History of the Academic Records Project
The permanent record cards are the Universityís official student record containing the coursework, grades, and degree information of all students. The number of Permanent Record Cards total over 130,000 and date back to the first days of the University. The Office of the University Registrar is charged with maintaining these records for the lifetime of the University. To this point, the permanent record cards have been maintained in a large bank-type vault and were individually pulled when a request for a record was made. These records have been imaged and indexed and are now stored on a University computer server. This has cut down on the turn around time considerably for processing a transcript request from one of these records. We now have the ability to process the request while a student waits, if need be.
How we take modern day technology for granted! Back when SMU opened in the early 1910ís, record-keeping technology was little more than writing with pen and paper and filing that paper alphabetically. Keep in mind that the Social Security Administration had yet opened its doors and filing numerically wasnít available. SMU records were kept safe and secure in the vault in Perkins Administration Building (after it was built in 1926). Producing transcripts for students in the early 20th century involved a laborious task of pulling the record by a registrarís office staff member and transcribing the record. After the advent of negative photo coping technology, the staff member simply made a photostat of the record. As you can imagine this made for a rather crude impression of the original record.
Over the years new forms of technology arrived which offered a variety of ways to care for these older records. It was 1950 when the first attempt to microfilm these records began. Yet, these first attempts were abandoned. It was not until the 1990ís that the project was taken up again at the urging of then Provost Ruth Morgan. The vision was to begin a method of preserving records and this new attempt to microfilm older records began with records beginning the year 1967 to 1981. Once complete the project was to turn to all permanent records prior to 1967. Luckily, computer technology has continued to evolve making the electronic record a much more feasible solution to record keeping.