Those who were out trying to attract students had nothing like a catalogue of coming programs to entice new students while we on campus were nurturing our dreams. The Living Catalog was a stopgap, an ad hoc way of recording faculty intentions for the coming fall so that prospective students could see and hear what they might be able to study. These tapes could be shipped out with admissions people as they visited high schools and could be shown on campus as students arrived. Before long, programs were being planned and catalogues printed well in advance of implementation and the “academic fair” itself came to substitute for conversations about programs on tape. The archival tapes of The Living Catalog stand as a testimony to the rich intellectual depth and creativity of those first years. Some of the conversations on tape affirm the grand intentions of our work.

commentary by LLyn De Danaan (Academic Dean during the birth of The Living Catalog)
Original format: 3/4″ video
(1974) Length 22:07
Produced by Media Services for Academics and Admissions