OHIO Libraries’ Archivists are “On the Green”

“You, the Coed,” a 1964-1965 Ohio University handbook for female students. Among other topics, Kimok will cover the history of women’s life on campus in his alumni college course, Ohio University Archives. (Image courtesy of Ohio University Libraries)
“You, the Coed,” a 1964-1965 Ohio University handbook for female students. Among other topics, Kimok will cover the history of women’s lives on campus in his alumni college course, Ohio University Archives. (Image courtesy of Ohio University Libraries)

When Bobcat Alumni register for the Ohio University Alumni Association’s May 30th–June 1st “On the Green” weekend, they’re signing up for the full Ohio University experience — including standing in line at the dining halls, sleeping in dorms, and meeting with friends on Court Street. And for a college experience that’s truly complete, they’ll have the opportunity to participate in the keystone of student life: classes.

Naturally, the Libraries is happy to oblige with the alumni’s education.

Bill Kimok, Ohio University archivist and records manager, and Doug McCabe, the Libraries’ curator of manuscripts, will take to the podium to deliver two alumni college courses: Ohio University Archives and 70th Anniversary of D-Day/Cornelius Ryan Symposium, respectively.

Both classes draw upon the Libraries’ Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, which means that both archivists faced the challenge of whittling a single class out of hundreds of thousands of unique items.

“I get pretty jazzed up about doing this kind of thing, so the hardest part for me is cutting the presentation to 50 minutes,” Kimok said.

Ultimately, though, Kimok managed to craft a hands-on introductory course about the archive’s hidden treasures.

Alumni can expect to sit at tables stacked with scrapbooks, photos, artifacts and memorabilia as Kimok guides an exploration of OHIO history, including topics such as women’s lives on campus, African-American student experiences, the rise and fall of various University buildings, the turmoil of wartime protests and the re-routing of the Hocking River.

Students at the "War Monument" on the College Green demonstrated against the presence of ROTC on campus in spring of the 1969-70 academic year. (Photo courtesy of Ohio University Libraries)
Students at the “War Monument” on the College Green demonstrated against the presence of ROTC on campus in spring of the 1969-70 academic year. (Photo courtesy of Ohio University Libraries)

Kimok also hopes to spend the last few minutes of the course introducing his students to the Libraries’ rare books collection. Sara Harrington, head of arts and archives, will make a special appearance to present a few of the collection’s gems, including a 13th century manuscript Bible and the diary of OHIO’s first female student, Margaret Boyd.

“Most alumni were probably not aware of the rare books collection and the Boyd diary when they were students here,” said Kimok, “and it’s probably not something they’ve ever seen before when they’ve returned to campus.”

Alumni might have also missed the Libraries’ world-renowned Cornelius Ryan Collection when they were students. Comprised of over 21,000 primary sources, the collection was meticulously gathered by war-correspondent-turned-author Cornelius Ryan while writing his best-selling World War II novels, including “The Longest Day.”

McCabe, who stewards the collection, has prepared a class that will offer alumni a personal, biographical understanding of Ryan. It’s an especially fitting approach to the course, since Ryan based much of his writing on the personal, biographical accounts of people involved in World War II.

A copy of Cornelius Ryan’s landmark D-Day novel "The Longest Day," which McCabe will discuss in his alumni college course, 70th Anniversary of D-Day/Cornelius Ryan Symposium. (Image courtesy of Ohio University Libraries)
A copy of Cornelius Ryan’s landmark D-Day novel “The Longest Day,” which McCabe will discuss in his alumni college course, 70th Anniversary of D-Day/Cornelius Ryan Symposium. (Image courtesy of Ohio University Libraries)

“These anecdotal stories from people — that’s what really spiced up the book and made it interesting,” said McCabe. Gathering personal accounts was an unusual writing method at the time, McCabe said, and it was a major factor in the Ryan’s success.

Alumni who attend can expect a full immersion into the author’s work: the class will take place in Alden Library’s Ryan Room, which houses Ryan’s personal desk, his annotated D-Day map, and a sampling of his research documents.

In addition to Ryan’s life, the process of writing “The Longest Day” will also be explained. McCabe estimates that the book has been sold approximately 30 million copies in over 30 languages. He himself recently wrote the introduction to The Longest Day’s 70th Anniversary interactive collector’s edition, which includes audio interviews, previously unpublished photos, and exact facsimiles of select documents from the collection.

“I think it’s very telling that 55 years after [The Longest Day] was first released, there are two editions being released at the very same time,” McCabe noted. “That can’t be said for a whole lot of books.”

Alumni can look forward to a deeper understanding of the film adaptation of “The Longest Day,” which will play at the Athena Theater on Court Street at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 31st, with a Q&A session facilitated by McCabe.

McCabe, who curates the Athens Lunatic Asylum collection, will also be available for questions following the screening of “The 1900: Voices from the Athens Asylum.” Produced by Cheri Russo and WOUB Public Media, the documentary offers a fascinating look at some of the 1,900 lives represented by unidentified, numbered graves in the located in the asylum’s cemetery.

The Ohio University Archives class takes place on Friday, May 30th, at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. in Alden LIbrary’s fifth floor Voinovich Room, and the 70th Anniversary of D-Day/Cornelius Ryan Symposium course also takes place on Friday at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. in Alden Library’s fifth floor Ryan Room. (Please note that the courses’ times and locations are different from those listed on the official registration page.) You can sign up for these classes and other activities at the Ohio University Alumni Association’s “On the Green” page until Friday, May 23, 2014.