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Archivist Tamar Chute: Celebration, changes in store for Archives during 50th anniversary

Tamar Chute

Tamar Chute, University Archivist

It is an honor for me to serve as University Archivist at The Ohio State University, particularly this year as we celebrate the University Archives’ 50th anniversary. Students often ask me, “What does the Archives do?” My short, elevator speech is “The University Archives serves as the official memory of The Ohio State University.” How we do that is the complicated part.

First, we collect material. In 2014 the Archives accepted more than 240 items or collections from units on campus and generous donors. These ranged from a small diary written by an unknown student in 1931 to more than 50 boxes from the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design. To make highly used items widely available, we have worked with partners throughout the Libraries and University to digitize material, such as the Board of Trustees meeting minutes, Course Bulletins, and the Makio.


Student diary from 1931

Adding material online has increased the number of donations we receive and the number of questions we answer. In 2014, the University Archives answered nearly 3,000 reference questions from individuals ages 8 to 80! We’ve helped people with National History Day projects, term papers, books, and their search to find information about their relatives. In each case, the Archives staff searched our holdings to help in any way possible.

BoxesThe year 2015 will transform the Archives in many ways. Due to a lack of space in our stack area, nearly 14,000 boxes will be transferred to an off-site storage facility in February. These boxes will remain available to patrons but will require a little more advance notice to review (24 hours). At the same time, all of the Libraries’ Special Collections are migrating to a new online archives management tool, and the Archives will be working with a vendor to digitize our collection inventories. This means our inventories will be available to researchers any time and any place.

The year 2015 also will be the time to celebrate our past and look to our future. Be sure to keep reading our blog posts for updates and watch for a special feature about the University Archives in the March/April issue of the alumni magazine.

Sketch from the University's 50th anniversary celebration

In addition, I hope you can join us for our big anniversary event on May 14 from 4-7 p.m. Come toast the University Archives, take a tour of our facility, participate in a hands-on experience with interesting and unique artifacts, and watch rarely seen historical film footage.

All of us at the Archives are grateful for the support of so many people during the first 50 years of the University Archives. We look forward to celebrating our golden anniversary with you!

(Image at left is a sketch from the University’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in 1920.)

Twelve Days: For Woody Hayes and others, the Archives aims to ‘pay it forward’

(In celebration of the University Archives’ upcoming 50th Anniversary in 2015, we bring you “The Twelve Days of Buckeyes.” This is the last of a series of 12 blog posts highlighting the people who were instrumental in the creation and growth of the Archives. Stay tuned for more posts and other announcements related to our anniversary celebration next year.)

Woody Hayes, 1963

Woody Hayes, 1963

It’s been nearly 30 years since Woody Hayes’ death, yet his legacy is still very much alive for many people. Even OSU students who hadn’t yet been born when he died in 1987 know about Hayes. And although many these days can’t name many details – such as the fact that he still has the most national championships of any OSU football coach – they almost invariably can recall that he was some kind of an important figure at the University.

We would like to think that the Archives contributes a little to this continuing legacy.

The Archives has housed the Woody Hayes Papers since 1990, when his widow, Anne, donated them to the University. The collection includes papers, books, awards, memorabilia, photos and other effects.

Anne Hayes, n.d.

Anne Hayes, n.d.

Though it is larger than most, the collection of roughly 75 boxes is very similar to the dozens of faculty and staff collections housed here. Each collection’s materials document the careers of the people who have worked at OSU. Like many of these collections, though, Hayes’ goes beyond mere documentation of a career. His materials reflect a person whose job title was coach, but whose contributions to the University and community went far beyond that. Consider:

– Photos from his own U.S. Navy service during World War II. In these, Hayes is incredibly young but already shows leadership skills that would he would use for 27 years as OSU football coach. (He achieved the rank of Lt. Commander and was in charge of both a patrol boat in the Palau Islands and a destroyer escort.)

Hayes, (center), with two unidentified men, n.d.

