Wednesday October 19, 2016

Time Travel in the Archives

By Carol Williamson

It is amazing what you can find in the archives. Map books from the 1920s and 1930s, an old photograph of Abraham Lincoln, papal bulls from the 15th century, and drawings of herbs from the ninth century.

During the summer of 2016, I spent a few hours working in University Archives and Special Collections. It opened my eyes to the items the University has and gave me a chance to use my background in archives and preservation.

Of interest to me was a box of individual leaves of pictures of herbs, originating from the ninth to the 18th centuries, gathered by a priest by the last name of Beissel (first name and affiliation not recorded), and acquired by UD in 1959. This was a unique acquisition for the University.

I was fascinated by three papal bulls dated 1415, 1524 and 1570, which came with documentation and donor information. A papal bull is a particular type of letter patent or charter issued by a pope of the Roman Catholic Church. It is named after the lead seal (bulla) that was appended to the end in order to authenticate it.

I also saw student drawings for engineering projects dating back to 1901. They didn’t make sense to me but were interesting to see.  

These items and many others are available to all to see. Set up an appointment in the University Archives by emailing archives@udayton.edu.

- Carol Williamson, Reference Assistant

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