Research Files: The Founder’s Gate/West Gate

Guest posted by Melissa Mariotti

IWU West Gate. Found on IWU Website.

IWU West Gate. Photo copied from IWU Website.

As most students and faculty know, there are several main entrances into Wesleyan’s campuses. There is the North entrance on Franklin Avenue, the South entrance by Empire Street, the East entrance by Park Street, and the West entrance by Main Street. There is not much known about the latter entrance. It stands between Pfieffer and Gulick Halls and bears the inscription:

“We stand in a position of incalculable responsibility to the great wave of population overspreading the valley of the Mississippi. Destiny seems to point out this valley as the depository of great heart of the Nation. From this center mighty pulsations, for good or evil, must in future flow, which shall not only affect the fortunes of the Republic but reach in their influence other and distant Nations of the earth.”

The West Gates, looking north toward the Women’s Dormitory. From a 1931 booklet of pen sketches of Illinois Wesleyan University.

The West Gates, looking north toward the Women’s Dormitory. From a 1931 booklet of pen sketches of Illinois Wesleyan University; RG 4-16/2/4.

Upon further research, it was discovered that the gates were ”erected and presented to the school by the Bloomington Association of Commerce in 1921” (Founders’ Day Convocation, 2006). There are two differing theories about where this quote came from. According to the 1960 Wesleyana, it is “an excerpt from the report on education to the annual meeting of the Illinois Conference held in Springfield in 1854.” But according to an Argus article from February 13th, 1940, it was said on December 18th, 1850 from the “Conference Record.”

The quote was verified in the Methodist Conference Record of 1854 by the archives that holds those documents: The Illinois Great Rivers Conference Archives at MacMurray College, Jacksonville, Illinois. There is more to the quote than was summarized on our West Gates, but the spirit of the passage resonates just as much today as it did for our Founders.

Students around the West Gate in 1951. From the 1951 Wesleyana.

Students around the West Gate in 1951. From the 1951 Wesleyana.

The quote that is inscribed on the gate is said to represent “the ‘incalculable responsibility’ the founders of Illinois Wesleyan felt in the work they had undertaken” in establishing Illinois Wesleyan as an “institution of learning” (President Wilson, Founder’s Day Convocation Remarks, 2006). It describes the passion that the Founder’s had for teaching and learning, along with the many obstacles they had to face into creating the school. This inscription is referenced many times during Founder’s Day Convocations, and is evident in the care and consideration of all who work to sustain and advance that goal today.

 

Save Your Stuff!

Memories and treasures should last a lifetime and be passed on to future generations. The first national collections Preservation Week, “Pass It On!”, is taking place May 9-15, 2010.

The American Library Association and partners that include the Library of Congress, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The American Institute for Conservation, Heritage Preservation, and the Society of American Archivists, are promoting Preservation Week to highlight collections of all kinds, and suggest simple steps to help you make sure your treasures and memories last a lifetime and are passed on to future generations.

What can you do?

1. Take a look around your home or wherever you store the mementos of your life and the lives of people who are important to you. Is a lot of it in long-term storage? Is the storage room subject to temperature and humidity fluctuation?

TIP: You don’t need to have cold storage to make paper and print photographic collections last. Constant levels of each are the most important thing. 70 degrees F is the upper recommended limit, but keeping spaces well-ventilated and preventing frequent fluctuation can help your stuff go a long way into the future.

2. Is your stuff sitting on the ground? Try putting a pallet underneath boxes or raising them 4-6 inches off the floor with something else.

3. Avoid stacking boxes directly on each other if at all possible. Open shelving is optimal: leaving space on all sides of stored material promotes air circulation and limits the chance that mold will develop.

4. Is your stuff digital? Do you back up your hard drive or use a commercial company for online storage? If you’ve got a back up hard drive, is it located near your primary digital storage place? Explore ways to back up your important files and keep them in a separate location to lessen the chance for loss if there’s a fire or natural disaster in your area.

5. Is your digital stuff labeled? File names like DSC7723, DSC7724, and so on can accumulate faster than you think. After awhile, how will you know what you are saving?

TIP: At a minimum, make folders with event names and dates to store photos in or create an index that associates this information with the program-generated file names.

6. Are your physical collections falling apart? Books, photo albums, scrapbooks and textiles need attention if they are to last. Taking photos out of old albums whose adhesives are failing and making sure they’re labeled is a good start. Some books may be rebound, but many will survive well into the future in a box or wrapper designed for them. Photocopying or scanning newspaper clippings can preserve their information without worrying about deterioration due to typically acidic scrapbook pages and/or newspaper itself.

TIP: Don’t seal anything in a plastic bag! Condensation forms quickly in plastic and promotes mold.

If you have concerns about any of your personal collections, I’m happy to talk with you about them. Use Preservation Week as a time to take stock of what you’re keeping, why it’s important to you and how you can act in ways that will keep your stuff safe for years to come!

Note: more ideas are available in one of my previous blog posts