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Relays Edition

Drakeapedia: building a living archive

Do you know the history of the Chancellor’s Elm? Did you know that Drake University was bombed in the 1970s by terrorists? Do you know the history of the Kissing Rock?

This past fall, students in the First-Year Seminar entitled “Drakeapedia – Building a Living Archive” researched different aspects of Drake’s history and found out such facts as those mentioned above and much more. By the end of the semester, students had compiled a Wiki of all their findings.

Susan Fink, Coordinator of Administration Services at Cowles Library, and Claudia Frazer, Digital Initiatives Librarian, created the FYS.

“Students, over the course of the semester, created a Wiki of Drake (history) by Drake for Drake,” Fink said.

Fink and Frazer assigned students different topics to study ranging from Drake artifacts, buildings, oral histories, organizations, people and traditions.

“I researched the Women’s Gym which was basically a field house for women’s gym classes. I also researched the history of The Times-Delphic, Ruby Ann Holton, a former professor; and the Chancellor’s Elm,” said Grace Jones, first-year student who was a part of the “Drakeapedia” FYS.

The Wiki is organized into six sections: Artifacts, Buildings, Oral Histories, Organizations, People and Traditions.

Students were assigned buildings to research and were able to choose what topics from the other sections they would like to research about.

“We wanted to teach students how to use the resources in the library, how to research and how to do oral histories,” Fink said.

The FYS also featured guest speakers and took field trips throughout the semester including one to the State Archives and Salisbury House. There, Fink and Frazier learned what they thought of as the most interesting piece of Drake history.

“When we were there, the guide was mumbling about some professor or dean (Alfred John Pearson) who had interviewed Hitler a couple days after Kristallnacht. We later found the New York Herald article that featured the interview,” Fink said.

For a complete history of Dr. Pearson and other topics researched in the FYS, visit the Drakeapedia website, http://drakeapedia.drake.wikispaces.net.

Touching the past

The Drakeapedia webpage contains a large amount of material related to Drake’s history across six sections. Here’s a quick glimpse into some of the fascinating stories available online.

Artifacts:Memorial Hall Time Capsule — When Memorial Hall was razed in 1996, a time capsule from 1905 containing a Bible, a copy of The Times-Delphic and other things was removed.

Oral histories:David Maxwell, Aaron Wies and Thomas Westbrook — Three Drake University superstars who have told their audio story to Drakeapedia in an easy-to-use, accessible format.

People: Barton O. Aylesworth — Drake’s president from 1894-1897 was well-liked by the student body because of a progressive attitude. He was the youngest college president in America.

Buildings: Bell Center — The Bell Center was constructed in 1977 to replace the Women’s Gym that was razed in 1975. A construction worker strike delayed the project by two months.

Organizations: Anime Club — The goal of the anime club when it was founded in 1995 was to promote Japanese animation in the Des Moines area. The club was revitalized in 2005.

Traditions: Hubbelling — When the first snowfall hits, students grab Hubbell trays and head down the hill amid the First-Year residence halls. The event has been chronicled for decades.

Check it out! http://drakeapedia.drake.wikispaces.net

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