Check out this compilation of sources in a timeline of the currently known events in IWU’s multicultural history.*
Back in March, as life across the world and at IWU’s campus changed dramatically, I sent out an open call to the IWU community, inviting reflections on their lives in this pandemic era.
An exhibit with contributions from 15 students is now available. I also added content from IWU’s webpages and made a personal contribution to the exhibit as a way of breaking the ice.
Students were given an option to answer as many of a set of pre-determined questions (see below) as they wanted to. They were also given the option of remaining anonymous online with the understanding that their identity would be associated with their remarks in the archives’ offline files.
Additions to this collection are welcome, and anyone who wants to keep their reflections offline may still participate. Participants may use the questions below if they’d like some ideas on how to start, but truly any way that people are comfortable expressing themselves for sharing their experiences is fine. Visit the project description for details or contact me (email@example.com) if you have questions.
[Questions on student submission form]
Name (indicate if anonymity online is desired)
Where are you living during the Pandemic of 2020?
How did you feel when you were informed the remainder of the semester would be held online?
What has been your experience with moving classes online?
If applicable, tell us a little about your thoughts and reactions to moving off campus or out of town.
How are you staying connected to your friends and wider community, through IWU or elsewhere?
How has the virus or the precautions taken to prevent it spreading impacted your daily life?
What is giving you hope and/or strength right now?
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about what you’re feeling or experiencing right now?
Share a photo of yourself, or any photos, videos, or audio recordings you’d like to add to this historical record!
Earlier this summer, University Librarian Scott Walter posted news on the start of Cynthia O’Neill’s graduate school internship.As Scott stated, we view the library as “the site for research, internships, and community projects that demonstrate our commitment to engaged learning, both for our undergraduate students and for graduate students working toward a future in library work.”
During her 150 hours in Tate Archives & Special Collections, Cynthia accomplished her internship goal of putting classroom experiences to work in a real-world environment.
The largest project Cynthia undertook was conducting a preservation assessment of the media contained in the Leslie Arends Congressional Collection. She also created a framework of analysis for Special Collections Student Assistant Tulasi Jaladi (’20) as she conducted an assessment of the papers held in over 5,000 folders in this collection. Tulasi also re-boxed the collection, replacing from 80 records-storage boxes that had become acidic over time with the smaller document boxes you see on the left in their photo.
Throughout this work Cynthia and I discussed the kinds of preservation analysis resources available and how these sources could apply to the work at hand. The result of Cynthia and Tulasi’s work will guide me to the specific parts the collection, some of which is over 80 years old, that need preservation treatments. Most of the paper (the bulk of the collection) is in good condition, but the audiovisual content on older media (like 35mm film and reel-to-reel tapes) is quickly becoming inaccessible because the technology needed to play it is no longer widely available. Some of these recordings are also showing tangible signs of age-related damage. With these details, I will estimate costs of the preservation actions needed.
Cynthia’s experiences in both a museum and public library led us to interesting cross-institutional discussions about policy needs, patron types and research and staffing concerns. Her passion for material culture also resulted in a timely exhibition on the Apollo 11 moon landing. Cynthia proposed the idea based on her survey of the Congressman’s collection, which contains additional material on the Apollo program. She also reached out to a museum in the region to make a connection between us for a larger exhibition she knows they are doing in the fall. I appreciate having the opportunity to collaborate outside of academia!
The processing project Cynthia undertook for a recent donation by artist and alumna Marjorie Kouns (’79) was small enough—and had enough unique aspects to it—that we were able to dive into theory vs. practice discussions right away. There was so much variation in this personal “papers” type of collection that we could consider strategies for different types of arrangement.
Afterwards, Cynthia conducted a thorough assessment of materials and presented me with her observations and ideas about their organization and preservation needs. After I approved a final arrangement plan, I taught her how to use ArchivesSpace to make a record for the collection. To enhance our understanding of this artist’s work, Cynthia agreed to conduct an oral history interview with the donor.
One day I mentioned receiving a fairly typical-to-the-archives donation from a long-time staff member who just retired. I outlined how this would be a different collection from the artist’s. On her own initiative, Cynthia offered to assess and process this material. She readily made the transition from the concepts we discussed about arrangement for a personal collection to a professional one.
To enhance her understanding of book history, Cynthia capped off her experience by creating a tutorial on historical book construction techniques and their preservation needs. She used selections from Special Collections to provide examples of these works, and so we now have a resource to help prepare visitors about what they can expect to find in special collections, how book history relates to these specific items, and how they can interact with them to help preserve them for the future.
In an earlier post we sketched out known histories of a variety of buildings on campus, including early residence locations for students. This time we have an intriguing new piece of knowledge about student life thanks to a new donation: a gold pocket watch.
