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Sometimes we hear adjectives getting tossed around in reference to the Archives like “scary” or “spooky” or “dusty.” These are utterly, completely, and absolutely false (except for the dusty part, maybe). Today, partially in an effort to dispel some of these ill-founded conceptions, we have created for you a guided photographic tour of the Archives! We’re giving you an exclusive glimpse into the archives vault. Click on the photos above to view them, then consult the list below for a brief explanation of each. Have fun!


1. Welcome to the Archives! We’re located on the fourth floor of Mudd Library, right next to Special Collections.

2. This is Louisa, our friendly Archival Assistant. She’s the person you’ll likely interact with most when you visit the Archives. She’s smart, helpful, and great at finding what you’re looking for. Hi Louisa!

3. Here’s the reading room. This is where visitors sit and view materials, take notes, do research, etc. The reading room will be renovated this summer to create a brand new teaching room that we’ll be sharing with Special Collections.

4. This is the processing room. Now we’ve entered the vault! The processing room is where we will generally organize and describe materials. Here you can see Anne Salsich, the Assistant Archivist, motioning to the first all-College panorama photograph from 1906, just returned to us from the Intermuseum Conservation Association.

5. Also in the processing room are our flat files, where we keep posters, large photographs, maps, and architectural drawings. In front of them, on the carts, we keep materials that we’ve prepared for scheduled research appointments.

6. The shelves themselves. Here is a view down one row of shelves. They’re packed with boxes, and most boxes are packed with papers…

7. But not all boxes! Here is a box filled with film reels.

8. These blue boxes have class albums in them, similar to the unboxed ones also in this photo. These albums date back as far as 1858.

9. Here are some of our framed portraits, maps, and artworks lining the wall behind the shelves.

10. And finally, the shooting studio, which we share with Special Collections. This is where we take high quality digital photographs of materials to add to our digital collections.

Usually the College Archivist Ken Grossi is around, but he was out of the office today. We’ll get a photo of him in his natural habitat next time. Hope you enjoyed the tour. Like or reblog this post if you did and we may do more in the future.


Now you have no excuse but to visit the Oberlin College Archives. It’s even cooler than these photos when you are there in person.

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