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Student Government Association Records

Identifier: UA 0007

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

This collection documents the activities of James Madison University's Student Government Association in Harrisonburg, Virginia from 1915-2015. The collection developed from seven different accessions from the Student Government Association received in the 1990s and early 2000s and contains a wide range of material which is organized according to physical type or corresponding to subject. Much of the material in this collection derives from different meetings within the organization including: the Student Council, Student Senate, Execution Board, Senate and Council Committees, and others. A large amount of the collection is administrative material regarding the work of these different internal groups as well as the procedures which govern them. Similarly, these different internal meetings produced a fair amount of the minutes, committee reports, and legislative files found in the collection. In addition to these materials, there are also a large amount of financial files related to the budget of SGA and other on campus organizations. This collection also consists of correspondence to and from different members of the SGA usually regarding issues of student conduct on and off campus. The last major section of the collection contains photographs, scrapbooks, and ephemera memorializing different SGA events. Further descriptions of the material can be found in the series descriptions. The collection has been arranged into twelve series.


  • 1915-2015


Access Restrictions

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Collection is open for research with the exception of certain records protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), particularly those in Series 8: Disciplinary Reports. FERPA protection of student records ends with the death of the student. Therefore, records are opened for research 80 years after their creation when it is presumed that the student is deceased.

Media is inaccessible pending reformating.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection (

Use Restrictions

Copyright for materials authored or otherwise produced as official business of James Madison University is retained by James Madison University. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user. For more information, contact the Special Collections Reference Desk (

Staff have taken special care to identify and remove sensitive materials, particularly those relating to students' academic records, found within this collection. However, in rare instances, privacy protected information may be revealed during use of this collection. Researchers agree to make no notes or other recordation of privacy protected information if found within this collection, and further agree not to publish or disclose such information for any purpose. Researchers agree to alert Special Collections staff if potentially privacy protected information is found within this collection. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Administrative History

James Madison University's Student Government Association was established in February 1915 as the school’s first student government. Although rumblings of self-government began with the founding of the school in 1908, it took a fair amount of effort to bring this idea to fruition. The roots of the university’s SGA derive from the student Honor Council which began in the 1909-1910 school year. Students involved in the Honor Council began to create an unofficial student government that although unable to act in an official capacity, was instrumental in helping to bring about student support for self-government. By 1914, a small group of students worked together to draft a constitution for the planned student government organization and presented this constitution to the faculty. After completing revisions suggested by the faculty, the constitution was presented and voted on by the entire student body February 25, 1915 and as a result, the Student Association of the State Normal School at Harrisonburg was established. This first iteration of the organization required that the entire student body act as a member. Additionally, the Honor Committee was converted into the first Executive Board. This Executive Board included three officers (president, vice-president, and secretary), and several elected members of each class.

As the school and student population grew so did the organization and it eventually became unrealistic for the entire student body to act as members of the organization. Complications also arose within the organization with the introduction of full-time male students in 1946. At the time, it did not seem appropriate for men and women to govern students of the opposite sex. As a result, the male students decided to create their own self-government in 1950, labeling their organization the Men’s Student Government Organization. The female students likewise formally relabeled their existing organization the Women’s Student Government Association in 1953 to better distinguish the separation between the two groups; however, they rarely included this additional identifier. While the two groups worked together on many matters through the 50s and 60s, the organizations formally combine in 1970, creating the current manifestation of the Student Government Association.

As of 2015, the SGA at JMU is made up of appointed members on the Executive Staff, Representatives, and At-Large Senators. Elected members include Class Council Senators, College Senators, and Area Residence Senators. The mission: The Student Government Association of James Madison University is an organization dedicated to collaborating with all members of its community to advocate for student opinion, while fostering a proactive, inclusive environment.


12.74 cubic feet (37 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Student Government Association Records consist of 12 cubic feet of material relating to the activities of the James Madison University's Student Government Association from its establishment as the Student Association of the State Normal School for Women at Harrisonburg in 1915 until 2015.


The collection is arranged into 11 series. All series are arranged chronologically.

  1. Administrative, 1915-2015
  2. Committees, 1931-2015
  3. Correspondence, 1955-2003
  4. Policies and Regulations, 1931-1971
  5. Minutes, 1929-2012
  6. Legislative Files, 1989-2012
  7. Financial Files, 1987-2014
  8. Disciplinary Reports, 1922-1973
  9. Photographs, 2000-2014
  10. Scrapbooks, 2001-2009
  11. Ephemera, 1930-2015

Acquisition Information

The material in this collection was donated by members of James Madison University's Student Government Association in several different accessions between 1993 and 2015. The earlier accessions (1993-2001) were previously processed and assigned archival collection numbers SGA 93-0401, SGA 93-1019, and SGA 2001-1010. These materials were reprocessed along with the later accessions and combined into one larger collection, UA 0007. Additional accessions (2015-0830, 2015-0828, and 2015-0505) were added to the collection in November 2018. On May 1st, 2019, an additional 2 storage boxes were donated by SGA Communications Director, Halle Forbes.


This collection may receive additions.

Related Materials

Some of the material in this collection can be viewed on Special Collections' Student Government Association Digital Exhibit published on-line in April 2015.


  • Raymond Dingledine, Madison College: The First Fifty Years, 1908-1958 (Harrisonburg, Virginia: Madison College, 1959).

Processing Information

After reviewing the material in all accessions, about 2 linear feet of material was removed from one of the 2005 accessions. The material was largely financial forms that contained banking information or social security numbers. All binder and notebook material was removed from the original bindings and transferred into folders. All the pages from each of the scrapbooks were removed and photocopied. Photocopies were also made of the cover and back covers. This was done to help preserve the context of the photographs on the pages in preparation for possible adhesive failure.

A Guide to the Student Government Association Records, 1915-2015
Mary Ann Mason, Tiffany Cole
March 2015, November 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2018-11: Finding aid updated to include new accessions.

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

880 Madison Drive
MSC 1704
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612