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On January 16, 2019, Amanda Nelson joins the library staff as University Archivist.  Amanda comes to Wesleyan from the American Institute of Physics in College Park, Maryland.  At AIP, she had a wide range of archival duties, including both behind-the-scenes collection and technical management and outreach and public services.  Amanda worked extensively on AIP’s oral history program, and she has described, digitized, preserved, and provided access to archival collections of all types.  Recently she managed the upgrade of the Physics History Network (https://history.aip.org/phn/), an online resource of “over 1000 biographies of physicists and histories of institutions with information pertaining to their lives, careers, and research.”



Equally adept at connecting with physicists and researchers at all levels of experience, Amanda serves as a judge for National History Day, an academic program emphasizing historical research, interpretation, and creative expression for 6th- to 12th-grade students.  She was instrumental in developing and implementing a new category of NHD awards in the history of science.

Amanda holds the MLS with a specialization in archives and records management from the University of Maryland.  Her undergraduate degree is from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, where she majored in English, with minors in history and dance.  Among her many extracurricular interests, Amanda is a devotee of musical theater. All of these qualifications will surely come into play as Amanda assumes her new role as University Archivist.  Welcome, Amanda!

(written by Suzy Taraba, director of Special Collections & Archives, for the winter 2019 issue of Check It Out, the library newsletter)

Recently SC&A received an inquiry from Elizabeth Williams, a member of the Aqueduct Rowing Club in Rexford, NY.  She was looking for the names of the Wesleyan 1878 crew team, a vintage photo of which had been the basis for her club’s logo of over 30 years. She had already done some research, finding a copy of the photo in the Getty Images Bettmann Archives, followed by using Google Maps to confirm that the Memorial Chapel inscription on the building in the photo matched Wesleyan’s chapel.


She wanted the team members’ names in order to acknowledge the Wesleyan rowers in a gift book she had made for a member of her club, which included the vintage photo and the club logo. “We call them the ‘rowers with an attitude’ because of their jaunty poses,” she wrote.

Wesleyan’s 1878 yearbook, the Olla Podrida, provided a list of the 1878 crew team members, but no photographs.


Fortunately, class albums from that time period contained photographs of students and student groups in addition to faculty and campus scenes.  I found the crew team photo  and some of the team members in an album which had belonged to Sheldon Kellogg (Wes class of 1878), and class albums from other years provided the rest.













By comparing scans of the individual photos with the team, Elizabeth was able to match names and faces. She and members of the ARC were happy that the Wesleyan rowers were no longer anonymous to them.

I asked Elizabeth to tell me more about the connection between the photo and the Aqueduct Rowing Club.  She recounted that a founding member of the club, Rob Roy, a graphic artist, saw the photo hanging in a bar in Syracuse. The bar owner had gotten the photo from a vintage collection and created a black and white outline version to use in his menu.  Rob liked it so much, he turned a photograph he took of the image into a slide, which he then projected onto big panels of waterproof sheeting. He and friends traced the outlines of the figures by moving the projector one or two rowers at a time to keep it perpendicular to the panels.  They added two extra rowers (since ‘sixes’ boats aren’t raced anymore) and red and white striped socks.


When the original sign was too weathered, the club replaced it with a smaller, sharper image, one sure to remain visible above even deep snow.

Leith Johnson, University Archivist since 2012, retired on June 29, 2018.  As archivist, Leith was responsible for all aspects of the Wesleyan archives, manuscripts, and local history collections.  He also served in other positions at Wesleyan throughout the years.  From 2007 to 2009, he was the project archivist for the William Manchester Papers in Wesleyan’s Special Collections & Archives, and from 1990 to 2007, he was the associate curator (later co-curator) of Wesleyan’s Cinema Archives.  Library colleagues, faculty, and staff praised his deep knowledge of American and Wesleyan history, his professionalism,  his teaching and presenting skills, and his sense of humor.  To honor his 25 years of service, donations were made to WESU, where he is a dj, and to the Friends of the Wesleyan Library Adopt a Book program, to restore a book from his field of interest.  The book that was chosen was Acts and Laws of the State of Connecticut, in America (1784). 

Leith will be greatly missed by all, but we  congratulate him and wish him all the best for an enjoyable retirement.

Suzy Taraba, Director of Special Collections & Archives, displays the book that will be preserved in Leith’s honor.



Saturday, May 26, 2018 — 10:30-11:30 am — Room 112, Boger Hall

In 1914, The Great War—known later as World War I—broke out in Europe. Wesleyan became a war campus in the years that followed. After the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany in 1917, college life at Wesleyan “took on a belligerent aspect,” as Carl F. Price, Class of 1902, observed later. “Minor sports, dramatics, dances, were dropped. The students were in army uniform, rose early in the morning to drill, were allowed no cuts from classes. A trench seamed part of the back of campus, and armed guards challenged all comers.” By the time the Armistice was signed in 1918—100 years ago this year—some 1,200 Wesleyan faculty, staff, students, and alumni provided military or civilian service, including twenty-six students and alumni who died. Attend the illustrated WESeminar by Leith Johnson, University Archivist, during Reunion/Commencement to learn how the “War to End All Wars” impacted Wesleyan.




