This One’s For the Record Books

By Joe Flaherty

One afternoon last October, I descended the stairs of Davis Family Library for a foray into the College Archives. My purpose was an article on the Archives and its staff, but in truth I was simply curious about what the Archives was all about. Before that article debuted, I had not spent time in what I now realize is a treasure trove of documents, photographs, and recordings documenting the history of the College.

A classic saying in journalistic circles is that reporters write the first draft of history; for the College, this phrase is actually true. When speaking with the highly experienced team in the Archives, they explained that the Campus figures importantly into the research of students and faculty who wish to examine life at Middlebury throughout the past century. The role of this newspaper, I learned, is more than just breaking news stories and running articles having to do with the day-to-day life at a four-year liberal arts college. Many times, the archived copies of the Campus serve as an invaluable snapshot of the lives and opinions of the students and faculty who called this place home.

The papers in the basement of Davis Family Library have served as a crucial resource for many researchers, including me. Last January, I took on a research project on the origins of the Honor Code for a Winter Term course. I was in debt to the College Archives team, for the paper I produced relied on the copies of the Campus from the 1964 school year in order to hear the voices of students on the new Honor Code proposal. Additionally, students write award-winning theses on life in Vermont in bygone days every year by using material from the Archives, including the Campus.

It might seem antiquated to print a stack of newspapers every week given how a typical student primarily consumes news online. However, the historical value of a physical copy should not be underestimated. None of this is to say the Campus is ignoring the online medium. In fact, this year the Campus will continue to create video features and other dynamic content we will disseminate via Facebook and other social networks. We also hope to collaborate with online sources of campus news. Ultimately, no matter the format, you can rely on the Campus for in-depth stories you cannot find anywhere else. Editors spend countless hours each week to bring you insightful coverage in every section, not to mention discerning opinions from our Editorial Board.

As I take up the position of Editor-in-Chief, I want those interested in historical inquiry and those who simply want their voice heard to take heart. If you have something to say or an issue to explore through journalism, the Campus is where you can do it. Submit an Op-Ed – we welcome all opinions and strive for diversity in the letters we print. Join our skilled writing staff – you will be a part of a 109-year-old tradition of reporting the first draft of Middlebury history. Moreover, there is staying power in the ink on these pages. Someday, a junior in the class of 2064 may be reading your article to discover how students at the College lived “back in the day.”