A “storyography” is the collection of stories people tell about a place, an experience, or time that has touched their lives. These stories become part of their personal and institutional sagas and, in a very real way, define who they are.
Share your “I’ll never forget” moments from your years at Illinois. Your story may cut across generations and record joys, sorrows, and triumphs—big and small. The topic is up to you. So is the medium—send us audio, video, photos, or something your’ve written. Together, our stories will capture what U of I has meant to our lives.
Love and Commencement in the 1940s
One of the last things Robert Kallal (BS ’43, MS ’46, chemical engineering) passed on to his nephew was a silent movie shot on the University of Illinois campus in the 1940s.
Decision of a Lifetime
“In the first week of September in 1952, my mother woke me up at 6 a.m. and said we were going to Champaign. I asked her why. She said, ‘You are going to college.’”
—Raymond Dieter, Jr., (BS ’94, chemistry) describes the lifelong impact of a sudden decision to go to college.
“On December 7, 1941, I was a member of Triangle Fraternity, a fraternity of engineers. We were all stunned when we heard the radio announcement that Pearl Harbor was bombed. It was a time of disbelief. Someone in our group said, ‘Let’s have a parade.’ It started at Second and Daniel.”
—Ray Ackerman (BS ’43, civil engineering) recalls the peculiarity of his classmates being together at both the announcement of the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 and the attacks at the World Trade Center 60 years later on September 11, 2001.
“We could go out for an hour and gather derelicts like old tires, trophies belonging to clubs from the 1970s, theater props or costumes, misshapen hunks of wood, ancient cassette tapes, and any other strange relics of the past we could find in the basement, attic, or wherever else in the building. We’d then wrap the gift, invent a story, and give them to each other in the room as jokes.”
Rashid Robinson (BA ’93, English; PhD candidate, educational policy studies) recalls how a pick-up football game on campus led him to rethink the identity he’d created for himself growing up in Chicago.
Leon Gottfried (AB ’48, general curriculum; MA ’51, PhD ’58, English) describes changes to campus during World War II and how taking a test as a chemical engineering student probably saved his life.
Brian Kung (AB ’11, East Asian languages and cultures) describes to his friend, Sarah Farrukh (senior, journalism), his decision to live part of a school year in a car.