A piece of the past

Here in the Archives we receive many donations – some are what might be expected – an old letter sweater or an old journal. Some of our donations are just plain odd – like the collection of bricks from Kingery Hall or the old ventilation grate from Center Hall. One of the odder pieces in our collection is the Halls Mentholyptus from Bryon Trippet’s commencement regalia. I found it when we pulled some of his things out for the dedication of Trippet Hall.

But sometimes the things we get are more like voices from the past.  This envelope is just such a piece.

A great deal of the business of the college is transacted via these inter-office correspondence envelopes. Jim Amidon brought this envelope over to the Archives because, despite its lowly function, it has captured a large piece of history.

The first name on the list is President Salter. Lew Salter was the 12th President of Wabash College. He served from 1978-1988. In 1988 Salter became the only Chancellor in Wabash history. That is the third entry on the envelope so we know that this envelope was in service during the year 1988-1989. When Lew Salter became Chancellor, Vic Powell stepped up into the presidency. We also see that entry – President Powell.

This envelope and hundreds like it fly around campus every day. It is not at all uncommon to see names of people who have left the college. Or in the case of President Salter who are no longer among the living. So as I look down the list, I see Don Dake who died just this week and Paul McKinney who died a few years ago.

When I encounter an envelope with such names, I do what Jim Amidon did, I stop to reflect a minute on the lives of those now gone. It was thoughtful of Jim to pass along this envelope as it is truly a snapshot of the past.It captures in just a few names, a huge piece of our history.

It will be saved as an artifact and will, someday, serve to tell a story about that time in the history of Wabash.

Thanks Jim!


Beth Swift


Wabash College

Crawfordsville, IN

  1. Andrew Forrester

    Very cool!

  2. I loved reading this post. As a Wabash student and worker in the Athletic Office I came into contact with these envelopes many times. One of my standard habits was to read where the envelope had been. I always had the sense that I was touching real history. Great Post!

  3. It appears that Clint Gasaway and John Fischer are also on the envelope. Both of these men have given much time and effort to my fraternity (Lambda Chi Alpha). Great piece Beth!

  4. And for me, how interesting to be one of those on the envelope who is still around, still remembers all of those people, and as of December 31, will ALSO be history, as I retire after using those same envelopes since 1979!! By the way, this explains why I can never FIND enough of these envelopes; clearly people are collecting them as historical artifacts!

  5. Martin Tuohy '91

    Beth — thank you for sharing this with all of us. It’s interesting how such a mundane, disposable thing as an envelope can represent so many memories to those who knew these people, and convey a story to those who might not have known these people personally.
    Just seeing President Salter’s name, for example, brings up warm, wonderful memories of sitting with him in the rhythm section of the Wabash pep band up in the football stadium stands on Saturday afternoons, and especially the memory of his warm smile — drumming a press roll on his snare drum as a team prepared to kick off, or a pat on the shoulder as we packed up instruments in their cases, or a smile of recognition while passing in the hallway of Center Hall on a busy Monday morning.
    Thanks for relaying that story.

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