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A Window to the Past

A photo of two windows, decorated with black and white photos of student groups. The green awnings above them say "Cal Poly" and "University Store." A women in a green sweater is walking by the photos.

People walking through the UU Plaza can take a little trip into Cal Poly’s past with the University Store’s historic window displays. Smiling women strum ukuleles, cheerleaders rally the Mustang spirit, engineers labor over an airplane and Amelia Earhart smiles wanly at passersby from the University Store’s windows, all in black and white.

The magnified images of Cal Poly’s past are the result of collaboration between the Cal Poly Corporation and Kennedy Library’s University Archives. The collaboration is one of the largest displays of University Archives’ photos.

“It’s exciting for us because it promotes the campus’ history on such a large scale,” said Special Collections and University Archives curator Catherine Trujillo.

Right now, the images are of our young university in the 1920s and 30s, when Cal Poly’s aeronautics department was blossoming and students even built a working airplane on campus.

A photo of a window display, showing a black and white aerial photo of Cal Poly's campus in the 1930s. There are few buildings and lots of wooded hills. A bike leans on the wall next to the window.

The captions help bring the campus community into University Archives, curator Catherine Trujillo said.

The window displays are changed twice every academic year, moving the University Store windows forward through Cal Poly’s history. The cooperation between University Archives and Cal Poly Cooperation not only provides a spirited backdrop for the University Store, but also allows University Archives to reach more of the campus.

“We’re able to actually draw students and faculty and the campus community back into University Archives by providing the historic caption,” Catherine said.

You can visit University Archives on the fourth floor of Kennedy Library.

// Victoria Billings