This year has been quite different, and so is this post. Late December usually finds us digging deep into the collections to share some witty holiday cheer, and tangible reminders of the past at Dear Old RPI. However, this year proved to be a head scratcher, and we weren’t sure what to write about! Plus, we simply didn't have the luxury of combing through the collections to craft an historical sketch of life on campus to share before we all break for the holidays.
Allow me to reminisce! Usually by this time every year, campus would have been bustling with parties and get-togethers of all kinds. Speaking for the archivists, I can say we would have had two Thanksgiving meals on campus (plus our own family affairs), we would have taken our student assistants out for a buffet lunch at Shalimar, there would have been a grand holiday party at ECAV courtesy of Dr. Jackson, and the DotCIO staff holiday party would have overrun Folsom Library. All of this to bid us a fond farewell before the much-needed winter break.
In contrast, it's been very quiet on campus this year. In fact, the largest crowd I've seen is a small herd of deer walking slowly across the plaza between the VCC and Folsom Library as they were heading to the shrubs for their own feast. What a pleasure to witness, and I was thrilled to see them enjoying the food! Nevertheless, watching them feast together, in close proximity to one another was certainly a contrast to the lack of our own festivities this year. And so, regardless of our separate togetherness, the DotCIO staff had a nice virtual gathering this year to not only acknowledge one another and admit that this past year has been hard for all of us, but also that we appreciate one another and the work we do!
I think this year we have all learned to celebrate the present moment for a bit, until it too becomes history. The images I've included in this post may seem simple, or ordinary, but I assure you - they too will become part of the Archives at Rensselaer and one day we'll look back at 2020, the way we do for the pandemic of 1919 to peek at a time period of Rensselaer's history and say "we got through that too!"
Be well, Happy Holidays everyone. The Archives is alive, collecting and documenting through this strange time. We have to!