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reed magazine logoAutumn 2008

Archiving Reed's History

A letter from Henry Miller to faculty member David Ray; correspondence from Albert Einstein to Reed’s sixth president, Peter Odegard; a note of praise from Virginia Woolf to a Reed senior on “getting” Woolf’s meaning in her thesis—these are among the items I have been delighted to discover in Hauser Library’s special collections. Such materials, illustrating all facets of Reed’s history, are archived to preserve and promote their use in research and scholarship—and for enjoyment. Last year, when special collections assistant Mark Kuestner brought out a box of college-owned audio items for John Suiter’s research on Gary Snyder ’51, we were elated to learn that one of the tapes held the earliest-known recording of Allen Ginsberg reading his groundbreaking poem “Howl.”

Haeg in studio

Orin Zyron Photography

Gifts provide a large component of the treasures kept in the Reed archives. Not only have alumni been generous in sending their published works for inclusion in our Reediana collection, but many alumni and friends also have donated a variety of other wonderful items. We have an unpublished manuscript of a novel by Dorothy Johansen ’33 (faculty 1934–84); the diaries and collection of medals of Edouard Chambreau, an early Oregon Indian Scout; the political papers of George Bernard Noble, a political science professor; the chemical disarmament documents of one-time faculty member Joseph Bunnett ’42; the papers and library of calligrapher and professor Lloyd J. Reynolds (faculty 1929–1969); as well as the papers, library, and many of the poetry manuscripts of 1932 alumna Mary Barnard. All of these treasures came to the library as gifts or bequests, and join the original theses of all Reed graduates; records, photographs, and publications of the college; and the papers of founders Simeon and Amanda Reed and T.L. Eliot, which form the heart of the archives.

Researchers consult the materials in special collections throughout the year. We receive requests from all over for information about early members of the faculty, alumni, buildings, and events. Recently, William Trufant Foster, grandson of Reed’s first president, visited the archives to learn more about his grandfather. Writer Sharan Newman came to carry out research for The Shanghai Tunnel, her story about Portland’s underground network of tunnels, with references to city businessman Simeon Reed.

Materials received from members of the campus, the Reed community, and those outside the college are processed and merged into the collections as quickly as possible. Books and pamphlets are generally cataloged and appear in an online catalog, while papers and ephemera enter the archive files and are logged into our internal databases. During the academic year, two part-time students help us process and file these materials. If necessary, staff members carry out preservation steps before materials enter the collection: they re-folder papers into acid-free housing, replace paper clips and staples with rustproof alternatives, remove foreign objects, and copy newsprint and other acidic paper items onto acid-free stock.

The organization of any large coherent group of papers results in a finding aid, and documents are searchable and accessible online at http://library.reed.edu/using/
collections/manuscripts.html
. Those interested in requesting images of Reed-related subjects may look through some of the thousands of photographs held in the archives. Be sure to contact us ahead of your intended visit; we can maximize your experience in special collections by pulling material for your appointment. With the upcoming Reed Centennial in mind, we are slowly digitizing many of the historical pictures and documents for use on a special website now under construction.

We invite you to contribute Reed-related materials that build on our collection of the founding and development of the college, its alumni, and its community. Come see your era at Reed, or perhaps even contribute to the historical record. Discover our and your treasures!

—Gay Walker ’69
Special Collections Librarian

Special Collections Location:
Room 014, on lower level two of the Hauser Library
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday;
10 a.m.–noon, 1–4 p.m.; or by appointment
Contact: Gay Walker, 503/777-7782, walkerg@reed.edu
or Mark Kuestner, 503/517-7394, kuestnem@reed.edu

reed magazine logoAutumn 2008