Jan 272015

Cover page of an 1882 newspaper entitled The Reveille

In honor of the Super Bowl being just around the corner, we thought we’d share this editorial from the 1882 Norwich student newspaper, the Reveille, extolling the virtues of the burgeoning sport known as football. Click here to read the whole editorial on our Digital Collections site (it starts in the bottom right corner of the page and continues to the next). Here’s a taste:

We believe in foot ball; we believe it ought to be encouraged; we believe the more vigorous, out door exercise a student takes the better it is for him and for the reputation of his college … and we earnestly trust that in the near future the cadets of this college many take a deeper interest in foot-ball and that ere long it may become one of the popular games of old.

It certainly has become one of the “popular games of old”! You’ll note that the sport is referred to interchangeably throughout the article as “football” and “rugby”–a vestige of the fact that American football evolved from rugby in its early years.

At the time that this article was written, football was in its extreme infancy; the first attempt to codify rules for collegiate play was in 1873, and the snap and the 11-man roster were introduced in 1880. 1882, the year of this editorial, saw the addition of the down and the use of yardage lines that made the field resemble a gridiron. It was this development that turned the corner and made football a significantly different sport from rugby.

Norwich would go on to play its first informal football game in 1890, and it formed an official team for the first time in 1893. We hope this snapshot of history has gotten you in the mood for the Super Bowl! A lot of folks here at Norwich will be rooting for our New England Patriots!

Information about the history of football from the Professional Football Researchers Association.

Jan 232015
Handwritten letter from 1776

Letter from Nathaniel Brown Dodge to his wife on July 4, 1776. We used this document to illustrate principles of preservation in our recent Personal Archiving workshop.

Earlier this month, Archives staff hosted a workshop on personal archiving as part of the University’s Staff Inservice Day. We had a really fun, curious group, and everyone learned a lot about how best to preserve their treasured family letters, photographs, scrapbooks, and other documents. We thought our blog readers might appreciate learning some of the same tips we shared in the workshop–in many cases, the solution is surprisingly simple!

  1. Store them in a stable environment. Extremes and fluctuations in temperature and humidity can damage paper and photographs. Avoid storing important documents in attics and basements and along exterior walls, which are also vulnerable to water damage. The ideal location is a closet on an interior wall in a climate-controlled area.
  2. Use opaque, acid-free containers. Clear plastic boxes leave heirlooms susceptible to permanent, irreversible light damage, and the acids found in paper, cardboard, and other materials can accelerate deterioration. An acid-free cardboard box with a secure lid is your best bet, and we also like to place documents inside acid-free folders. Some suppliers that professional archivists use for these materials include Hollinger Metal Edge, Gaylord, and University Products.
  3. Use copies and enclosures for display and handling. A high-quality digital scan of a special document or photograph can give you a beautiful reproduction to hang on your wall, while the original is safely stored away from light damage. Photographs are particularly vulnerable to skin oil damage and should be placed in archival enclosures and/or handled with gloves. Paper documents don’t require gloves for handling, but enclosures made of archivally safe plastics can help protect delicate items when they’re passed around at family reunions.
  4. Don’t do anything you can’t undo. This is the archivist’s mantra! Tape, glue, adhesive labels, pen markings, lamination, even rearranging the order of a photo album–you never know what your descendants are going to want to with your heirlooms, so make sure that they can always be returned to original condition if need be.

And those are the basics! Feel free to call, email, or stop by the University Archives if you have questions about how to handle your own personal archives!

Jan 092015

Of course we take history very seriously here in the University Archives, but every now and then, on of the perks of our jobs is having a good long chuckle at the historical facial hair we encounter. Perhaps the examples below will inspire the Norwich seniors who will soon be unfettered in their facial hair choices. Sometime soon we will do a post on the history of the “mustache privilege”!


John Quincy Adams McCallister, NU Class of 1853


Theodore Chardavoyne McIlwaine, NU Class of 1876


Theodore Chardavoyne McIlwaine, NU Class of 1876, later in life–clearly a lover of fashionable facial hair!

Dec 222014

Our University Archivist, Kelly, came across this wonderful holiday greeting in a recently donated collection that she is processing. It’s an example of V-Mail, the special postal system that ferried correspondence between World War II soldiers and their families by photographing the original letter and sending a miniaturized print back home. The sender, and we assume the illustrator, of this little note was Clifford Lippincott, a former Norwich University Registrar.

We hope you have a safe and happy season!



