Dive into the past, OC scrapbooks
In recent years, social media has served as a tool to document a student’s college experience, as well as serve as a time capsule of memories from years past. From Time Hop reminding students of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts of the past, students consolidating photos into Facebook Photo Albums for each year they are in college, or other uses of social media apps to safeguard their college memories, social media is our generation’s tool for nostalgic reminiscing. But what about Olivetians from the past? Before the internet, how did students in Olivet’s long history relive their college days? Besides sharing stories and talking to their old peers, the answer to this inquiry sits in the Olivet College Archives.
In the OC Archives, there are several boxes with only names and years on their labels. Inside the box lives early Olivetians’ own forms of social media: scrapbooks. Numerous scrapbooks from alumni have been donated to the Olivet College Archives, dating from the early 1900s, all the way to a scrapbook from the 1970s. Inside these scrapbooks are former Olivet College student’s remnants of their college days, from grade cards and school handouts, to photographs of them and their college friends. One of the most popular items in the Olivet College Archives, they are always available to look through and see just what life was like for past Olivet students!
One of the most popular scrapbooks for those who visit the OC Archives formerly belonged to Miss Dorothy Keister, who attended Olivet from 1920-1923. Through the record of her college experience, college sporting events, public Greek exercises, concerts, and other events can be documented. Keister also included photographs of herself with friends, along with groups at the college. Primitive text messages are also included in her scrapbook, in the form of notes written back and forth on notebook paper between friends. Keister, a former Soronian, also includes handouts and dance cards from Greek parties, as well as photographs of the groups that attended. Letters, crafts, photographs, and dried roses shows a college experience that can forever be shared with those today.
Another of the several scrapbooks comes from the same time period of Keister, belonging to Reine Whittemore, who graduated in 1919 from Olivet College. Whittemore’s scrapbook is similar to Keister’s: full of dance cards, which dance partners would sign following each dance. Whittemore also enclosed newpaper articles, letters, and programs from the college’s recitals, annual parties, and concerts. In addition to her own experience, Whittemore was thorough in providing photographs of the college at the time, and other students as well. A member of the Sigma Beta sorority, Whittemore also includes memories with her sisters and photographs of parties with other Greek Houses at Olivet.
Scrapbooks weren’t just for the women of Olivet either. Several male alumni have donated their scrapbooks to the Olivet College Archives. Reverend Clyde Wilcox attended Olivet College around the same time as Whittemore and Keister. His scrapbook mostly consists of photographs and programs from college-sponsored events, as well as memories from his own house, Kappa Sigma Alpha. Wilcox also included memories from when he taught at Olivet in the English Department.
While Olivetians in the past could not post Facebook photos of them and their friends, or tweet about parties, college barbeques, or funny stories their scrapbooks serve as a reminder of what Olivet has been for students of the past. The scrapbooks also serve as a physical history lesson for Olivetians of today. All Olivet students are encouraged to take a visit and look through the memories donated from former Olivetians, not only to see where Olivet has been, but to see for themselves what amazing tools these scrapbooks are.