Special Collections and University Archives

by Audrey Sage

The Special Collections and University Archives continues to build their collections, strategically investing and acquiring significant, unique and interesting items.  These collections further the interest of the University as scholars, researchers and patrons seek discoverable information that furthers their knowledge and understanding of both the past and the future.  Occasionally, items acquired are in sizes that are less common.  We have recently acquired several very small items that presented us with an opportunity to construct thoughtful and intentional enclosures.  Many times, smaller items require a larger enclosure so it may claim it’s space on the shelf, and not be overshadowed or overwhelmed by its neighbors.

 I selected an interesting artist book titled “Trains” by Kathy and Gary Miller of Iron Bear Press to create a unique enclosure. The book measures 2.875” x 1.75” x .25”, that includes its own paper slipcover that is imprinted with images of railway lines.  It has beautiful polaroid photo transfers and is constructed in an accordion style format. The story speaks of memories of watching trains, counting cars and pressing pennies on the tracks, which resonated with me, as this is a very fond memory of my own, when visiting my grandmother’s house when I was young.  I designed a special clamshell enclosure for this small volume.  I created a drawer, into which the book can rest and remain secure, until it is retrieved for viewing. The overall dimensions of the enclosure are 6” x 9” x 1”.

Our manuscripts archivist, Stacey Krim, discovered an oversized match book while recently processing the Marjorie “Marge” Burns Papers. The question was raised regarding the safety of storing a potentially combustible item within a collection.  While researching options and opinions, she discovered one solution that was implemented at Smithsonian Institute Archives whereby a sink mat was created to surround the matchbook and enclosed with mylar.  I decided to create a similar enclosure.  By utilizing the mylar, any potential friction would be minimized, thus limiting combustion of the match heads, although there is the theory that in many cases, match books of this age are most likely inert.  This item will be stored in a file, so I created a two-sided mat, wherein both sides of the match book are visible. On one side of the construction, the Mylar is tucked under the corrugated board, allowing it to be lifted, if there is need to temporarily remove the match book.

Beth Ann Koelsch, curator for the Women Veterans Historical Project, was thrilled to acquire the 1943 diary of Charlotte E. Ward, of Delaware, Indiana. Ms. Ward served with the United States Army Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) and then the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) from 1943-1945. This small diary measures a little over 4” x 3” with a handy spot to store a small pencil.  I designed an oversized enclosure, through consultation with the curator, so it would measure 8” x 11”, a substantial size in order to happily rest between its collection mates on the shelf. The diary rests in a custom fit recess with a board overlay to hold it in place.  This recess can be lifted to allow easy access for retrieval of the diary.

It is always delightful to view and enjoy the various treasures from the SCUA collections.  Preserving and caring for these is gratifying knowing these endeavors will serve those far into the future.

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