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!

Oct 072014

With Family Weekend arriving, we’re feeling another opportunity to reflect on a favorite theme of so many collections of the Norwich University Archives … that our students (and their families!) remain in some essential ways very similar to their counterparts from over a hundred years ago.

Our Digital Collections now includes several examples of letters between young cadets and their parents from the 1820s to 1850s. A particular favorite to check out is Samuel Pitkin, whose detailed messages to his mother, father, and sister included drawings and news for “no one excepting our family.”

Letter from Samuel Pitkin  -- "To be seen and read by no one excepting our family" -- to his mother, 13 July 1822

Letter from Samuel Pitkin — “To be seen and read by no one excepting our family” — to his mother, 13 July 1822 (click on the image to view in our Digital Collections)

Other early NU families to discover include parents and relatives of James Ashton HallEdward CrowellEdward Kelleran HarrisGeorge Olcott, and Elijah Kent Hubbard. When our students read these letters, they often find that the sentiments and experiences are surprisingly similar to their own. We think their parents would likely say the same!

As a bonus example–and one that we hope is not quite as applicable to modern families–here’s a quote from a father’s letter to Alden Partridge that often gets heads nodding and people smiling:

My son whom I intend to send to your school is now at home … he is lazy, I depend on you to break him of that – he is tall and crooked, straighten him …
– David Porter, 2 September 1820

Curious to know how much has (or has not) changed over the last 200 years? Check out some of these letters and let us know if any of their concerns or complaints sound familiar.

The University Archives will be open from 1:00 – 6:00 PM on Thursday and Friday of Family Weekend. We are here to serve the entire Norwich community, and we hope that the parents and families will take the time to become as engaged as their students are in the Norwich story!

Oct 022014
Young people blowing up balloons

Norwich men and their dates prepare for Regimental Ball Weekend, 1967. Click on the image to view in our Digital Collections.

We hope everyone’s getting excited for this weekend’s big event! The first Regimental Ball was held in March of 1960 (the event was moved to the fall in 1964 to spread it out from Winter Carnival and Ring Weekend). The timing coincided with the end of fraternities on campus, and there is some speculation that the hot new addition to the social calendar was intended to compensate for that vacancy.

Newspaper page with photos of college dance

Guidon coverage of the first Regimental Ball, 1960 (click to enlarge)

Coverage in the Guidon declared the first Regimental Ball a great success. Miss Marilyn Adams of “Colby Jr.” (now Colby-Sawyer College) was crowned Queen, and over 900 attendees from Norwich and surrounding colleges danced the night away in Plumley Armory. Check out those ballgowns!

Close up of newspaper page showing photo of dance queen being crowned

General Harmon congratulates Miss Marilyn Adams on being crowned Queen of the first Regimental Ball, 1960 (click to enlarge)

The University Archives staff wishes everyone a fun and safe weekend!

Sep 302014

Fall 2014 is shaping up to be our busiest semester ever for archival instruction! Norwich professors across a wide range of departments have been working with us to enrich their courses with primary source research and hands-on exercises using the historical materials available in the University Archives.

Students in Kate Donley's English 101 class consider how to transform the contents of Clarence Vitty's scrapbook into a modern social media product.

Students in Kate Donley’s English 101 class consider how to transform the contents of Clarence Vitty’s scrapbook into a modern social media product.

We couldn’t resist sharing about the freshman English class we taught last week with Professor Kate Donley, since it’s so relevant to what we’re doing here on our Archives blog. Students took a close look at a collection of historical documents belonging to a Norwich alum or affiliate, and they have been charged with creating a modern social media product (a blog, a Facebook page, a Tumblr account, etc.) that interprets the historical content and provides a snapshot of the person’s life.

Life at a WWII field hospital as documented by former NU doctor Edgar Hyde. Dr. Hyde's collection is among those that Professor Donley's students will be re-interpreting with social media.

Life at a WWII field hospital as documented by former NU doctor Edgar Hyde. Dr. Hyde’s collection is among those that Professor Donley’s students will be re-interpreting with social media.

Working in groups, the students looked at notable figures like Medal of Honor winner James Burt and Edgar Hyde, whose great collection of photo negatives documents his time spent running a field hospital in France during WWII. We can’t wait to see how Professor Donley’s students create contemporary interpretations of these materials. It’s a great reminder that history is truly still alive–and that we ourselves are creating history every day!

Sep 242014

People often ask us about the oldest book in the library. But did you ever wonder about the library’s smallest book? That honor goes to an 1837 edition of Night Thoughts by Edward Young, measuring 3.5 inches high and just 2.5 inches wide!

Miniature book with a ruler for size comparison

Night Thoughts by Edward Young, the smallest book in Norwich’s rare book collection

Books this size are considered “miniatures,” and we have a whole shelving section devoted to them in the University’s rare book collection. It’s amazing to think that this tiny print was set by hand using minuscule hand-carved letter blocks!

Shelves full of miniature books

The University’s collection of rare miniature books

Night Thoughts is a long-form poem that was originally published in nine parts from 1742 to 1745. World War I soldier Edmund Blunden wrote in his memoir that the poem was “a source of comfort during time in the trenches.” Perhaps he carried a miniature edition just like ours in his pocket.

It’s true, great things really do come in small packages!