Currently browsing tag


Preservation Week: Save Your Stuff and Pass It On!


It’s Preservation Week!

But what is Preservation Week, you might ask?

Preservation Week is a week long event sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) in collaboration with partners such as the Library of Congress, The Society of American Archivists, and The Institute of Library and Museum Services among others; to inspire preservation action and education throughout the country. What is particularly special about Preservation Week is that it not only targets the preservation of collections held by libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions, but also everyone’s personal and family collections of books, photographs, letters, etc.

Learn more and get tips for preserving your own collections:




* Saving your stuff:

Quick tips for caring for audio, books, film & home movies, data, textiles, documents & papers, slides, photographs, scrapbooks, oral histories, and artifacts.


* Dear Donia. . .

Ask Donia Conn, preservation specialist, your preservation questions and read her answers to question posed by others.


* Free Preservation Webinars

View free webinars on a number of preservation topics such as; preserving your digital memories, preserving your family photographs, and personal digital archiving.







To learn more check out the Preservation Week website.


Oral History: Collecting the Voices and Perspectives of History

The best history is complex, and told using many voices and many perspectives. Historians have a wide range of source types available to them which they can use in their research. Oral Histories are one type of source that a historian might consult as they seek to produce a rich and complex account of the past.

To learn more about what constitutes an oral history and the development of the field of oral history, check out the essay “What Is Oral History?” by Linda Shopes. The essay is part of a larger resource, “History Matters“, a collaboration between the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning of the City University of New York and the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, “History Matters” is designed to be a resource for history teachers (at both the high school and college levels), as well as students enrolled in U.S. History survey courses.

Interested in learning more about the process of collecting oral history interviews? Check out the Oral History Associations page of Principles and Best Practices.

If you are interested in the applications of oral history projects outside of the traditional field of history check out Upending the Narrative of the Great Man of History by Eliza Griswold, published in Smithsonian Magazine in December 2013.

Looking to listen to oral histories? Check out this sampling of online oral history collections:


 A independently funded, 501(c)(3) organization which launched a large scale oral history collection and preservation project in 2003. Learn more about StoryCorps through their FAQ page, or listen to their online collection of oral histories.

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940

This collection of over 2,900 documents, which includes oral histories and transcripts was made possible through the work carried out by the Federal Writers’ Project, part of the New Deal’s  Works Progress Administration / Work Projects Administration. Explore the collection online through the Library of Congress.

Oral Histories of the American South

A collection of 500 oral history interviews about the American South. The 500 interviews available online are part of a larger collection of 4,000 interviews housed at the Southern Historical Collection at University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

Oral History of the House

This collection focuses on the people, events, institutions, and objects of the ever-evolving House of Representatives of the United States. Learn about the collection and listen to the interviews here.

Oral History Center, Bancroft Library; University of California Berkeley

Want to learn more about the Oral History Center and its collections? Click here. Want to search their collection of oral histories? Check out their search tools (you can either search the collection through a keyword search or use their list of subject areas ).

H is for History

H is forRight off, let’s start out being honest about the usual view of historians and history in our society. Perhaps the mention of history and historians brings to mind images of such things as:

  • high school history textbooks
  • test and quizzes requiring you to learn the names and dates associated with events, many of which you have since forgotten
  • dusty books
  • old papers and maps
  • dull lectures
  • the saying “those who do not understand the past, are doomed to repeat it”
  • people who were perhaps unwise when choosing their college majors

The list goes on. And I, the trained historian and archivist, have encounter each and every one of the items or situations listed above, along with a few others not listed above.  This might prompt others to ask if I am simply someone who enjoys boredom, or is there another side to history and historians that has not been shared with the general population?  While I will not pretend to be the most adventure seeking individual, I think the idea that history isn’t very useful or interesting is more of a public relations issue that an actual fact.

Over the next couple of months I plan to share the many ways the skills of historians and historical methods can be applied and how these application can be used for purposes other than producing lists of dates and names that are often times quickly forgotten.

