On the first Friday of the workshop, and only the third day overall, we started the morning with Heather Calloway, the archivist at Washington College's Miller Library. Heather had been working with the StoryQuest archival research team during the spring semester, helping them locate primary sources resources from the war years--including yearbooks, the college and town newspapers, meetings minutes, and one very special box of letters (ask Sarah about this at some point!)
This morning, Heather introduced us all to the archives, showing us all the collections the college has and explaining how the archival process works. Aside from realizing just how much the college has archived, everything from paintings to unidentified photographs to VHS tapes of sports games, we also got to see some cool stuff from the years we're interested in--the war years. We passed around a felt cap, stiffened with age, that the Freshman "rats" had to wear to identify themselves; a WAC pennant, with the owner's dance tickets pinned to it; a scrapbook, where a former student had kept photos now yellowed with old paste.
After lunch, we took a short field trip (a whole two minutes long) next door to William Smith, where a memorial plaque displays the names of the WAC students who gave their lives in the armed services during World War II. Some of the names were now familiar, after our morning of peeking into the college life of that time. Each student picked a name to research, and with Heather's help in directing them through the archive's resources, they spent the afternoon piecing together a timeline of these soldiers' lives, developing the research skills they'll put to use later in preparing for interviews.
We'll hear from them next about what this afternoon was like. As for me, I'm hoping to make Archival Fridays a thing!