Monday, September 30, 2019

Redlands Experiences: Archival Materials

As we go about our days as students, faculty members or staff at Redlands, we are part of a continuum of people who have done similar things since the inception of our University, over 100 years ago. Each individual who has had a Redlands experience is a part of the collective story of our institution. Everyone comes from a different background, and brings their own perspective to the mix. That is what makes our story rich, and diverse.

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be a student at Redlands in a different era? What might students now and students in the 1930s have in common? How might their campus experiences be different? Recently, the archives of Armacost Library received a wonderful donation of photographic images taken by student Helen Frances Woodard, in the 1930s. In each photo, we see what Woodard’s perspective was. They act as a small window into the past, revealing a few clues that might help us explore these questions of similarity and difference more closely.

Woodard made these diminutive photos with a box camera. Many simple box cameras of the 1930s did not have a source of additional light like an internal flash mechanism, so taking photos outdoors, or in a very well lit indoor space yielded the best images. The images taken went on film inside the camera. The film went to a developing house, or people could develop the film themselves and print the photos out on paper, with a relatively simple system of chemicals and equipment. Think how we capture images with current technology, and compare it to what Woodard did. There is quite a difference!

Now, examine the images for yourself, and compare them to similar views you see each day on campus. Reflecting on the experiences of others can help us clarify our own, and give insight into the continuum, of which we are an important part. As you take selfies or post images to Instragram of SnapChat, take a few and print them out, so they will be around for future generations to enjoy, just as we are enjoying Woodard’s snaps.

Michele Nielsen
Armacost Library, Archivist Historian

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