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February 23, 2014 / Charlie McNabb

Found in the Archives

Working in an archives, I stumble on all kinds of interesting things.  Sometimes they are expected, but more often, they are surprises, since collections are rarely described even to folder level (More Product Less Process strategy; otherwise, they’d never be described and made accessible).  I thought I’d share some of my favorite surprises from the last couple of weeks.

UO Faculty Beards

UO Faculty Beards

Did you know that early University of Oregon male faculty all had beards?  It’s true!  And some were so popular and fascinating to behold that an unknown writer penned a rather long tribute, found in a “miscellaneous historical files” folder in a yet-unpublished collection.

Menstrual Folksong

Menstrual Folksong

This clever ditty was discovered in a collection of 1970s lesbian separatist community material.  I of course seized upon it since I’m currently doing research on LGBTQ menarche experiences.  This item and many more similar items can be found in the Southern Oregon Country Lesbian Archival Project Collection.

A Very Angry Letter

A Very Angry Letter

This incensed yet politely-worded letter is one of many relating to an incident at University of Oregon in 2006.  A student newspaper published several anti-Christian images in response to the anti-Muslim cartoons published earlier in a Danish newspaper.  The image that has this letter-writer so upset?

(You may want to stop scrolling and click away now if you find homoerotic Christian imagery offensive or if you are at work or around children.)

Resurrection by Johnny Correa

Resurrection by Johnny Correa

This find was especially surprising to me, since I actually know the artist and had never heard of this controversy!  To see more of Johnny Correa’s art, you can visit his webpage.

So, there are just a few examples of the spellbinding materials I find every day.  Sometimes offensive, sometimes beautiful, sometimes shocking, primary source material is almost always historically intriguing.  If you are a teacher, student, journalist, or historian, why don’t you explore your local archives?  You’re sure to find something for that paper or class assignment or article that will change your perception of history.


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