from the Record
Sarah Almond, archival and digital projects librarian, and Colin Woodward, special projects archivist working with the papers of the late Lt. Gen. Samuel V. Wilson, recently answered some of our most burning questions in celebration of Ask an Archivist Day back in October.
What is the oldest item you’re working with in your respective archive?
SA: A lot of people don’t know that Hampden-Sydney has an impressive collection of rare books, including a 13th century Bible that was handwritten and illustrated by monks.
CW: General Sam had a handwritten Hampden-Sydney bachelor’s degree from the 1700s that was issued to one of his ancestors. It was an interesting find in an otherwise mostly 20th century collection.
What is the most interesting item you’ve found in your respective collections?
SA: I find the materials related to the founding of the College really interesting because they’re dealing with people like Patrick Henry who were foundational to the country as well.
CW: General Sam was in an elite unit during WWII called Merrill’s Marauders, and he was also a consultant on the movie Merrill’s Marauders which was based on the unit. He kept a lot of materials like photos and letters related to his time in the unit and on the movie which are particularly interesting to look through.
Why is archival work important?
SA: Especially right now when we look at politics and history, primary source material is really important to figuring out the difference between what someone thinks happened and what actually happened, and those primary sources typically live in archives. Keeping archival collections maintained and organized is crucial to ensuring that primary source material is usable.
CW: Simply put, archives are the building blocks of history.
What items are you interested in receiving for the archive?
SA: We are especially interested in collecting items related to military history, early U.S. colonial history, politics, rhetoric, and economics. We also have a COVID-19 archive to document both the College’s response to and the nation’s experience of the pandemic, so we’re interested in submissions for that project.
COVID-19 Community Archives Project
To capture the lived experience of the Hampden-Sydney College community we invite students, alumni, administration, faculty, and staff to submit their evidence in the form of journal and diary entries, emails, texts, screengrabs, photographs, videos, interviews or audio recordings, memes, illustrations, or any other digital or paper traces that reflect the ongoing situation around COVID-19.