In the meantime check out the resources listed below to learn more about the field of history and the work of historians from the American Historical Association (AHA).

“Why Study History”

 “What I Do: Historians Talk about Their Work”

Or if you are one of those who have like me already been bitten by the history bug, check out our history resource guide here.

Autumn at Wheelock, circa 1978

Whenever I am asked to name my favorite season, I somewhat lamely answer that I don’t have a favorite. Having spent my whole life living in New England I am well acquainted with the positives and negatives that come along with each season and genuinely don’t love one season over another. However, after spending the weekend sick with a cold staring out the window of my apartment at the sad little tree across the road turning a decidedly not vivid brown-ish green color in the cool and gray October weather, I was in need of reminding of the more pleasant aspects of autumn.

I was lucky to stumble upon just such a reminder in the archives while preparing a lesson plan for a library instruction session scheduled for later this week. Suspecting that others might be in need of a similar reminder of the positive aspects of autumn after the past couple of days of cool rainy weather we have experienced here in Boston, I have decided share a couple of the autumn photographs found in the archives. Enjoy!

Wheelock College Campus in autumn.
Photograph circa 1978.
Photograph from Wheelock College Slide Collection, Wheelock College Archives, Boston, MA.

Wheelock College Student walks the Riverway in autumn. Photograph circa 1978. Photograph from Wheelock College Slide Collection, Wheelock College Archives, Boston, MA.

Wheelock College student walks along the Riverway in autumn.
Photograph circa 1978.
Photograph from Wheelock College Slide Collection, Wheelock College Archives, Boston, MA.


The Wheelock Library, Frank Benson, and John Singer Sargent?

As most of you are aware, the Wheelock College Library has seen a number of changes in 2010—from a newly designed 1st floor, to new computers, to additional group meeting space, to the relocation of the Archives.

But what do we know about the building’s history?

According to the our archival collections, the building we now call the Wheelock College Library was originally an art studio space. But it took some detective work to really uncover this building’s past.

In her study of American impressionist Frank Benson, Faith Andrews Bedford notes that, in 1915, Benson and a number of his friends and colleagues built a structure “located on the marshes of the Charles River” that they used for art studio space. A 1925 Boston City Directory lists the address for this building (under Benson’s name, among others) as 132 Riverway.

Benson, an American impressionist painter as well as a graduate of and professor at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, is known to have closed his Riverway studio in 1944. The following year, Wheelock College purchased a building on the Riverway for use as office space, art studios, and a library. Around this time, Wheelock publications and reports from the office of the president variously refer to this new building as the Art Building, the Riverway Studios, or the Riverway Studio Building.

This purchase is mentioned in the October 5, 1945 edition of The Fliterary, the Wheelock student newsletter at the time, but the building didn’t officially open as the Art and Library Building until autumn 1947. Because administrative offices were also located in the building at first, 132 Riverway served as the College’s administrative address for a number of years.

In the December 8, 1950 issue of The Fliterary, Fran Daly (class of 1952) penned an article about the “studio building” in which she writes:

The Studio Building, which serves as an art studio, a library and an administrative building, has a very distinguished past … Designed and built by Frank W. Benson and Joseph DeCamp, this building was formerly used as artists’ studios. In addition to its famous designers and builders, this building has housed artists of both local and international repute. For example, there were such artists as William James, Gertrude Fiske, Charles Woodbury, Fritz Kellogg and William M. Paxton. Even the famous John Singer Sargent is believed to have worked in the building at one time.

This list includes a couple of important figures from Boston’s art history – and perhaps no one more noteworthy than John Singer Sargent. But did Sargent ever use the Riverway studio?

Keep checking the Wheelock College Library’s blog for more information about (and images of) the Library building’s expansion over the years – and for further information about Sargent’s connection to the building. I have the answer, I promise.

-Andrew Elder, Archivist