On exhibit through Fall 2018
During library hours

Special Collections & Archives exhibit cases
Olin Library, 252 Church Street, Middletown

Free and open to the public

Highlights from the Angling, Baskin, Beales, Husted, Lawrence, Moulton, and Williams collections.
Curated by Suzy Taraba, Director, Special Collections & Archives.

Special Collections & Archives Open House


Image from State of the Planet: collage/effect by Giorgia Peckman ’18


View  artists’ books created by students

in Introduction to Environmental Studies (E&ES 197)

and other environmentally-themed artists’ books

from the SC&A collection that inspired them.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018
4:30-6:30 pm

At 5:30, Giorgia Peckman ’18 and Hunter Vannier ’20
will speak about their books.

Davison Rare Book Room
Special Collections & Archives
Olin Library
Wesleyan University
252  Church St., Middletown, CT  06459

In conjunction with the art installation in Olin lobby.

The new exhibit of the cast of Glyptodon, a giant armadillo, outside of the Science Library, in the lobby of Exley Science Center has been unveiled.  Originally on exhibit in the Wesleyan Museum in Judd Hall, the Glyptodon had been in storage since 1957, when the Museum was closed and its collections were dispersed.


Here is a photo of her previous home in the Museum in Judd Hall.



And a young fan.


(Archival photos from Special Collections & Archives)

To read more about the journey of Glyptodon from storage to her new pedestal, go to the Joe Webb Peoples Fossil Collection blog.

To view the Wesleyan Museum Records, dating from 1836, in Special Collections & Archives, email sca@wesleyan.edu or visit during Special Collections & Archives reading room hours, Monday-Friday 1-5 pm.

We are also excited that Dr. Kirk Johnson, Sant Director, National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution, will be giving a lecture on Thursday, March 1, at 7:30 p.m. in Shanklin Hall, room 107 on  “Natural History in the Age of Humans,”  highlighting the ongoing importance of natural history museums.  For more information about his talk, visit the Joe Webb Peoples Fossil Collection blog.



Wesleyan has a long connection with the Smithsonian.  George Brown Goode, class of 1847, the first curator of Wesleyan’s Museum and the son-in-law of Orange Judd, class of 1870, for whom Judd Hall is named, was concurrently an assistant curator at the National Museum.  He eventually became assistant secretary of the Smithsonian.  Dr. Johnson will be visiting the Anthropological and Archaeological Collections to view objects and Wesleyan Museum records on loan from Special Collections & Archives during his visit.

We’ve set up a coloring station in Olin Lobby so people can take a coloring break this week.  Printouts of Wesleyan’s Special Collections & Archives coloring book from the New York Academy of Medicine’s #ColorOurCollections online coloring fest are available there, as well as sample pages from some other collections.  If you can’t make it to Olin, you can download the Wesleyan coloring book, which features iconic campus architecture, such as Olin Memorial Library, archival collections, and illustrations from SC&A’s rare book collection, at http://library.nyam.org/colorourcollections/wesleyan-university-special-collections-archives-coloring-book/.



Here are some Wesleyan pages people have colored:


























































And here are some pages from other collections:











Wesleyan’s Special Collections & Archives is participating for the first time in the New York Academy of Medicine’s #ColorOurCollections coloring fest from February 5-9, 2018.  Download the Wesleyan coloring book, which features iconic campus architecture, such as Olin Memorial Library (above), archival collections, and illustrations from SC&A’s rare book collection.

Send photos and scans of your finished coloring pages or suggestions for future coloring book images to sca@wesleyan.edu.





Dr. King inspired many during his four visits to Wesleyan (on January 14, 1962, October 20-21, 1963, June 7, 1964, and November 20, 1966), and his legacy lives on.  For example, his 1964 baccalaureate address is as powerful a call to action to us today as it was then:

“And so we must move out of the mountain of physical violence and corroding hatred to the higher and noble mountain of non-violence and creative, powerful love.  This is the challenge standing before our nation, standing before our world.”

Photographs, articles, and reminiscences documenting Dr. King’s visits can be found in Special Collections & Archives.  If you would like to view them or share your memories, please email sca@wesleyan.edu.

Dr. King speaking to the College of Social Studies in 1962.


Argus coverage of Dr. King’s 1963 talk in the Chapel.


Dr. King with Wesleyan President Victor Butterfield in 1964.


Dr. King speaking at the 1964 baccalaureate service.



Argus coverage of Dr. King’s 1966 talk.

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