place for the past
Pieces of RIT’s
rich history fill a vault on the third floor of Wallace Library.
The shelves and files of the RIT Archives are packed with memorabilia,
newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, more than 10,000 photos, documents,
historic portraits, posters, correspondence, RIT publications,
course catalogs, audio and video tapes and many other items.
a very broad collection,” says Archivist Becky Simmons,
who came to RIT in 2003 after serving as associate librarian
at the George Eastman House: International Museum of Photography
and Film. “Very few people realize what a wealth of items
we have here.”
|Eisenhart Teaching Award
Among the surprises:
a hockey stick signed by all members of the 1983 NCAA men’s
championship team; an oil painting by Eugene Colby, the first
teacher and principal of Mechanics Institute; a lace-trimmed cap
and apron from the domestic arts program of the early 1900s; shovels
used at numerous ground-breaking ceremonies over the years; an
1861 poster promoting a lecture on electricity.
|As RIT archivist, Becky Simmons is responsible for historical
items housed in Wallace Library. She’s holding an 1896
landscape painting by Eugene Colby, first principal and first
instructor at Mechanics Institute. The books on the table
are the History of Women Suffrage edited by Elizabeth Cady
Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage; the first
volume is inscribed from Miss Anthony to Kate Gleason. The
Institute Breeze was a student publication that began in
1909, and the photo shows the 1917-1918 basketball team.
Gladys Taylor, the
first caretaker of the collection, had a very simple collection
policy: “If it is about RIT, we want it!” First organized
in 1960, the nucleus of the collection came from then-President
Mark Ellingson’s office and from Alfred Johns and Al Davis,
who both had long careers as RIT faculty members and administrators.
“We are greatly indebted to these gentlemen and their secretaries
for preserving such valuable historical material,” Taylor
wrote in 1984. The collection continues to grow as contemporary
items are set aside and donations of historic items are received.
archives are available for the use of students, alumni,
faculty, staff, administrators and researchers. A selection
of 1,000 historic photos can be accessed via the Internet.
For more information about the RIT Archives and the online
photo collection, visit the Wallace Library Web site at http://wally.rit.edu/.