By Kylie Stamper
Social Media Editor
Trivia question: where on campus does the school keep a NASA collection, the original floorplans for Darbeth Fine Arts Center, old letter sweaters, scrapbooks, and countless other artifacts?
Answer: On the very top floor of Deets Library in the SC Archives.
The Southwestern College Archives house historical documents, important artifacts, and tons of information that pertain to the college’s 130-year history. The archive is basically like a museum for Southwestern.
The archive itself, although it is home to these important items, is in the process of undergoing a transformation. Not the kind of transformation that requires demolition and rebuilding rooms or structures, but a transformation on the digital side. The librarians at Deets Library have been working hard in order to transfer the items and documents in the SC Archives into an online database that was accessible to everybody beginning around Homecoming 2015.
As the school moves into the digital age, the librarians thought it was time to bring the archives up to speed.
The focus of the archives at this point is on historical importance. “We want things we might want to keep for future generations to understand what it was like to be a student here,” said Dalene McDonald, library director. “We have things like old sweaters, beanies, and ball gowns and we have marginally related things. We have a collection of things from NASA from an alum that made a donation so it’s sometimes a difficult decision about what to keep and what not to keep.” she said.
Early last year, the librarians began the process of transferring items, documents, and information to an online database that is accessible from the library’s home page http://deets.scklf.info/ (under SC Archives). The purpose of this switch is to make the archives more accessible for those who need the information without heavily damaging the items. McDonald said, “That’s our eventual goal is to provide that access indirectly.” Although the physical archive is not immediately accessible to just anybody, if a student is doing research they may contact McDonald to set up a supervised time to work in the archives.
“We’re trying to take something that’s been locked up in the dark and shed some light on it,” McDonald said, “We’re trying to provide these things to help provide a connection to the school.”
McDonald has been working with Marjorie Snyder, technical services librarian, Senta Sellers, reference and instruction librarian, and a handful of library techs to help get the online database up and running.
Snyder has done a lot of the background work of organizing the SC Archives so the items are ready to go online. She said, “The part that I have been working on is getting the stuff organized so that it can be viewed online and so that people can get interested in what we have to help us identify it. In an archive there are things of value and sometimes the people who know the value of it are no longer at SC so what we’re trying to do is to connect the stuff with the right people.”
The librarians are also in the process of adding digitized versions of the school newspapers dating back to 1895 through the 1970s. The online database will also host past yearbooks on the separate site called Biblioboard.
In addition to artifacts, newspapers, and old documents and records, the database will also provide access to special collections donated by SC alum. A couple of the most recent collections came from Billie Day and Lucille Campbell. The Billie Day collection houses pictures and documents from her time at Southwestern. Day graduated in 1960 and was inducted into the Leaders in Service Hall of Fame for the Social Sciences in 2010.
Campbell’s collection will be accessible in the near future. Campbell is fighting a major oil refinery in Neodesha because of the effects the site is having on local water and pollution levels. Campbell was interviewed by Snyder and Jessica Arnoldy, biochemistry senior, in December and her documents were collected and scanned to be uploaded to the database.
McDonald said, “[The reason we are including her collection is that] she credits Southwestern with giving her the courage and self-confidence to take on the battle that she’s taking on. We thought that was an important thing to keep in our archives; that someone who went here felt empowered to go out and take on this fight with the big oil companies. We’re interested in things like that, so if anyone out in the community who went to Southwestern or any current students have some cool things they are working on we would like to know about it because we would like to capture that.”
“[The archives are] meant to enrich everyone’s experience of Southwestern, so it doesn’t get lost,” Snyder said, “Our past has made the college what it is. It helps us understand why we have certain clubs or why we don’t have others. The college isn’t just a place, it’s the people that go there.”
In order to better preserve the rich history of Southwestern, the archive needs more in it. The librarians will accept most items after a process of filling out forms and doing background searches. Items in the archive now include a marching band hat with a plume with real feathers, tissue paper dolls from the 1920s, a small leather commencement brochure from 1921, books, club scrapbooks, student papers and thesis papers, clippings from old newspapers, a ball gown, the shovel used for Darbeth’s groundbreaking, architectural plans for Darbeth, war medals, Southwestern medals and pins, and a NASA collection.
If any current SC students or SC alum have items to donate or information regarding documents or items, they can contact Dalene McDonald at Dalene.McDonald@sckans.edu or Marjorie Snyder at Marjorie.Snyder@sckans.edu.
Kylie Stamper is a junior majoring in communication. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.