"Past Meets Present" is time travel, Emory style

Published 03-24-2012

Commencement, circa 1950s. Credit: Emory University Photograph Collection, Emory University Archives, Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library.
A short elevator ride up to the latest exhibition in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) on the 10th floor of the Robert W. Woodruff Library will take you on a journey though time and the history of Emory University.“Past Meets Present: Highlights from the Emory University Archives Collections” contains a wide range of memorabilia, including several historical documents detailing the changes Emory University has undergone throughout the years, various items belonging to Emory alumni, and many photographs and illustrated postcards.

“When choosing what pieces to display, I wanted to promote the social and academic history of the University, and highlight items from the collection that document how teaching, research, administration, and student life at Emory have changed over time. While these pieces tell the story of Emory University, they also tell a larger story about the growth of institutions of higher education that goes beyond just Emory,” said Kate Donovan Jarvis, curator of the exhibit. “This display is a wonderful opportunity for students to see historical Emory collections, including material culture that they might not otherwise know is in the archives and available for their research.”

Among the items on display: a navy blue letter sweater from 1895 that belonged to Emory alumni W.D. Thompson, a meerschaum D.V.S. Senior Society pipe carved in the shape of Dooley’s skull, and a book of faculty meeting minutes open to a page that recounts the expulsion of a student who tried to settle an argument “with a club in his hand and a pistol in his bosom.”

The enlarged illustrated postcards and photographs that adorn the walls document both the familiar and unfamiliar. Pictures of students relaxing hang above the display cases and provide viewers with a peek into the past. Students can be seen socializing at some of Emory’s earliest dances, called Dooley’s Frolics, which current Emory students will now recognize as Dooley’s Week.

“These photographs and postcards are wonderful sources of history. They allow you to see life at Emory in a way that is not possible with narrative documents,” said Ginger Smith, interim director of MARBL. “Among my favorites are pictures of places and scenes that no longer exist at Emory. These ‘Vanishing Emory’ images recapture aspects of our history that are important but that can no longer be seen or experienced." "Past Meets Present" is on display through June 30; check MARBL hours here.

Posted 2-16-12

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