University Records and Archives

Tulane University’s history begins with the establishment of the Medical College of Louisiana in 1834. By 1847, the Medical College had become an integral part of the newly established public institution, The University of Louisiana. Tulane emerged as a private institution in 1884 after Paul Tulane bequeathed money to endow a university in New Orleans “for the promotion and encouragement of intellectual, moral and industrial education.” The Board of Administrators of the Tulane Educational Fund thus reformulated the University of Louisiana into the Tulane University of Louisiana. More complete histories can be found on Tulane University's History page and in the Tulane Potpourri Fact Book.

Documents pertaining to the establishment of the University reside in the Louisiana Research Collection’s manuscripts archives, also located here in Tulane’s Special Collections. These include the papers of Paul Tulane, benefactor of Tulane University, and Josephine Louise Newcomb, who established Sophie Newcomb College for Women as a co-ordinate college within Tulane University in 1887.

The oldest official record in the University Archives is a ledger entitled, “Proceedings of the Faculty of the Medical College of Louisiana, May 1835 to Feb’y 16, 1847.” The Board of Administrators Record Group holds the most complete record of the operation of the university with documents dating from 1847-1998; these records are closed and may only be accessed with written permission of the Recording Secretary of the Board of Tulane.

Although Tulane University does not have a mandatory records management policy in effect, many historical records which are available for research purposes have been preserved by the University Archives. The most widely used of these records is the Presidents Record Group, which contains administrative papers of each president from 1889-1998 (the current President’s records are not accessible). The University Archives also has records from various former provosts, deans, advisory groups, departments, schools, and administrative units such as Alumni Affairs, Student Affairs, and the Publications office.

The University Archives holds transcripts of former students dating back to 1900, although some privacy restrictions may limit general access to these records. Requests for official copies of transcripts must be made to the Registrar’s office. Other documents which might contain information about former students are application books for various units of the university, lists of yearly graduates by degree, registers of students, telephone books, and yearbooks.

A caveat: While we have transcripts for medical students who attended the Medical School between 1900-1950, we do not have official records for students who attended after 1950.  Many records of former medical students are held at the School of Medicine’s Office of Graduate Medical Education, not at the University Archives. We can tell you if and when a medical student graduated from the university, but that student’s records may only available through GME.  

Other types of material in our holdings include manuscripts of publications about Tulane, documents created by university organizations, scrapbooks created by students and by university personnel, athletics media guides and programs.