1, 2, 3: The best of the Archives

SAMARA BENZA, Asst. Features Editor — As a curious first-year, I took a self guided tour of the library late at night at the beginning of the semester. I found myself on the lowest level, looking through a wall of windows to a room filled with shelves and shelves of large books and boxes. I tried to swipe myself into this mysterious room but realized I didn’t have the access to enter. Looking around I realized I had discovered the Archives of Denison. 

I returned to the archives later in the semester, during the day this time, and realized that the archives aren’t off limits to me. In fact, the staff is extraordinarily welcoming and didn’t turn me away when I showed up out of nowhere with a million questions. Colleen Goodhart, a Library Associate in the archives, and Sasha Griffin, Archivist/Special Collections Librarian, were the two wonderful ladies I talked to. These are their collective top three favorite things about the archives.

Years of pages being turned in the book results in a build up of grime and dirt on the medieval leaves. PC: Samara Benza/The Denisonian
  1. Medieval Works (Sasha Griffin)

Found in the stacks are medieval leaves—individual sheets of paper covered with ornate designs and beautiful text. Each leaf holds a piece history within its fibers. 

Some of medieval leaves have been digitized but there is a lot more to be discovered when you come to the Archives. Griffin says Denison has one of the best collections of medieval leaves and the collection is always being added to so it’s always a good idea to come back if you haven’t been there in a while. There is also a great collection of medieval books that students can look at and discover. To look at the digitized leaves go to http://exhibits.denisonarchives.org.

2. Timelessness of students (Colleen Goodhart)

If you look back throughout the years of Denison’s history you will find a common thread. Goodheart talks of “how similar students and their experiences are even a hundred years ago.” There is the discussion of problems with the dorms and chatter of social life on campus both in the 1800’s and in 2019. Very involved students have always been present in Denison’s students—Goodhart mentions physics majors who were in concert choir decades ago. It is a good place to go if you want to see how students who lived so long ago still face the same problems we do today. Or if you want to read The Denisonian that was published in the 1800’s.

3. Protests/Student Action Movements (Sasha Griffin)

While this isn’t a medieval leaf, it is an early modern leaf, from around the 1720’s. This leaf is from a Russian Orthodox Bible written in Cyrillic. PC: Samara Benza/The Denisonian

Student activism is popular today but it was very common back in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Students ran protests and started movements. Mostly students focused on racial justice matters but it wasn’t uncommon for them to be involved in worldwide issues too, like the Apartide in South Africa. Griffin enjoys this piece of history because “it shows how involved and passionate the Denison students were to make an institutional change.” All throughout Denison’s history students have been there pushing for change when they saw change was needed. 

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