The granddaughter of Reverend John Perry Edgar, Class of 1893, gave the university his watch and an inscription in that gift led me to an interesting finding. The inscription reads “Presented by Edgar Club, IWU, 1893.” The owner of the watch was the Club’s founder and its purpose was to provide students with room and board.
An article describing the Club says it was formed in 1889 with 22 men enrolled as members. In 1891 the group held a “unanimous vote that ladies be admitted.”
This seems shocking, at first glance. Men and women boarding together in the 19th century? The article continues with descriptions of the benefit of such an arrangement: providing suitable company at “the dinner table [where] character is developed, courteous behavior and polished manners reign.”
The official word from the University was that young women should board at Henrietta Hall, a residence run by the Women’s Education Association from 1874-1892, but the same publication also acknowledged the existence of the privately run clubs.
But what about the rooms? The details with regard to the descriptions provided by the clubs seem ambiguous but the 1895 IWU Catalogue of Courses is quite clear:
With the closure of Henrietta Hall,* rooming took place in private homes of “suitable” families but boarding with clubs continued for at least a few years after Edgar left and two (Bundy and Ross) credited him as the originator of the idea.
But back to the watch…it still keeps time well and both covers are etched but worn down with use. Still, the designs are visible: on one side are the initials JPE and on the other is a building. In this enlarged and enhanced image, it looks like Old North, which was built in 1856 and so was the first building on our campus. Edgar would also have had classes in Old Main, erected in 1870. Next time you’re on the 4th floor, stop by the archives to check out this “new” addition!
*After Henrietta closed it wasn’t until 1956 that a dorm for women opened again. That was known as “Southwest Hall” and was operated by the Women’s Guild of IWU until it became a co-ed dorm–IWU’s first–in 1976. That’s also when it was renamed for benefactor Anna Gulick, a name it carries today.
An exhibit currently on display in The Ames Library (in two cases, near the patio on the entry level) includes photos and written accounts by IWU faculty and students during World War I. These materials and much more are held in the University Archives.
Of particular interest in this exhibit are contributions from students in Professor Jim Matthews’ Fall 2016 FREN 301: Oral Communication class. In a recent conversation with Dr. Matthews, I mentioned that three French women joined students at IWU in the fall of 1918 and Matthews asked his students to learn more about the experiences of these women in the U.S. and respond in French; they contributed English translations for the benefit of visitors to the library’s exhibit.
Dr. Matthews and his students discovered several interesting things about the lives of these women in Central Illinois and beyond. Stop by the library before the end of the month or visit th archives anytime!
This recent addition to the archives offers an opportunity to introduce the campus to a trend in the archives world called re-photography.
Re-photography involves re-enacting a scene from an earlier period in time by recreating it in a modern context. This is done in at least two ways: by deliberate restaging or reenactment without any variation such as is illustrated here, or by using an old photo for inspiration to create something with a modern twist.
We are illustrating the first case with the 1960 photo (above). It was donated to the archives recently and arrived with an article about planting the nascent rubber tree in Holmes Hall (see this Fall 2007 IWU Magazine story for more on the plant). Last summer Archives Student Assistant Melissa Mariotti (right) posed for a re-shoot in the same spot so it is possible to see how different the same location looks today. (Photo credit: Megan Dickey)
The second way we’ve seen this done is by offering a new interpretation of an old scene that isn’t dependent on the specific location. Anyone can try this out by looking up old photos such as the ones added below. Over 1400 historical IWU photos, scanned from among the many thousands held in the University Archives, are available at http://tinyurl.com/iwu-historical.
Make your mark on IWU history…re-make an old scene in your own way today!
Memorial Day seems like a good time to highlight military-related documents held at IWU. Students, alumni, faculty and administrators have served in all U.S. wars since IWU’s founding. Diaries, correspondence, service records and recollections are held in both our archives and special collections.
Examples of these documents include service applications of the WWII-era Nurse’s Cadet Corps, alumni responses to a post-WWII survey of activities, correspondence from WWII soldiers to IWU student Nell Carmichael, correspondence and sketches from alumnus and Professor of Art Fred Brain to his family during WWII, index of WWI veterans plus photocopied clippings of articles related to their service, Nursing Superintendent Maude Essig’s WWI diary, and administrative meeting notes and student reporting on war-related activities on campus and abroad.
We lack significant documentation on the WWII-era S.A.T.C. and welcome donations related to this group’s purpose and activities on campus. Some dilligent researcher’s eyes may uncover details on this and other student groups’ efforts in existing documentation, and all our records are open and available for that work. Leave a reply (below) to contact me about arranging a visit!