Monday, December 14, 2015

Samuel L. Conwell

Written by Dan DelViscio

When an archivist comes to a new archive there’s always growing pains getting familiar with the contents of the archive. Being able to answer questions about the archive, knowing the prominent people, knowing the organizations, and knowing how and why the archive came to be. But the one thing that’s always fun about working in a new archive is finding cool things like this. 

This is an excerpt from a day book of the early Delaware State University. One name that comes up in the book is Samuel L. Conwell. Conwell was the assistant to the first president of DSU, President Wesley. P Webb. He was also a faculty member from 1891-1914. The book details Sunday church services at DSU, which at the time was the State College for Colored Students. Now this may seem mundane but to an archivist like me getting a little window into what peoples’ lives were like back in history is pretty great. The book details Sunday services including the hymns they sung in church, the attendance, sermons notes, even the total offering collected. These little details tell us what life at the college was like at its early beginnings. I can also attest that trying to decipher hand writing from the early 1900s is both a frustrating and rewarding feat.   

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