Smith Archives in 2010

December 22, 2010

We’ve had a banner calendar year here in the Smith College Archives!

Our class presentations have expanded to include many new First Year Seminars, as well as our ‘standard’ classes in such departments as American Studies, Exercise, Sport Studies, History, Sexuality & Gender, Landscape Studies, Art History/Studio Arts, Geology–to name a few.  There are also quite a few other classes that use our materials, but in a more ‘stealth-like’ manner: we often see a group of students come in on their own, and after some quizzing, we realize that their professor has sent them on an independent mission to ‘see what’s in the Archives.’   While we feel more interaction with the faculty member and the Archives staff could benefit the students more, we’re glad they are coming to the Archives on their own!

This year we decided to focus on reaching out on the web a bit more with a number of web exhibits, including a celebration of the William A. Neilson Library (our parent Library), a history of the Black Student Alliance student organization, an exhibit on Molly Rogers, Class of 1905 who founded the order of Maryknoll Sisters, and an audio piece of President L. Clark Seelye reading from the book of Psalms.  More exhibits are in the making–so check the site regularly!

Ongoing projects, like Smithipedia, made strides with student researchers adding to our growing collection of on-line resources for Smith history.  We celebrated, along with the Josten Performing Arts Library, the publication of ‘new’ songs of composer John Duke, who taught at Smith between 1923-1967.  The College Archives presented a slide show before the annual Otelia Cromwell Day celebration on women of color at Smith.  We continue to work with students and faculty in the Global STRIDE Fellowship program to bring the historic connections between Smith and the world alive.  Just recently, we met with a group of emeriti faculty members who are wondering just how they are going to weed out their professional files.  Many questions and surprises await all of us in that regard!

We made a number of special presentations, including talks at the First Year “Smith By Design” Orientation program, the Bridge program, and Rally Day–all were a hit.  Our scheduled tea talks took place in a number of houses we had never been to before, as well as some ‘oldies but goodies.’  We also spoke with the Archives Concentration students, a Learning In Retirement group, and an archives class from the Simmons College Graduate School of Information and Library Science about the archives profession and the collections in our care.

Independent studies on women in the Philadelphia area who came to Smith and their influence back home after graduation; and the history of lesbian and transgender students took top billing this semester.  Last spring, a student thesis on the history of Smith College’s sustainability efforts over time kept us hopping!  Many of the sessions at the 2010 Collaborations celebration featured work completed by students in the College Archives.

These projects, in addition to our standard reference services (both on-site and via email),  orders for photographic reproductions, media reformatting, and donor relations keeps the staff in the Smith College Archives busy! Oh yes–and we work with the College offices too, supplying folders and boxes for materials that come to the Archives; hands-on visits in support of work done by the administrative assistants;  retrieving and making available files for offices, at their request.   With major building renovations this summer, we fielded many calls from offices that needed to relocate for the summer and then relocate either back to their original location or to other places on campus.

I’m glad that when we go home at night, all of us in the Archives are tired.  It means that we continue to do a good job; we expose more and more people to the possibilities in the Archives, and they provide us with more information about what we have in the thousands of linear feet of our holdings.

All of us in the Smith College Archives, Debbie, Susan, Leslie and Nanci wish you a restful end-of-the-year, and we look forward to bringing more news about the history of Smith in future blog entries in 2011!