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History Finds A New Home

February 4, 2019

 

As Olivet College approaches its 175 anniversary of its founding, it welcomes its newest addition, a building just for campus archives.

 

Nikki Magie, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology and archivist at Olivet, has been heading the project. Before she came to work for Olivet College, the archives were instorage on the third oor of the Bur- rage Library. Since then, she and her paid student workers and interns have been cataloging and sorting the documents.

 

According to Magie, the heating and cooling is uneven in the library. The temperature of the main studying areas is prioritized over the temperature of the archives.

 

According to the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NDCC), changing temperatures causes the documents to expand and contract,and can cause “cockling paper, flaking ink, warped covers on books, and cracked emulsion on photographs”.

 

However, thanks to alumni and donors Bob and Sarah Lawrence, the Hosford House is being transformed into not only a safe place to store artifacts, but also a place to experience college history.

 

The Hosford History Center and Lawrence Archives at 511 Main St., located next to Blair Hall and across from Sigma Beta. The building itself is oneof the oldest building on campus and belonged to the Hosford family, one of the founding families of Olivet College.

 

The building now has two sections, one for the public museum areas and one for the safe storage of the items not on display. The storage area is equipped with a climate and humidity control, flood prevention, a separate heating and cooling system, and is fire proof, according to Magie. This section has brick walls, and the doors leading into this section of the building are sealed. They are “trying to prevent the disaster,” said Magie.

 

The main floor rooms will allow students to travel through time as each room represents different prominent decades. Unlike museums in the past, displays will also not be behind glass. “Best practice is now for museums to have it so you can touch things and you can see them,” said Magie. There are also parts of the original Hosford House that are exposed for people to feel, such as sections of the walls, and the original fireplace.

 

There will be a small café in one of the first rooms that will have coffee for sale. Equipped with seating for students, Magie hopes it will become a new hangout spot for students looking to do homework or get a little taste of history. “It is meant to be a homey spot, but it shouldn’t feel like your grandparent’s house,” said Magie, “old and historic but comfortable.”

 

The soft opening for the new archive building is Feb. 20 after the Founders’ Day program. The hard opening will be in May before graduation in a continued celebration of Olivet’s 175 anniversary.

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