As the keeper of the history of Northern Illinois University, the staff of the Regional History Center/University Archives realized that it was our responsibility, no matter how horrific, to document all aspects of the February 14, 2008 tragedy. The 2/14 Memorial Project was developed by the staff of the Center with the goal of creating web-accessible content as a part of the 2/14 Memorial Collection. This collection is divided into two sections: Manuscripts & Ephemera/Artifacts, and a website. The website was created to display these artifacts for researchers and provide healing for all effected by the tragedy.
The manuscripts section of the 2/14 Memorial Collection can only be accessed by researchers who visit the Regional History Center in person. Advanced permission must be obtained by agreeing to the Researcher Use Policy. The records contained in the Manuscript section include a wide range of materials. They span the first e-mails notifying the campus of the shooting the afternoon of February 14, 2008 and continue through the anniversaries and the awarding of scholarships in memory of the victims. Documentation includes news coverage, administrative reports, condolences, oral history interviews, as well as a variety of other records that document the tragedy. The Ephemera/Artifacts section included in the collection are items from the spontaneous memorials found throughout campus, condolence items such as banners, quilts, and sweatshirts sent from other institutions (including large A-Frame boards from Virginia Tech), and items created by the NIU community. These items are available online through the Memorial Collections section of the website. For serious researchers interested in viewing the entire collection, an inventory containing a box by box, folder by folder listing of exactly what is archived at the Center is available.
The Center’s staff created this website to help others find comfort in the condolences sent to the University and to somehow learn from this tragedy. The website provides access to the Memorial items without causing damage from regular physical handling. Visitors interested in looking at the memorial items may do so at any time, from any location world-wide. This includes the MLK Commons panels and VT boards, which are viewable with high zooming capabilities. Included in the resources portion of the website are bibliographies on such relevant topics as campus violence and mental illness, and lesson plans for different age groups and on various topics to help teachers use the available sources. The website also provides the opportunity for people to tell their own stories to aid in healing as well as adding to the first person accounts in the archives.