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James Madison University Commencement Programs

Identifier: UA 0050
  • Not requestable

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

The James Madison University Commencement Programs, 1910-2025, consist of five boxes of commencement programs and supplementary materials for graduation ceremonies held at James Madison University. Some items of note include programs from the very first commencement ceremony held by the university when it was still a State Normal School and programs from the 2019 Nursing School Spring commencement ceremony.

Commencement programs typically document graduates' names, their major or program of study, students graduating with honors, other honors and awards, and speakers.


  • Creation: 1910 - 2023


Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. 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 (

Bio/Historical Note

The first commencement program at the State Normal School for Women was held from June 7-14, 1910, as the first commencement programs were held over a period of days with events spread out over the course of the ceremony. The first commencement program began with a play by the senior class, continued throughout the week with a recital by the music department, commencement services and sermons led by local clergy, and ended with an address by the then-governor of Virginia William Hodges Mann and the presentation of diplomas by Samuel P. Duke at the local courthouse assembly hall.

In subsequent years, the commencement ceremonies followed a similar format (a sermon on the first day, activities in the subsequent days, and diplomas handed out on the final day) over a shorter span of time. For a period of time, all events took place during a single day, until 2011 when commencement ceremonies were held over the course of multiple days during the first weekend of May. All commencement ceremonies that follow 2011 adhere to this three-day format: the Graduate School commencement occurs on the first day, the University Program commencement begins the second day ceremonies, and College/Departmental commencement programs occur on the second and third day. These ceremonies take place in a variety of locations on campus, including the Quadrangle, Bridgeforth Stadium, the lawn of Duke Hall, Alumni Centennial Park, and the Festival Ballroom.


2 cubic feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials



The James Madison University Commencement Programs, 1910-2021, consist of four boxes (1.6 cubic feet) of commencement programs and supplementary materials for graduation ceremonies held at James Madison University.


The collection is arranged chronologically.

Acquisition Information

Commencement programs have been collected from multiple sources over time, including official university affiliates and alumni collections.


The most recent commencement programs are added to this collection every semester.

A Guide to the James Madison University Commencement Programs, 1910-2023
Phillip Wong
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

820 Madison Drive
MSC 1706
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612