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More than 100,000 pieces of St. Olaf history now online

By Trent Chaffee '09
April 22, 2008

Want to learn about Ytterboe the Dog, the Cereal Bowl, bowling at St. Olaf, or another aspect of the college's history? Chances are you will find the right materials in the Fram search engine.

Records on Ytterboe the dog, which roamed the St. Olaf campus from 1942-57, can be found in the Fram database.
This online database, which searches for and identifies letters, diaries, office records, artifacts, recordings, publications, scrapbooks and photos based on keywords, reached a milestone when it surpassed 100,000 records this year. Far more accessible than the previous system of card catalogs, Fram enables anyone to explore the college's archives from its computer.

"Fram is one of the strongest finding tools in the country and a quick way to see what's available in the archives," says Jeff Sauve, associate college archivist in the Shaw-Olson Center for College History. "Having more than 100,000 records online is atypical for a college."

Sauve says Fram attracts a diverse user group. "Students use Fram for class research projects, department administrators find office records and family historians gain a better understanding of a family member," Sauve says. "We've had local historians and historical societies use the rich photograph collection and related manuscripts to develop exhibits and publications."

Records of the former St. Olaf Center Bowling Alley are also available in the Fram database.
"Fram Fram St. Olaf"
Fram was created in the early 1990s by former archivist Joan Olson, who worked with the Information and Instructional Technologies (IIT) office to generate a searchable online database of Manitou Messenger abstracts. When Olson retired in 1998, Sauve continued the project. Sauve completed the remaining 12 years of Manitou Messenger abstracts and added collections records, as well as St. Olaf Magazine records from 1936-66.

Sauve, with the assistance of Dan Beach from IIT and several student workers, updates and manages the Fram database. He estimates that at least 3,000 records and 2,500 full text articles from St. Olaf Magazine are added each year.

A recent tour led by Jeff Sauve (left) for Norwegian Ambassador to the United States Wegger Strommen (second from right) included a stop at the archives. Also pictured are Professor of History Todd Nichol (right) and Consul General Rolf Hansen.
"The database is an ongoing process of new and old collections. We're always making more work for ourselves," Sauve says. "But when a person finds something that helps them better understand a family member or this college, that's what makes me enjoy it so much."

Contact Kari VanDerVeen at 507-786-3970 or