Dec 152014

We and our colleagues in the rest of the library building have been eagerly preparing for the upcoming renovations. In a moment of wonderful serendipity, today we came across this article from the 1908 Reveille, when the library had just moved into the brand new Carnegie Hall. We were tickled to note that the article mentions the creation of the University’s first-ever library catalog! Maybe this is a piece of history that only librarians will find exciting, but learning history is all about finding traces of yourself in the past. We hope you’ll visit us (we’re open during the renovation!) and discover how you are a part of the Norwich story!

Article from the 1908 Reville about the library's move to Carnegie Hall. Click to view in our Digital Collections.

Article from the 1908 Reville about the library’s move to Carnegie Hall. Click to view in our Digital Collections.

Dec 082014

We are very excited to be taking the Archives show on the road this week! Your friendly neighborhood archivist will be visiting the North Shore Alumni Club for a “History on the Road” event in Danvers, MA on Thursday, December 11th. There will be a short presentation as well as a show-and-tell display to enjoy while guests mix and mingle. You can read more about the evening and register to attend here.

The theme is Rook Books, so we’ve been busy reviewing our collection and picking out some gems to share with the group. If you won’t be able to join us, we hope that these images from our Digital Collections bring back fond memories of your own rook book:

Young men stand in line holding packages while studying booklets intently

Cadet recruits study their “rook books,” 1967

Young men stand in a line studying booklets intently

Cadet recruits study their “rook books,” 1967

Young man on crutches studies booklet

Injured cadet recruit studies his “rook book,” 1979

Dec 012014

We recently came across this fun little tidbit when looking through old Development Office records. It looks like in 1941, Norwich President John Thomas was accidentally sent a batch of stationery that listed his title as “Pre$ident” of the University, with a dollar sign replacing the “s.”

Image of a holiday greeting from University President John Thomas, which humorously addresses the accident with his letterhead.

Click to enlarge.

Not without a sense of humor, President Thomas used the botched letterhead to send out the holiday greeting pictured above, which was published in the Norwich Record, expressing this sentiment:

I think the Norwich men working with me on the Hill will not accuse me of being mercenary, and yet I plead guilty of being interested in the $ $ $ coming in to the University treasury. Almost every improvement we would like to make costs money…P.S. I am not going to waste those remaining $ letterheads.

Waste not, want not, Pre$ident Thomas!

Nov 112014

This week, your archivists are hard at work moving the bulk of the University’s rare book collection in preparation for the upcoming library renovation. Here’s a picture of our books on parade:

Metal carts loaded with books

Carts loaded with rare books ready to be moved into storage for the library renovation

All this handling is rough on the rare books, which is why it’s important that they be treated carefully when in use in the Reading Room. It made us think of this extremely funny video (embedded below), in which Rowan Atkinson’s Mr. Bean character does all the WRONG things in a rare book library–beginning, incidentally with wearing white gloves! Yes, contrary to popular belief, most archivists and rare book librarians will not ask you to wear gloves when handling books and paper documents. We hope you enjoy–and please don’t bring White Out or box cutters next time you pay us a visit!

Oct 312014

Norwich’s 5th annual Legacy March began yesterday. The staff of the University Archives wishes our marchers well on this crisp Halloween weekend!

What is now a fundraising event began in Alden Partridge’s days with the practice of the “pedestrian excursion.” Partridge conducted these regular marches not only as military exercises but as walking classrooms, teaching botany, geography, and many other topics as his cadets marched over the Vermont terrain.

Group of men in Revolutionary War garb poses with flags and muskets

Norwich participants in the 1975 bicentennial reenactment of Benedict Arnold’s march to Quebec. Click on the image to view in our Digital Collections.

Similar marches and reenactments have been popular at Norwich ever since. We hope you enjoyed our post this spring on the 1985 Fort Ticonderoga marchers. Another reenactment march that Norwich participated in took place in 1975 as part of the US Bicentennial celebration. Marchers traveled from Cambridge, Mass. to Quebec City in commemoration of Benedict Arnold’s 1775 march with the troops of the Continental Army.

Revolutionary War historical reenactors

Norwich participants in the 1975 bicentennial reenactment of Benedict Arnold’s march to Quebec. Click on the image to view in our Digital Collections.

If you visit the University Archives, you can read all about the march in the recently donated journal of a student who participated. We hope you’ll stop by!

Oct 212014

We hope you enjoyed our recent post about Professor Kate Donley’s students, who were tasked with creating social media accounts inspired by their research in the University Archives. This is a follow-up to announce that one of the alumni who was a topic of research, Clarence Vitty, can now be found on Twitter–we hope you’ll give him a read and a follow!

True to his interests while attending Norwich in the 1910s, Clarence is following accounts like Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity, NCAA Football, and the television show Glee. His tweets showcase a variety of great materials from his scrapbook, with a fun and unique twist. Congratulations to Professor Donley’s students for truly bringing history to life!