Pieces of our past

Pieces of Our Past

A handmade wheelchair. A jar of broken glass. Currency from the Grantham National Bank. Those are just a few of the items found in the 70-year-old Archives of Messiah College.

More than 100 years have passed since founder S.R. Smith first opened the doors to the Messiah Bible School and Missionary Training home. Since then, the College has gone through several name changes and has grown exponentially. So how then do we keep track of the pieces of Messiah’s past? And what helps us tell the story of our beloved institution?

Many of the answers come from the Archives of Messiah College. Located in the ground floor of Murray Library and Learning Commons, the Archives holds the official records of the College’s governing boards, administrative and educational departments, and student organizations. It’s also a repository of photos, records, periodicals and artifacts that give us intriguing insight into Messiah’s history. From penmanship profiles to cheerleading uniforms and everything between, the archives is a key to the College’s past.

History of the Archives

In 1942, Clara Hoffman, the College’s first librarian, and her sister Mary began to collect objects for a small museum. Their small collection spurred the formal establishment of the Archives of Messiah College and the Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives in 1946 when Mary Hoffman was named its first curator.

Today, the two combined archives seek to collect and preserve many types of materials that reflect the College’s history and heritage. These dual resources, which are accessible to students, maintain a cultural memory of the relationship between the denomination and college.

Director of the Archives Glen Pierce ’70 oversees the archives and all of its pieces. When an item arrives, he examines it, determines if it is a good fit and, if so, collects and catalogs information about it. Only then does an item become an official part of the College archives. Most of the time the items are in good shape, but, if needed, the item will be restored as close to its original state as possible. With each new object cataloged into the records, viewers get a fresh insight into the rich past of Messiah College—whether it’s from the days of Messiah Bible School and Missionary Training Home, Messiah Bible School or Messiah College.

Take a look at more unique pieces

Ask the Archivist

Director of the Archives Glen Pierce ’70 has overseen the day-to-day operations of both the Archives of Messiah College and the Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives since 2007.

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Pieces of Our Past - The Bridge