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.