M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives


Finding Aid for the


For reference queries contact Grenander Department Reference staff or (518)-437-3935.

Finding Aid Compiled by
Richard Duro
August 18, 1989

M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives 
University Libraries / University at Albany / State University of New York 
1400 Washington Avenue / Albany, New York 12222 / (518) 437-3935

VOLUME: .25 cubic feet

ACQUISITION: All items in this manuscript group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, by the former members of Myskania.

ACCESS: Access to this record group is unrestricted.

COPYRIGHT: The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.


Administrative History

Scope and content note

Series descriptions

Box and folder list:

Myskania Records
Administrative History

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In 1915 a petition was submitted to President Abraham Brubacher asking that a student government be organized (for the original petition see Alumni Memorabilia Collection). In April of 1917 a faculty committee appointed by Brubacher announced the decision to create a student council comprised of seniors. This council would take charge of student affairs and concerns. Soon after, the council adopted the name Myskania, the meaning of which has been kept secret.

Secrecy was to pervade most aspects of Myskania's early history. The organization was self-perpetuating, with senior members selecting their replacements from among the intellectual, moral, and civic leaders of the junior class. Prior to 1931, the student association chose three of its members, but after 1931 Myskania chose all of its own members.

Myskania's role was defined in section 11, article 11 of its constitution: "Myskania shall regulate all undergraduate activities, not academic in nature." These activities included the oversight of student publications, student entertainment, class constitutions, the time and manner of the election of class officers, the organization of the freshman class, and the protection of college traditions.

Myskania's early years saw an active assertion of its powers. In 1921, Myskania suggested the formation of the Student Association as the off Icial student government and even wrote its constitution.

Myskania's eventual demise stemmed from the gradual assumption of its functions by the Student Association. By 1935, the Student Association decided that certain functions, such as the freshman-sophomore rivalries were an executive function, not a judicial one, and Myskania lost one of its main functions. In 1946, due to the disappearance of its governmental powers and the hostility shown to its secret functions and rituals, Myskania announced its dissolution. Later that same year, former Myskania members burned its records and constitution. In 1946, former members of Myskania resurrected it as a volunteer group. It was declared a temporary judicial council in 1946. One year later, Myskania would rise again as an official organization. In 1963, Myskania was called upon to adjudicate the Cortland Case involving the commission of lewd acts by Albany students at a basketball tournament in Cortland, N.Y. Myskania issued summonses, placed some students on probation, and expelled another. This was the last vigorous act ever taken by Myskania. In 1964, one of Myskania's chief duties was taken away, the freshman-sophomore rivalries. Since 1946, Myskania had been allowed only to supervise the function, but now it was not to be involved at all. Under a revised constitution, Myskania's role was to act as guardian of the freshman class and of school tradition, and to screen appointments to the school judiciary. By 1968, the student newspaper was calling Myskania a useless organization that should be abolished. Despite this opposition, Myskania continued to function until 1979, when it appeared before the Student Association to justify its budget. Unable to define an adequate set of functions, Myskania was excluded from the budget. There were no elections to Myskania in 1980. Myskania's own creation, the Student Association, had taken all of Myskania's power, and was thus the main instrument of its dissolution.

Myskania Records
Scope & Content Note

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As Myskania's basic purpose was to create and preserve school traditions through the control of student conduct and functions, panicularly with regard to the freshman class, the research use of these records would best suit someone interested in development of school tradition, conduct of students, and the development of student government.

Myskania survived as an organization from 1917-79, but in 1946 Myskania declared itself defunct and burned all its records to demonstrate against its lack of power and to preserve the secrecy of the organization, especially the way in which its members were chosen. The meaning of "Myskania" remains a mystery that only its members know.

The original documents in this collection all stem from the period 1946-79. These records include minutes, announcements, decisions, proposals, tabulations of votes for membership, a membership list from 1917-70 and a history of the organization, written in 1984. The records from the time period of 1946-62 are not very extensive, since during this period Myskania's role had been severely limited.

Myskania Records
Series Descriptions

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Series 1: Minutes of Meetings, 1946-49, 1958, 1960-62. 0.1 cubic feet. Arranged chronologically

The series contains meeting minutes detailing Myskania's areas of responsibility, which included the acculturation of the freshman class, the administration of the school judiciary, and the preservation of school tradition.

Series 2: Decisions and Announcements, 1951, 1955, 1957-58, 1960-66. 0.1 cubic feet. Arranged chronologically.

The series includes the records of court cases, decisions on the constitutionality of Student Association rulings, postings of decisions, announcements of school functions, and membership records.

Series 3: Myskania History, 1963, 1965, 1970, 1975, 1984. 0.1 cubic feet. Arranged chronologically.

Contains Internal reports on the role Myskania should play in school government, a constitution (1975), a membership list for the years 1917 to 1970, and "The Life and Death of Myskania," an unpublished history of the organization written by Alfred Basch (1984).

Myskania Records
Box and Folder List

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Series 1: Minutes of Meetings, 1946-49, 1958, 1960-62


Series 2: Decisions and Announcements, 1951, 1955, 1957-58, 1960-66

Announcements, 1951
Announcements, 1955
Decisions and tabulations, 1955
Student activity sheets, 1957
Decisions, 1958
Decisions on the Constitutionality of Student Association Rulings, 1958
Decisions on the Potsdam Case, 1960
Decisions, 1961-66
Rulings on the Cortland Case, 1963

Series 3: Myskania History, 1963, 1965, 1970, 1975, 1984

Constitution and Ideas for the Role of Myskania, 1963
Role of Myskania, 1965
Constitution, 1975
Membership of Myskania, 1917-70
"Life and Death of Myskania, 1984

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Last updated August 21, 2007