A Visit to an Archive

It turns out my last blog post was a bit optimistic about writing a post once a week. The seven months since I wrote that have been very difficult. But now things are back on track, I’ve started a new job, and decided to start taking M.A. classes at Signum again. In particular I’m taking Introduction to Theory, Research and Writing.

One of our assignments is to visit a local archive and write up about our experience there. When I first heard about this assignment I was thrown for a bit of a loop as I had never visited an archive before and had no clue where one could be in my relatively rural area - nor any idea on how to find out. After doing a bit of research it turns out that Houghton College, where I earned my Bachelor’s Degree, has a small archive that I’d be able to visit.

After looking up the procedures for visiting the Houghton College Library Archives  I was happy to find that they had open viewing hours on Fridays between 1 and 4. So after a bit of scheduling changes I planned on visiting the coming Friday.

archive screenshot

Friday morning began with completing the Archives Usage Policy before going for a short drive.

Archives Usage Policy

About 20 minutes later I was pulling into the college entrance.

Houghton College Entrance

And after finding a parking spot it was just a short walk to the library.

Houghton Library

Pleasantly enough there were signs pointing to the archive (that I had somehow completely missed in my 4+ years on campus). With the help of those signs finding the entrance to the archives was a piece of cake, but… they were closed.

College Archives Hours

Oops, I guess the hours for the archives had changed but someone forgot to update the website 🙄. Looks like I’ll be going back on Monday.

Well, determined not to make the trip in vain I spent a couple of moments browsing one of my favorite features of the Houghton Library: a physical copy of the Oxford English Dictionary.

OED Archive 1

Found out that hammocks had been installed since the last time I was on campus.

Houghton Hammocks

And bought a cookie and cappuccino from the campus cafe.

Coffee & Cookie

Even though I did not get to enter the archives themselves I did learn my first lesson about archives:

Always make sure you have human contact with an archivist before actually visiting said archive.

To be continued…

Keli Fancher

Keli Fancher