New College memory stays alive within the NCSA Archives

New College memory stays alive within the NCSA Archives

One of the lesser known but more interesting parts of New College sits in a series of drawers in a small, closet-like office at the Old Mail Room (OMR) inside the Hamilton “Ham” Center. The New College Student Alliance (NCSA) Archives contains history of the college from the 1960s to the present day. Decades of archival information are in the process of being reorganized and digitized. Although there was not an archivist serving for the student government in the 2020 – 2021 academic year, third-year Emma Halbisen—with an Area of Concentration (AOC) in Urban Studies & Community Development—is in the process of updating and restoring the archives to the present day, and is serving as the access point between students and the loads of information stored from years past. She also sends weekly emails to the student body highlighting artifacts that may capture attention and bring interest to the archives.

While the NCSA Archivist position is currently unpaid due to recent budget cuts, Halbisen demonstrates a passion for preserving the history of the unique and different community that defines New College. She not only works as the Archivist, but for multiple other positions within the student staff that assist in promoting a stronger sense of student life community.

“I have an interest in photography, community building and engagement,” Halbisen stated. “I’m on the New College Challenge team, am the Photography Club Co-President and the Creative Assistant for the Marketing Committee. I wanted to focus on community, and the archives show how we display community through the college.”

There are a variety of subjects that are stored in the archives. Halbisen listed categories of information being kept such as student publications, student photos, letters and memos dating back to the early ‘70s, student affairs documents and pieces of Center of the Universe Party (COUP) and Wall history.

“We have everything back to the ‘60s,” Halbisen said. “When we got to the ‘70s, it really shifted towards student life. There were and still are clubs that have a good representation here. We have so many documents like designs, magazines [and] poetry books that are beautifully done and were shared to fund COUPs, Walls and personal student work. We have all our town meetings; we used to even have a yearbook which was called ‘Facebook.’”

The NCSA Archives continues to look for information that would be considered important to the culture and student life of New College. They accept any form of donation as long as it has to do with the students, organizations or events pertaining to the college. If the donation is important enough to the history of the school, the community or is otherwise something with sentimental value, Halbisen has said that she can make it work in the context of its necessity.

“We do have the opportunity to backlog,” she added. “If you have stuff from previous events in the community, assess if it’s necessary to bring 50 photos of your personal photos versus 50 photos of an organization.”

As for the digitization of said photos, it is a process that takes a lot of time and funding. Halbisen recommends that any photos brought as a donation to the Archive office should be given as physical copies.

“We haven’t gotten to a point where we can backlog the physical archives digitally,” she explained. “We haven’t gone through most of the photos.”

The Archive office is filled with abstract memories; there is a random door leaning against the wall, a printer that only copies, several large drawers filled with files, a desk and a bunch of student artwork posted on the walls. However, Halbisen is currently having trouble maintaining enough physical space in the office to store additional documents, and there is an effort being made to shift folders including theses and administrative documents to the Jane Bancroft Cook Library instead. Halbisen wants the space in the Archives office to focus more on documentation that reflects student life and the community.

“I could confidently provide one file cabinet for 2020 -2022,” she stated. “We need to find space to expand in the office.”

“It helps to find culture in the past, present and future,” she continued, elaborating on the importance of the Archives. “It’s a good definition as to what we are and what our students focus on. It’s also important to acknowledge how strong our student body is and how our morals have not changed.”

Students can access the archives openly at Halbisen’s office hours on Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. She can also be contacted through email if a student would like to access the archives outside her office hours.

If something should be permanently imprinted in the history of New College of Florida, donations are always welcome to the Archive office, and any questions about the Archives can be directed to Halbisen herself. Go ahead and make some memories!

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