Hayes, (center), with two unidentified men during WWII

– A wooden clock with a plate inscribed “Bryant-Foust Crippled Children’s Day Award presented to Woody Hayes…,” given to him in 1986. Hayes was a big supporter of charities that involved children and regularly visited patients at Columbus’ Children’s Hospital.

Letter from Richard Nixon, 1979

Letter from Richard Nixon, 1979

Correspondence with VIPs that include the likes of Bob Hope and Richard Nixon, both of whom Hayes considered friends. Nixon even gave the eulogy at Hayes’ funeral.

Hayes at 1986 commencement

Hayes at 1986 commencement

– A videotape of Hayes’ speech at the 1986 Winter Commencement ceremony, just a year before he died. It shows a frail, elderly but grateful man who was still spurring people to “pay it forward.”

As Hayes’ encouraged, we at the Archives hope we can “pay it forward” to the community by not only preserving such materials but making them available to researchers, classes and the community for years to come.

To learn more about Woody Hayes, please see our web exhibit commemorating the anniversary of his 100th birthday

You can also read a transcript of his Commencement speech.


Twelve Days: Goerler’s dedication to OSU, its history, still endures

(In celebration of the University Archives’ upcoming 50th Anniversary in 2015, we bring you “The Twelve Days of Buckeyes.” This is day 11 in a series of 12 blog posts highlighting the people who were instrumental in the creation and growth of the Archives.)

Goerler in the University Archives/Book Depository stacks, 1998

Goerler in the University Archives/Book Depository stacks, 1998

When Raimund Goerler began his career as University Archivist in 1978, there were approximately 3,500 cubic feet of OSU historical materials spread among five rooms of Converse Hall. The Archives shared space with ROTC areas, such as the shooting range, that were not so friendly to quiet research. By the time he retired in 2010, the Archives included roughly 15,000 cubic feet of materials, housed in the Book Depository, a state-of-the art, climate-controlled compact shelving facility on Kenny Road.

It was partly because of Goerler that the Archives made the move. When the Libraries was planning to construct a building for the overflow of books from Thompson and departmental libraries in the late 1980s, Goerler suggested the Archives be included in the space. Despite how slowly the wheels of bureaucracy usually move at such a large institution, it apparently took a mere 24 hours for the powers-that-be to determine how good an idea it was and approve the addition, according to a 2011 oral history interview with then-Libraries Director William Studer.

Goerler and Ruth Owens, 1989

Goerler and Ruth Owens, 1989

The Archives moved to the Book Depository when it opened in 1995. The facility houses not only University records, but also high-profile University Archives collections like the Jesse Owens Papers and the Woody Hayes Papers, which Goerler was responsible for bringing to the Archives. And Goerler helped found two other valuable special collections: the Byrd Polar Research Center Archival Program in 1990 and the Ohio Congressional Archives in 1998. (That collection started with the John Glenn Archives.) Both collections are housed at the Depository.

Goerler also started the University Archives’ oral history program, capturing reflections and recollections of hundreds of Ohio State University faculty, staff, and students, and at least four of its former presidents.  He and his wife, Sharon, generously created an endowment to support the Archives’ oral history program. He began an OSU History class to teach undergraduate students more about their university (now there’s usually a waitlist), and he made countless presentations to alumni clubs throughout the nation while serving as University Archivist.

book_coverHis contributions were not limited to the Archives: He served as Associate Director of Special Collection for the Libraries from 2000 to 2010, and he was interim director of the Libraries in 2009, a pivotal period that included the completion of the renovation of Thompson Library and the seismic move of its staff and collections from their temporary digs on Ackerman Road back into the newly renovated building.

Throughout his career, Goerler authored a number of articles and books related to OSU history and polar history. His most notable – for the University Archives – is The Ohio State University – An Illustrated History, published in 2011 and now in its third printing. The book is an essential resource for researchers, (and the Archives staff when there’s a quick reference question to answer), and an ongoing source of income for the Archives: Goerler generously directed the royalties of the book to the University Archives.

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