Notes from the Archivist: Welcome Back!

Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Fellowship of the Ring. National Treasure. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. What do these all these works have in common (aside from being awesome)? The answer is ARCHIVES.

In films and television, archives are typically portrayed as dimly lit, cavernous spaces filled with towers of papers and artifacts. Characters then spend tons of time digging through boxes and blowing dust off things before they finally find what they’re searching for.

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The reality is, of course, a bit different. Yes, archives have documents, books, and items that illustrate history; however, you don’t have to go through daring feats or fight bad guys to access the historical, cool, and unique items in archives. The most you would have to do is read through a finding aid and pick out something that sounds interesting… and you might have to wear some fancy blue gloves to handle material.

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The material in Columbia’s archival collection is primary source material, which means it shows the contemporary views of historical events or reflects the culture of the time. The collection documents the culture and history of the College and illustrates the life work of people whose collections are available to research.

Subjects in the collection include journalism, fashion, photography, design, editorial cartoons, activism, music, artist books, radio, and other courses taught at Columbia. Collections soon ready for research relate to World War II and social justice movements.

So welcome back to campus and as you start a new year at Columbia College Chicago, know there is a treasure trove of material available to you, some right at your fingertips and some you’ll have to dig for.

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