In 2019, with initial preparations for Virginia Tech’s sesquicentennial underway, University Libraries Special Collections and University Archives Director Aaron Purcell and archivists LM Rozema, Anthony Wright de Hernandez, and John M. Jackson came up with an idea to create something unique — to let photos tell the story of Virginia Tech’s history.

“We began working with Virginia Tech Publishing, which is a part of University Libraries, and then we started talking to other people on campus,” Purcell said. “There was just a lot of interest in this project. So we kind of came up with it in-house.”

A collage of images representing moments large and small from Virginia Tech's history.

The book, entitled “No Ordinary Moment: Virginia Tech, 150 years in 150 Images,” is a photographic journey into the known history of Virginia Tech and some of the lesser-known moments and achievements that shaped the university. The phrase “no ordinary moment,” from Governor Gilbert C. Walker’s address during Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College’s first commencement ceremony in 1873, serves as an ideal theme.

The authors focused on different topics, chose photos for their section and wrote the captions. Purcell wrote the introduction and outlined the areas covered within the book. Jackson focused on Virginia Tech’s land-grant mission, while Wright de Hernandez highlighted previously marginalized students and campus groups.  Rozema’s role centered on innovation’s role at the university.

“We really wanted to highlight student activities, student groups that haven’t really gotten the attention,” Purcell said. “People just aren’t aware of a lot of things that have gone on at the school that show the diversity and the fact that it is continuing to change and is continuing to represent a wider range of perspectives and voices. I think people will see that.”

Virginia Tech Publishing, housed in University Libraries, shepherded the book from idea to finished product. It is the first Virginia Tech Publishing book published specifically for print. Copies can be purchased from the University Bookstore as well as from other online and brick-and-mortar retailers. In keeping with the University Libraries' and Virginia Tech Publishing’s commitment to ensure access to information, “No Ordinary Moment” is also freely available online as a pdf download.

The cover of "No Ordinary Moment: Virginia Tech, 150 Years in 150 Images."

Proceeds from printed book sales will help fund future work and preservation by Special Collections and University Archives.