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Records of A&O Productions

Identifier: 31/6/75

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

Boxes 1-9:

The records of A&O Productions fill nine boxes, spanning the years 1970–1995. The bulk of the records consist of production records for the events organized during those years.

The General Files, spanning the years 1984–1994, include the administrative materials of three successive chairpersons (1985–88), financial records, a general contracts file, and other materials that do not relate to one specific event. Of particular interest is the Event Summaries file from 1988–1993, which provides a good synopsis of the productions for the years indicated, and the file titled “Posterity” (1990) provides insight into the background of the events for that academic year.

The production records are organized by production type: General Events, A&O Ball, Debates, Theater Performances, the “Bar” Series, Speakers and Concerts, Drive-in Movies, Freshman Mixers, and Pumpkin Prom. It should be noted that the categorization into production type is not definitive. One may find a file for a concert performed at The Gathering Place under “Concerts” rather than “Bar Series.” The records within the production type are then arranged chronologically by the date of the event. The folder title may refer to the title of an event, or the name of the performer. Folders are included for events that were canceled, although there is usually very little information given for the reason for cancellation. There are also folders for proposed and tentative events. Contents of the files vary: they may include correspondence, contracts, memoranda, press releases, passes, post event reports, advertisements, notes. The venue for the event usually appears on the folder label.

The General Events files span the years 1985 through 1994 and include identified events that may have run several years in a row, such as the Senior Unmixer or events that appear to be one-time events such as the A&O Birthday Party or various speakers. The contents of the files vary and may include contracts, post-event reports, advertising, and memoranda.

The A&O Ball records span the years 1982 through 1994. The contents of the files vary. They may contain contracts with the hotels or pertain to entertainers, advertising, or bills for advertising, post-production evaluation reports, catering arrangements, budgets, notes, checklists and correspondence. Records covering a few years, such as 1991, hold very little information. The files for several years contain post-production evaluation reports, which provide a glimpse into the successes of the balls and problems encountered.

The Debates files span the years 1984–1994 and include general files arranged by year and then by event. The 1984 Speakers/Debates file includes announcements, contracts, and some post-production evaluations. Some of the events for 1985 are titled “Symposium.” The debates covered such issues as abortion, Hitlerism and the Holocaust, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Theater Performances category, one of the smaller series, spans the years 1978 through 1994. The events range from comedy and dance to plays and poetry readings. The files may contain announcements, advertising, contracts and memoranda.

The Bar Series spans the years 1983 through 1991, with a number of gaps in the records. It is unclear when an event is included in the Bar Series and when it is a concert performed at The Gathering Place bar. The folders may contain contracts, correspondence, memoranda, and advertisements.

The Speakers files span the years 1978 through 1995. The wide range of speakers includes poets, writers, politicians, and comedians. The folders may contain advertising, bills for advertising, post-production evaluation reports, catering arrangements, budgets, notes, checklists, stage arrangements and correspondence. In addition, there are notes on an effort to bring Hillary Clinton to the campus in 1995.

The Concerts comprise the bulk of the series and span the years 1970 through 1995. The concerts feature local as well as internationally recognized performers, and were held in all venues on the campus, from the bar to the stadiums and auditoriums. There is little consistency in contents from file to file. Some of the files for latter years contain post-production summaries that reveal information about interaction between the A&O staff, the concert attendees, the performers and the University administration.

Other Events include Drive-In Movie, Freshman Mixer, and Pumpkin Prom files comprised of contracts, correspondence, post-production notes, and flyers.

