The History of the History
9 February 2012
Our Center is over 50 years old. In half a century, stuff piles up. It is like a great aunt's favorite china teapot, many times over. Each bit of stuff is too precious to discard, but no one actually wants to use it. Our teapots are spare copies of flyers, posters, conference programs, and undistributed copies of Center books. They were stacked in boxes in the Center's secret vault, rising toward the ceiling.
The time was coming, Joyce had been warning me, for us to clean house. Now the time had come. First to be pulled from the vault were the undistributed volumes. They were given to any willing hands. Bryan had written the invitation on our Center lounge whiteboard in one of the lunches:
FREE BOOKS NOW!
Then today, I'd been hearing the clatter from Joyce and Courtney, busy in the conference room next to my office. I walked into the room to find the two rows of tables neatly covered with piles of paper. It took me a moment to realize what I was looking at. The sun was streaming through the Gothic windows onto decades of our history.
Joyce and Courtney had been organizing the old flyers, leaflets and programs by year.
I drifted slowly past the piles and was thrown back in time. I felt like an archaeologist excavating through the layers.
"Oh look," I called out, "it's Joe Camp!"
"I remember that Einstein conference. I put that on before I was Director."
We will keep several copies of each. But beyond that, everything will go.
This was serious filing. We have to discard, but we also have to preserve our history. These are our relics. I was pleased to see that Joyce and Courtney understood the importance of the project. One program, I noted with satisfaction, had a sticky tag that announced "only 1."
Our longer term plan is to scan everything and add it to our website, so that anyone, anywhere can take the walk I am taking now.
John D. Norton