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Archive Artifacts Include School Charter

By Rui Zhong Posted: 02/20/2012
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The paper that started it all sits behind a glass display case on the 10th floor of Woodruff Library. Next to the copy of Emory’s 1836 charter is a stunning view of the campus itself, a reminder of what these words built.

Emory’s charter and other important University documents can be found within the exhibit entitled “Past Meets Present: Highlights from the Emory University Archives Collections.”

This exhibition, which runs from Feb. 1 though June 30, offers a fresh glimpse into the University’s considerable history. Located in Emory’s Manuscript and Rare Books Library (MARBL), the exhibition includes objects and documents from Emory’s earliest days.

Within this sampling of the archives, visitors can discover 19th century textbooks and photographs that trace paths across academic and student lives. In one display case are the suit and shoes worn by Emory’s skeletal mascot, Dooley, in his 1950s incarnation.

“One purpose of this collection is to highlight the role of the University Archives,” curator Kate Jarvis said. “It documents how teaching, research, administration and student life at Emory have changed over time.”

The collection highlights documents and information from administrative and student groups at various points in time. A book of faculty minutes is propped open, describing a 19th century scuffle of a student who tried to settle an argument “with a club in his hand and a pistol in his bosom.”

Right next to the book of faculty minutes is a student essay on morality and the evils of intemperance.

“These records humanize the past,” Jarvis commented. “One of the valuable things about the archive is that our past informs us about the present.”

Just as they do now, teenagers from centuries ago struggled at first to settle into the Emory community.

According to Jarvis, Emory is still making history. The University Archives continue to collect documents from student organizations, academic departments and University administration offices across campus. Nowadays, the Archives are incorporating electronic information such as blogs and web pages.

“The way we keep [our information] changes,” Jarvis explained. “But the reason we collect it continues.”

— Contact Rui Zhong.

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