Monday, April 25, 2011

Inspiration - Colby Junior College Yearbooks

I work in the Alumni Office of a small college in New Hampshire. My job does not normally have a lot to do with my obsession with history, but sometimes it does, and those times can be really magic. Last fall I got to pick up a visiting alum at the airport, she had gone to school just after World War II and told great stories the whole drive north.
Colby Jr. students during WWII

I occasionally get to work with the school’s archives, tracking down photos, or looking up facts about the college from way back. The archivist is really friendly and loves to talk about the history of the school, and the newest photos they are digitizing, or the latest bunch of letters that have come in. Last year I was tasked with making a valentine card for all the alumni who are married to other alumni, so I asked the archivist if there was anything valentine related in the archives. She found a charming 19th Century card that was a lovely patterned orange and red with a poem in the middle. It was a bit cheesy, but Valentines Day is a bit cheesy and I got to explain inside the card that it came from the archives, which was a nice college connection.

There is a long-standing college tradition, one day in the fall the president rings the college bell and cancels class so that everyone can go climb the local mountain. Mountain Day goes back fairly far and I love the photos from the 1890s and early 1900s of the sporting types exploring the great outdoors. Then there are the photos of May Day, where the ladies of Colby Junior College dress in white and dance barefoot in the fields.

May Day 1949
Occasionally the Alumni Office gets an inquiry that can only be answered by going back to the old yearbooks. In January I got a call from a gentleman who was trying to locate his wife’s college roommate. His wife had just passed away and he wanted to contact her roommate, who had been the maid of honor at their wedding, and had been close for many years after college. He could not remember the roomate’s name, only her college nickname! Though we have a lot of alumni information in a database, it is not an easily searchable database, and not all the nickname information is in there, so the easiest way to find her was to go to the yearbooks. I found his wife’s record in our database, which gave me the class year: 1949, then I went to the yearbooks. I am totally a braids and knee socks kind of gal, and I admit by the time I was through turning every page of that yearbook, I was wondering how hard it would be to make a Colby Junior College blazer.

1 comment:

  1. anyone who knew Helen Brown '40 and any information concerning her please notify me