Processing the “Joseph Platt Papers”

I officially began processing the “Joseph Platt Papers” this week! Developing a processing plan for approximately 60 boxes of material is no easy task. Reflecting on my time in various archives as a researcher, I must admit: I am spoiled. Prior to working in Special Collections, I had a very limited idea of what it is that archivists actually do.

As an archivist you imagine how a researcher might approach a particular collection or a set of materials generally speaking. You try to organize the collection in a way that is efficient for a researcher without presuming all possible connections. I prefer thematic organization ordered chronologically.

I processed the United States Atomic Energy Commission materials on Tuesday and Thursday and materials related to the China Foundation for the Promotion of Education and Culture on Friday. These are subseries within a larger series of government organizations.

I am looking forward to processing the UNESCO materials early next week!

Until next time,

Tiara N. Yahnian-Murta

The Publicity of the Herbert Hoover Collection

The main discovers that I found in the Herbert Hoover Collection this week was bibliographical materials, mostly photos or photocopies of Mr. and Ms. Hoovers and some form there estates. Most of this publicity was due the collection being donated to Harvey Mudd College and the College attempting to gain more prestige for this collection. After all when the collection was donated to Harvey Mudd the College was only 20 years old. Furthermore, I can across an article in The American road, which stated that already three journalists received awards for the Hoover-related stories in 1987. Hence, in turn, increasing the publicity of Harvey Mudd college.

An Envelope Titled “Dedication”

As I was making my through a box of Harvey Mudd College ephemera, I came across a tattered envelope titled “Dedication.” The envelope contained an invitation to the dedication of the Harvey Mudd College Campus Center (and to a dinner meeting with Dr. Lee A. Dubridge) that would take place on Monday, November 25, 1963. The Campus Center, an “app-purpose center, which has 31,500 sq. ft. of floor space provides a dining hall, lounge and recreation areas,” was dedicated to Joseph B. Platt. In addition to the invitation, the envelope contained newspaper clippings documenting the event, letters written to Jean and Joe, a record of The Claremont Congregational Church’s Thanksgiving Service, a blueprint of the cornerstone with the words “Joseph B. Platt Campus Center 1963” to be engraved, and a group function order form among other things. For those of you wondering what was on the menu… lamb, mashed potatoes, green vegetables (peas), hot bread, and salad. YUM! Oh, and how could I forget… ice cream (sherbet) for dessert.

As I began reading the letters and newspaper articles I noticed a somber tone. Then it dawned on me. November 22, 1963 was the day that U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The dedication was postponed until Monday, December 9, 1963. Several of the letters reflect on this tragedy. In his letter to Jean and Joe, Walter E. Hastings wrote, “I’m sure you had the pall of sadness in Claremont as we did in Rochester today. Almost all places of business were closed down and I have never seen such sadness on the faces of the people you met. These have been the three longest days of my life and I’m sure that it will [be] some little time before we recover from the shocks of the last 72 hours. I didn’t vote for him [(Walt scratched out the word him and inserted JFK)] but I realize now what a magnificent man he was.” People make misjudgments, but its not everyday that we admit and reflect on them. As we approach the holiday season and gather with friends and loved ones let’s not forget to practice intellectual, moral, and personal humility. Surely, we aren’t always right.

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”
― Criss Jami

Until next time,

Tiara N. Yahnian-Murta

Herbert Hoover Discovers

When the Hoover Collection was first processed, it was actually at Sprague Library at Harvey Mudd College. Herbert Hoover the third donated the collection originally to Harvey Mudd College, and they created a Sprague Library to house the material. It created a lot of popularity for Harvey Mudd College, however, Sprague Library was ill-prepared to take on such a collection. I found the initial report recording the lack of temperature control (a cool temperature is critical for books, so they do not get damaged). Furthermore, there were reports of vandalism and petty theft. Additionally, researchers were reading the materials in the same room where the collection was being housed, which could encourage theft. Sprague Library did improve these conditions. Currently, Sprague Library no longer exists, and the materials got moved to the Honnold Mudd Library instead. It is fascinating to learn the history behind the cataloging of such an impressive collection.