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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