Additions, Boxes 10-36

The Addition to the Records of A&O Productions fills 27 boxes, spanning the years 1968-2010.  This time span includes materials dated earlier, as well as later, as those in the original series, boxes 1-9, and contains some materials that overlap in time and content with the original series. The researcher is advised to consult the container lists for both portions of the collection.  As in the original series, the bulk of the records consist of production information about events sponsored by A&O. The organization of the addition mirrors that of the original series. The General Files, spanning the years 1982-2004, contain materials relating to the various venues where A&O events were held; companies with which A&O contracted for such tasks as lighting, catering, and sound; maps of the campus and Evanston throughout the years;  and information about shows that were cancelled and offers that were declined. The A&O Newspaper Clippings Files, spanning 1981-2010, provides insight into how A&O and the events it produced have been perceived by the University and students.  The articles range from simple summaries of an event, to those that offer a more in-depth analysis of A&O's role—including those that discuss the annual budget distribution by ASG (Associated Student Government), which supplies funds to A&O and to many other student groups. Also included are advertisements for various events over the years. The A&O Finance files span the years 1983-2005 and consist of budgets, financial summaries, financial contracts, general ledgers, and receipts or checks, most of which are that do not go with specific events.  Materials are foldered by type and year. The Production Records are organized by production type and then ordered chronologically within each category, with the exception of the Film Title files. Production types are: General  Events, the A&O Ball, Speakers, A&O Films, Concerts, Other Events, and Pumpkin Prom.  The files are arranged chronologically by year (not necessarily by month within the year).  The title of the folder usually states the name the associated band/speaker/singer or the title of the event as advertised along with the year(s) it occurred in. Files may contain correspondence, contracts, artist's riders, press releases, passes, tickets, post event reports, advertisements and notes.  The General Events, spanning from 1991-2000, include an assortment of events that, for the most part, only took place once or twice over the years.  Such events include going to Chicago Cubs games, Chicago Blackhawks games, comedy shows, New Student week festivities and random events like the Great Gonzo Gig.  These events tend to stray away from other categories in certain aspects and therefore have been grouped together in an organized, albeit eclectic, group. Records of the popular and successful annual A&O Ball span the years 1989-2002, although not all years within this span are documented.  The files typically contain performance contracts, venue information, checklists, schedules, and correspondences. The Speakers files span the years 1982 through 2005 and demonstrate the wide range of  personalities-- including politicians, singers, directors, comedians and authors, among others—who spoke on an equally wide range of topics. The folders contain material such as contracts, correspondence, schedules, and event summaries. The A&O Films files begin in 1968 and go through 2007.  These files fall into two categories: the quarterly movie schedules and lineups, organized chronologically; and movie flyers and information, ordered alphabetically by movie title for ease of searching.  The movies ran the gamut of genres from blockbuster hits, to lesser known films and cult classics. The Concert files comprise the bulk of the Production Records, and span the years 1970-2004 (along with a folder of undated material).  Concerts were and still are a huge part of A&O Productions, drawing the biggest crowds aside from the A&O Ball. The concerts have featured local bands, as well as internationally known and renowned artists, and have been held in a variety of venues around campus, from stadiums and auditoriums to bars and open green areas.  The records of some concerts fill more than one folder, while others may consist of only a page or two of material. The material includes such documents as contracts and riders, budgets, schedules, correspondence, and post event summaries.  The Other Events files span the years 1988-2001.  These events include tailgates, freshman mixers, senior un-mixers, drive-in movies and fun flicks—events which were repeated a few times over the course of several years. These are events that may have been replaced over the years—for example, the Freshman Mixer was folded in to New Student Week—and were less structured in nature.  The folders include documents such as schedules, budgets, and correspondence.    The files relating to the annual Pumpkin Prom date between 1987 and1995, although not every year's Prom is documented.  This annual event, a costume party that had music, food and fun activities, attracted a lot of students and was usually held on campus on or around October 31.  The folders include material such as schedules, contracts, correspondences, and post event summaries and reactions.

Additions (Posters):

The second addition consists of posters from A&O events from 1973-2012 and are filed in 3 boxes and 1 oversized folder.


  • 1968 - 2012


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on use of the materials in the department for research; all patrons must comply with federal copyright regulations.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored at a remote campus location and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.


39.00 Boxes

1 folder (1 oversized folder)

Language of Materials



The records of A&O Productions fill 39 boxes and 1 oversized folder, spanning the years 1970-2012. The bulk of the records consist of production records for the events organized during those years. A&O (Activities and Organizations) Productions is Northwestern University’s major student-run programming board. On the A&O website (March 14, 2003), the group defines itself as “a non-profit undergraduate student group at Northwestern University. …[The] mission is to enrich the lives of students, faculty and staff by providing unique large-scale programming events that appeal to the Northwestern community’s diverse tastes and interests. Such events have traditionally included concerts, speakers, comedians, and films. 

Arrangement Note

These files are primarily organized by event type, then chronologically within each type. The exception to this rule will be the A&O Film category, which is ordered alphabetically for the section with the movie titles.

Method of Acquisition

The records were donated to the University Archives on July 5, 2001 by Neil Shah of the A&O staff as Accession # 01–96. 

Additions: Donated to the University Archives on May 12, 2010 by Josh Wasserman of the A&O staff as Accession # 10-81.

Additions (Posters): Donated to the University Archives in 2012 as Accession #12-129.

Separated Materials

Three inches of duplicate and extraneous material were discarded. Photographs from the Meese/Biden Debate (January 23, 1990) and the B-52's performance at the February 6, 1993 A&O Ball were separated to the University Archives Photographic Collection and filed under A&O events.

In the addition, three and a half boxes of duplicate and extraneous material were discarded (mainly movie duplicates and financial repeats). Four photographs were also added to the University Archives Photograph Collection and filed under A&O Events.

Processing Information

Sue Peterson; March 21, 2003.

Reformatted by: Rachel C. Teuer; July 8, 2004.

Guide to the Records of A&O Productions
Sue Peterson and Ben Julia
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US