Back to the Future: Rediscovering the Archives of Vermont College
One afternoon last week my colleague Tony Pagani and I visited the balcony level of the VCFA Library, the temporary home of the Vermont College archives. What kind of archives can a four-year-old college have, you wonder? Well, let me tell you, this campus has a long and rich history, and Tony and I were up to our elbows in it. But we were surprised at the depth of what we found.
The collection of photos, documents, mementos and publications are waiting in their temporary home to be processed by an archivist and eventually be displayed properly so that all can see. But in the interim we were working on a project that necessitated some vintage artwork of the campus’s 178 year history, so we ambled across College Street to immerse ourselves in the campus’ history. We carefully sifted through an incredible range of photographs, from black and white images of bouffant-haired co-eds from the early 1960’s to ambrotype student portraits printed on glass and framed in embossed metal. We yelped to each other with each discovery—a V.C. student stewardess by a 1950’s plane! A group of period dressed women taking art class!—and the pile to scan got larger and larger.
There are vintage beanies and jester costumes from the winter ball, diaries from students in 1860, and crumbling wartime newspapers. And it took all our self-control not to tear open the time capsule box from the Adult Degree Program undergraduate class of 1983. Two hours passed in a blink and we found it hard to pull ourselves out of the past and back to the modern tasks of scanners and Photoshop. As we made our way back to College Hall, I couldn’t help but wonder if one day a future Director of Alumni Affairs will come across a photo of VCFA President Tom Greene and remark on his period dress, or an image of a MFA in Visual Arts exhibition and admire its historical importance.
We look forward to the day when these items can be enjoyed by all, but in the meantime Tony and I will blow the dust off the Queen of the Winter Ball, place her face down on the scanner’s glass surface, and respectfully place her in a page of the Historical Walking Tour book so she can tell you her story. How fortunate are we to write and create in a place that is filled with 178 years of people’s stories?
--Ann Hagman Cardinal, '07, Alumni Affairs Director