Skip to main content

Black Student Alliance records

 Record Group — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RS 22/3/5

Scope and Contents

Organizational and business records, including tax records, financial activity reports, articles of incorporation; flyers, promotional materials for events, ephemera associated with social, educational, and other campus events, including Greek society events; publications, including newsletters; annual reports to membership and to the Conference on Black Student Government (Big 8, Big 12); annual reports from other Black student organizations at peer institutions to the Conference on Black Student Government; materials produced in the course of BSA activity and membership activity in the creation of, support of, and activity around the September 29th movement, including firsthand accounts of campus events, encounters with administration, and student government actions relating to the renaming of Botany Hall to Catt Hall and the protests from students including BSA and membership; photographs; and newsclippings.


  • Creation: 1969-2019

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Consult with Special Collections and University Archives.

Biographical / Historical

Founded as the Black Student Organization (BSO) in 1968, the Black Student Alliance (BSA) at Iowa State University is a registered student organization committed to "uplifting and empowering students of African descent through academic, professional, cultural, and social programs.” ( Eighty-six Black students, beginning in December of 1967 and working through the spring of 1968, formed the BSO around the statement, "We... are inspired by a common determination to promote understanding among our people and cooperation in all matters pertaining to our survival and advancement" (annual report, 1997) and with the explicit intention of being a force for activism and political change on campus. In May of 1968, as one of their first official acts, the BSO filed grievances against the University with a demand for redress by the beginning of August. While some initial demands were met, seven student members, including student-athletes, left the University in protest.

In 1977 the organization changed its name and operated as the Black Student Government until 1992, when it changed to the Black Student Alliance. According to its constitution, the BSA "has been established to serve as a voice for the issues and concerns of students of African descent through educational, political, community service and social programs; to promote cooperation and understanding within the Black community, to encourage a sense of unity among the various organizations important to that community, and to fight racism, sexism, classism and heterosexism." In the decades since its inception, the BSA has maintained its core principle of uplifting students of African descent, with the organization's activities shifting in response to campus climate and its memberships' interests.
In 1992, the BSA organized and supported students involved in the September 29th Movement, which protested the proposed renaming of Botany Hall to honor Carrie Chapman Catt. The student protestors raised questions about Catt's political legacy, drawing attention to her statements supporting white supremacy in the United States. Although the advocacy and support of the BSA on behalf of the Movement drew censure from the Student Government, the BSA looked beyond the Iowa State campus to bring national attention to the issue, particularly the treatment of the protestors by the University.
The BSA has been a member of the Council on Black Student Government (variously the Big IIX and Big XII) since its formation in 1977, electing and sending delegates to the annual Conference, reporting on and learning from the activities of member organizations in their efforts to "promote Black culture, leadership, positive self-efficacy, political power and awareness, and goodwill of the student body and Black community on the campus of each member institution." ( Programming created, provided, or sponsored by the BSA includes the education and social "Black Saturdays," begun in 1968 and carried on as "Friday After Class;" working with the Committee on Lectures to bring in speakers such as Angela Davis, Cornel West, Jesse Jackson, and Nikki Giovanni; the reorganization of the Black Cultural Center on campus; the annual Harambee celebration; various food drives and community-centered charitable efforts; the BSA mentoring program; Black Love Week; and the twice-annual Black Cultural Center cleanup.


287 Megabytes

3.15 Linear Feet (Six document boxes and three half-document boxes)

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations

  • License: This record is made available under an Universal 1.0 Public Domain Dedication Creative Commons license.


This collection is arranged into six series: Organizational records; Catt Hall and September 29th Movement; Publications; Conference on Black Student Government Reports and Proceedings; Photographs; and Newsclippings. Internally, series are arranged alphabetically by folder/publication name and chronologically by creation date, with undated materials coming at the end; materials in the Photographs series which were rehoused from albums are arranged together; newsclippings are arranged chronologically as could be determined, with undated materials at the end. The Digital Records 2018-2019 sub-group was created for ease of access during campus closure of 2020, and is pending reassesment and potential rearrangement.

Separated Materials

In the course of processing this collection, project plans and reports from the Engineers Without Borders ISU Student Chapter were found and removed for arrangement as an independent record group.

Black Student Alliance records
Kahlee Leingang, A.L. Carson
March 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023/02/28: The physical materials in this collection were processed, arranged, and described between summer of 2022 and spring of 2023, adding the arrangement, biographical/historical, related materials, separated materials, and updating the scope and contents notes. Physical processing was performed by A.L. Carson and students under their supervision.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672