My Favorite Room on Campus

Posted: February 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

This past week’s class took place in what has now become my favorite room on the entire campus, the archive. I know, this makes me sound like a huge history nerd but that’s ok because I am. I had only been in that room once before and it was actually earlier that day, to ask about some materials they had for another research project I am working on.

During the class we discussed copyright laws, all of which can be very confusing, and what types of things were in the archives. I was amazed at all the different things that were there. From a thirteenth century Book of Hours made of vellum to the chair that Rep. Henry Hyde sat in during the President Clinton impeachment, it seemed that this little room had it all. It reminded me of the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix.

For this week’s assignment we were tasked with finding something in the archive from the nineteenth century and then digitize it. I chose to use materials I have been using for my other research project


This book, History of the Western Missions and Missionaries in the United States is a look into life on the frontier in the Western United States and is located in the archives rare book collection. It centers around the life of Father De Smet, a Jesuit missionary, and relates the experiences of living among the Native population.  Included in the book is a picture of Father De Smet.


I was honestly worried about handling a very old and rare book, but after a few minutes my fear had subsided. I had just finished casually skimming through the pages reading about Flathead Indians, and the terrain features of the areas in which he traveled when I noticed a folder they had left out for me as well. This is what was inside.


This is an orignal letter written by Father De Smet himself. This letter was written over one hundred and fifty years ago and here I am holding it in my hands.

The steps of the process were relatively straightforward. I made an appointment to go and see these articles at the archive by just showing up and setting it up. When I arrived for my appointment they already had the box out for me to view along with two books from the rare books section. It was a very easy process, and everything went smoothly. They allowed me to take digital photos of the material as long as I didn’t use a flash. The photos came out really well, and are pretty easy to read, except for the letter, which is actually really hard to read in person as well.

Overall the process is very easy, and by digitizing the archive it would make research really easy to do. However, the real experience of holding history in your hands is an important one. By holding history in your hands it makes it more than just a story, it make it come to life! It is awful hard to get excited about an artifact or a subject when it is just cold data you are reading on a computer screen.


  1. Hannah says:

    ugh I don’t know how that mess of a place is your favorite place on campus ( ̄^ ̄)ゞ

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