Student Life


Bed Race event during Grand Marshal Week, 1970s

The Institute Archives and Special Collections department holds a wealth of information on student activities.  Materials come in a wide assortment – published and unpublished, official and unofficial – and they document both groups and individuals from the early 19th century on.  While there are many more resources available than what appears on this list, it provides a broad overview of collections available to researchers who are just beginning to study student life at Rensselaer.

Please contact us to discuss your research needs or if you have questions regarding the resources listed below.

Online Institute Histories

Student Publications | A broad array of newsletters, magazines, and occasional publications concerning students’ ethnic, religious, social, honorary, service, athletic, and political organizations, including:

  • At the Playhouse, 1930-present (playbills).
  • The Bachelor, 1952-1971 (humor).
  • Confidential Guide, 1964-1971 (course evaluations).
  • Gorgon, 1961-1998 (art and literature).
  • The Polytechnic, 1869 & 1885-present (campus newspaper).
  • The Pup, 1924-1951 (humor).
  • Rensselaer Handbook, 1896-1965 (information about RPI).
  • Rensselaer Engineer, 1947-1994 (research).
  • Statler & Waldorf, 2002-present (art and literature).
  • Survival Handbook, 1968-1978 (information about RPI).
  • Transit, 1865-present (yearbook).
  • Unicorn, 1972-1983 (humor).

Administrative Publications for Students

  • Catalog, 1826-present.
  • Directory (freshman), 1963-1966.
  • Directory (students, faculty, administration), 1946-1960.
  • Freshman (-men) Handbook, 1980-1982.
  • Frosh Insighter, 1966-1969.
  • Handbook (various titles), 1966-present.
  • Register, 1855-1937.
  • Rensselaer Planner and Guide to Student Life, 1995-present.
  • Survey of Graduating Students, 1976-1997.

Archives and Manuscripts Collections

Individuals’ papers & collections | Many more items are available than those listed below; for additional information see “small collections,” student scrapbooks and lecture notes.


  • AC 19  (prints) and AC 17 (negatives):  Photographs documenting RPI classes, student groups, social activities, classroom and academic work, dorm life, campus scenes, and many other aspects of campus life.
  • AC 18 (prints) and AC 16 (negatives):  Photos of individuals associated with Rensselaer, including students.
  • AC 20 (oversize prints):  Images of groups, individuals, events, and places, including several RPI classes.
  • Class albums:  Photo albums of individuals in RPI classes, 1856-1891