Friday, July 29, 2016

Archives Adventure: Eeek! Spiders!

Written by Joy Scherry

We crossed the threshold between the student recreation areas and the dank, dark corridors of the building’s underbelly.  Our noses were instantly assaulted by the pungent, stale air as our eyes grew accustomed to the dim, yellow-tinged light of the passageway.  As my colleagues surveyed the corners of the cavernous room into which we had entered, I moved forward into a passageway of shadowy doors.  Pausing outside the first door, I gathered breath, threw open the door, and fumbled for the light.

As the light overhead blinked to life, at first, I saw what I thought was a small room or large closet full of documents housed in cardboard bankers boxes.  But oh the horror! As I stepped further into the room, I realized that it was actually a very long, narrow room stuffed with records.   Metal shelving extended from the floor to the ceiling and separated the room into two aisles.  Some the boxes had long since disintegrated, their contents spilling out and across the concrete floor. Here and there vintage Wendy's cups and Pepsi cans with expiration dates from the 1990's littered the room. Evidence of student trespass or employee hideouts? It was as if someone had closed the door in 1995 and completely forgotten the room's existence. 

For several weeks I had been touring the DSU campus as a member of the #GOTPAPER committee hosted by the Office of Enterprise Risk Management.  We were on a mission to “de-clutter” campus closets and basements by ridding them of superfluous paperwork now past the date to which the university was legally required to retain it.  My contribution to the project was to offer consultation regarding the informational value of records and their appropriateness for the university archives.

I am pleased to say the mission was successful!  This week trucks with giant shredders arrived on campus to destroy and haul away the unnecessary records.  Additionally, the archives has accessioned approximately 34 boxes of materials as a result of the de-cluttering.  So far the known treasures include a 1987 yearbook, photographs of university athletics, records of buildings that no longer exist, and best of all, course catalogs dated between 1896 and 1940!  As I process the boxes more fully, I hope to unearth other fantastic finds!

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Welcome New Students!

Written by Joy Scherry

We, the faculty and staff of DSU, are excited to welcome you, the incoming students, to Delaware State University!  Most of you have completed the New Student Orientation and we hope that your visit to campus has inspired you to be even more excited about joining our community. If you missed the June NSO it’s not too late! Register today for the last session on August 22.

College Orientation is a time-honored tradition for nearly every American college and university, and DSU is no exception. To prove it, I selected a 1957 Freshman Orientation Program booklet from the university archives.  I had recently heard a story from an alumnus who recalled that his parents put him and all his belongings on a public bus bound for Dover.  Apparently at that time in the 1980’s parents played an inactive role in orientation whereas today, many parents choose to accompany their teenager.  I was therefore curious to see how orientation had developed over time.  

Looking through the 1957 orientation program, I realized that orientation was a week-long affair in which students were required to undergo many more examinations than is currently expected.  Such exams included a physical fitness index exam, medical and psychological exams in the on-campus health center, and academic placement exams in English, math, science, and the “Otis Test of Mental Ability.” However, there were also a great deal more social events such as a talent show, a Coke Sip Date Hour (Does anyone know what this is?), pool parties, mixers, movies, teas, and church services.  

In my opinion, the 1957 program makes the 2016 itinerary look like all work and no play.  What do you think? How does the 1957 Freshman Orientation Program differ from your own experience at the 2016 New Student Orientation?