Caring for Archival Collections

A recent acquisition of some old Academy images  brought up some thorny problems. The photographs, taken by Edwin L. Cunningham in the early 1900s, were in very rough shape, with prints exhibiting extensive waterstaining, thick layers of surface grime, and in some cases, obvious mold growth, and glass plate negatives which were either broken or rendered entirely useless by having been stuck together for decades. While we accepted many of the images for scanning, once completed, they were returned to the donor as they were pretty much at the point where physically restoring them would have been either been prohibitively expensive, or in most cases, an act of futility.

Once we had good “master” scans of the images (meaning that no editing is done besides rotating and cropping), we set about making “user” copies, where we employed some fairly basic Photoshop techniques to make the images usable again for possible online publication and/or physical printing. Deciding exactly how much editing to do can be a tricky business, but we tended to be a bit conservative on this project. Basically, we simply tried to minimize the most visually damaged elements, rather than attempting to bring the images back to a pristine state.

Click the images below to see large versions, and a read a terrific Q&A on how to handle some of your own photograph/document collections here.

Three Scrapbooks Given to the Archives

Student scrapbooks often reflect aspects of student life that are not well represented in any other way.  The Academy Archives has a collection of nearly seventy student scrapbooks, dating from 1838 to 1972.  Since the beginning of this academic year, three more scrapbooks have been given to the Archives.

Mr. Norris Guansey “Norry” Nims, Class of 1931, presented a scrapbook that he maintained from Fall 1927 through Spring 1931.  Of particular interest was his mention of an epidemic of German measles at Andover during the winter of 1928/29.  Mr. Nims also presented a number of photographs that he took while he was at Exeter, along with an official transfer to Exeter of copyright to the photographs. 

Mr. Edward M. Lamont, Class of 1944, presented a scrapbook that was maintained by his father, Mr. Thomas W. Lamont Class of 1888.  His scrapbook contains numerous invitations, programs and record of events that took place from the fall of 1884 through June 1887.  Of special note are five mounted 8” x 10” photographs, and a receipt for $22 for his tuition for one term ($20), and his gymnasium locker fee ($2).  The Archives also has six letters that he wrote to his parents while at Exeter from a previous gift.  Mr. T.W. Lamont served as a trustee from 1917-1946 and as president of the trustees from 1935-1946.

Mr. Michael Creem, Class of 1949, purchased another interesting scrapbook on eBay and presented it to the Archives.  This scrapbook, maintained by Percy C. Rogers from early 1928 through early 1937, contains numerous clippings, programs, telegrams, invitations, notes, letters and photographs.  Some items refer to Academy athletic events, while other items document events and organizations in the town of Exeter.  Mr. Rogers taught French and Spanish at the Academy from 1923 to 1966.  In 1943 he was appointed chairman of the Academy’s first public relations committee.  For many years his well-prepared press reports kept the public informed of happenings at the Academy.  There were already in the Archives twenty scrapbooks that Mr. Rogers maintained from 1943 to 1954 while serving in that capacity.
Please click on the images below to see larger versions.

The Story Behind KEP House

An early KEP logo
An early KEP logo

Walking past 8 Elliot Street, you may have noticed an Academy sign that reads “KEP House” and wondered what KEP signified.  Are K-E-P perhaps the initials of some administrator or alumnus from Exeter’s past? The answer can be found in the Academy Archives in the pages of old Exeter Bulletins and PEAN yearbooks.  Here one discovers that KEP stands for Kappa Epsilon Pi and that the building at #8 was the home of the KEP fraternity, one of 6 fraternities that existed at Exeter about 100 years ago. 

The history of the fraternity system at Exeter is an interesting story that reflects some of the social changes that have occurred at the school.  In the 1870s, when many students lived in town homes, several “secret” societies were formed by students at Exeter as a way for them to gather and socialize.  Because these societies began to pose a discipline problem, Principal Fish abolished them in 1891.  However, in 1896, Principal Amen lifted the ban on these groups and allowed fraternities to form once again with closer faculty supervision.  Eventually, there were 6 fraternities—Phi Epsilon Sigma, Kappa Epsilon Pi, Kappa Delta Pi, Kappa Beta Nu, Alpha Nu, and Phi Theta Psi—each of which rented rooms in various homes near the Academy. 

Finally, in 1942, the faculty voted to close all fraternities.  By this point, all Academy students were housed in dormitories, providing more opportunities for friendships and social interaction.  There had also been an increase in the number of clubs and student organizations.  The house in which KEP met on Elliot Street was purchased by the Academy in 1944 and is today a faculty residence. 

The KEP Fraternity in 1934
The KEP Fraternity in 1934
KEP House today
KEP House today