The Archives: Preserving WC History

By Jilly Horaneck
Elm Staff Writer

From April 23 to 28, Washington College took part in National Archive Preservation Week, a celebration hosted by the American Library Association. On Friday, April 28, the WC Archives hosted an open house from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., holding tours, showing off new acquisitions, and teaching about the preservation of rare artifacts and treasures.

Heather Calloway, archives and special collections librarian and assistant professor, said, “We use the week to connect our communities through events and resources that highlight what we can do to preserve our personal and shared collections.”

To celebrate, WC highlighted a few of the pieces in the College’s collection.

The national celebration first started in 2005 after the first comprehensive national survey of the condition and preservation needs of the nation’s collections. The collections held more than 4.8 billion items, according to the American Library Association. 68 percent of these items are held in libraries. These items include books, manuscripts, photographs, prints, drawings, maps, paintings, and more.

Even with so many items in archives across the country, 80 percent of these institutions have no one assigned to take care of them, and 22 percent of libraries have no one taking care of them. Out of the 4.8 billion items, 2.6 billion are not protected by emergency plans.

At WC’s event, students could get a behind-the-scenes view of the College’s history, and were able to hold a personal book of Alexander Hamilton, the first treasurer of the U.S. and friend of George Washington.

Archives_history talks_Zastrow_edit“The archives are important to share with the WC students because it houses the history of the College, as well as the College’s most unique and valuable artifacts,” Calloway said.

She hopes the exhibit will bring to light t the rare materials that are at risk and to, “make sure that these primary resources are here for future generations.”

Throughout the week, people brought things to add to the College’s collections.

“I enjoy the new donations that arrive to our collection through our advocacy and awareness campaigns.”

Calloway believes the archives give undergraduate students special opportunities to work with the College’s unique collections on a regular basis.

“For those that don’t know about us, we hope that events like this will introduce new students, faculty, and staff to the archives and special collections,” Calloway said.

To learn more about preservation week, visit The WC Archives are located on the first floor of Miller Library.

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