I Was There shares the insights and experiences of the generations of students, professors, and staff who lived and worked at the U of A for the past 100 years. First-person stories and period photographs present a unique insight into university lore from the vantage point of those who were most intimately involved in making the university what it is today: the students and alumni.
"An outstanding and monumental piece of work, exhaustively researched and beautifully presented, I Was There records the 100-year growth of the University of Alberta through first-hand accounts of those whose lives it has shaped. Aimed primarily at its alumni, it is at once a history, a documentary and an institutional autobiography." Judges, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education
"That's the kind of book I Was There is. It's full of facts to be sure, but they are facts with personality. Curiously, I asked my daughter to have a look through to see if it is pertinent to her years at the university. Her reaction was just like mine, 'Ohh! That's a lot to read!' and then, 'Oh! This is interesting!' And she got stuck reading a blurb here and a blurb there." Susan Jones, The St. Albert Gazette, January 2007
"I Was There balances frankness in its coverage, while capturing for each era the key memories that alumni themselves probably never took the time to record, and presents them in a way that surely will re-invigorate the essential dialogue between the institution and one of its most important advocate and constituent groups." Judges, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education
"Collecting testimonies from generations of students, professors, and staffs who lived and worked at the University of Alberta, I Was There reads fluidly throughout its length of seven hundred pages, as it walks the reader through highlights, anecdotes, funny stories, and moments that would shape history. Notes, an index, and black-and-white vintage photography scattered through I Was There adds a visual touch to this soulful compendium and tribute that is surely the next best thing to having experienced the University of Alberta for oneself." Wisconsin Bookwatch, March, 2007.
"... I Was There tells the story of the University from the sheer determination it took to will a university into existence on the frozen northern prairie right up to the present day. Along the way, characters, events and social mores are illuminated by people who lived through them....In fact it's the little stories in the book, the historical asides, that provide some of the most fascinating reading....Beauty pageants were shut down as women's liberation gained ground on campus; a panel discussion following a film called Human Reproduction had two professors, a reverend and a nun, as panel members; and 1969 saw the near-demolition of the beloved Rutherford House....[The book] will appeal to provincial history buffs, alumni, faculty members as well as current or prospective students looking to get a handle on some of the reasons things are the way they are on campus." Bryan Birtles, Vue Weekly, January 2007
"Our alumni were thrilled to receive copies from the Faculty during Reunion Weekend. It's the perfect gift." - Dru Marshall, Associate Dean, Physical Education and Recreation
"First person stories and period photographs provide an appealing look at daily life and activities during the century of the university's growth." Alberta History, Summer 2007
"...I Was There is a voluminous work that captures the voices of many of those who make up a modern and diverse Canadian university by including the perspectives of many students, professors, and administrators supplemented with numerous and well-chosen photographs." Jeff Charnley, Oral History Review, Spring/Winter 2009
"I never knew a history book could be so much fun to read-well written, well structured, and well-referenced. With this splendid piece of work, Ellen has ensured that key events in the history of the University of Alberta are not consigned to oblivion." - Olumide Adetunji, former Vice-President Academic, Graduate Students' Association
"I put aside the other books I've been reading and decided to finish reading, from cover to cover, I Was There. It is superb!" Myer Horowitz, President Emeritus
"Reading I Was There is like going on a treasure hunt - one fascinating discovery after another. For students today, the stories of our alumni bring 100 years of our shared campus history to life." - Graham Lettner, Students' Union President, 2004-2005
"The lively book not only exemplifies the idea that the University is a community bound by the stories it tells, but also includes a surprising number of Augustana references -- including an interview with a first-year student in fall 2004 -- to remind readers that the ties between the University and its new Camrose campus are personal and long-established." Roger Epp, Dean, Augustana Campus
"Their names grace our public buildings, schools and communities. Their stories tell the history of our University and Province. In I was There Ellen Schoeck shares the personal narratives of University of Alberta alumni and staff with her characteristic enthusiasm and passion; capturing a wealth of memories, humour and personal perspectives which might otherwise be lost to us forever." Heike Juergens, President, Alumni Association
"The greatest measure of a great university is its alumni and the lives they lead both on campus and afterwards. Ellen Schoeck has brilliantly captured the experiences of several generations of our students." - Daniel Woolf, Dean of Arts
"Ellen has written a true people's history of the university. Each story is a gem." - Karen Wichuk, Director, Government Relations
"Ellen Schoeck approached students, professors and staff and collected the best and most colourful of their stories for this enormous book, adding wonderfully complementary photos and art.It's an informative look at a central piece of Alberta history". Edmonton Journal
"The moment I started reading I Was There, I couldn't stop. This book will be a trip down memory lane for all alumni." - Carole Byrne, Vice-Provost and Registrar
"I love this book; it's a joy to read, and the style has a Stuart McLean-like lightness of touch. The anecdotes follow each other effortlessly; each is a narrative gem, a story just waiting to be told." - Rob Desjardins, PhD Student, U of A
"With its accounts of the U of A's first day of class, Gateway ads circa 1940 for prom 'Twinkle-Toe Splendour' shoes and the campus Tuck Shop's recipe for cinnamon buns, Ellen Schoeck's I Was There is a thorough and colourful history. Organized chronologically with helpful timelines, the book is packed with interesting stories and photos of the people and events that shaped the university from its very beginnings as River Lot 5 and a 'glimmer in [then-premier] Rutherford's eye.'" Westworld, Sept 2007
"I keep I Was There right on my desk. It's packed with information, and Ellen's entertaining style has made 100 years of our history an easy, enjoyable read." - Derek Roy-Brenneis, Executive Officer, Senate
"This the first history of the University to focus on what life was like for students. I was fascinated to read about the pranks of yesteryear, tuition protests, and the true sense of community on campus. However, my favourite sections were definitely the 'Glimpses from the Gateway.'" Adam Rozenhart, U of A graduate and former Gateway editor
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