Connecticut state archivist shares her knowledge on preserving history

On October 17, 14 archivists from across Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York gathered in the Kingswood Oxford library to collaborate on their roles and exchange experiences and best practices. Participants came from Trinity-Pawling, Choate, Avon Old Farms, Taft, Chase Collegiate, Suffield Academy, and Northfield Mt. Hermon. The visit was orchestrated by Kingswood Oxford faculty member Brenda Semmelrock, who has been spearheading the school's archival collection since March of 2012. Under Semmelrock's watchful eye, the collection has expanded exponentially.

The group heard from guest speaker Connecticut State Archivist Lizette Pelletier, who delivered a comprehensive presentation on the archives - a multilayered area arguably in need of more focus, organization, and deliberate process than often realized or appreciated. Pelletier addressed must-haves for an archivist like a mission statement, use, and accession policy and standards. She also talked about archive principals, arrangement, presentation, and perhaps most importantly how to properly preserve these historical and priceless items to keep them in as good of condition as possible. Throughout her presentation, one thing remained a theme: the extraordinary care, attention and deliberate organizational method essential to in keeping and maintaining a good archival collection.

Pelletier has over thirty years of experience in the field of archives and records management with the State of Connecticut. She also serves on the State Library’s Disaster Preparedness Committee and on the steering committee for the Connecticut Coordinated Statewide Emergency Preparedness [CoSTEP-CT] which promotes cooperation between Connecticut’s first responders and cultural heritage organizations to protect and save cultural treasures during emergencies.
 
Semmelrock said, “Lizette's presentation was a great overview of what the role of an archivist really is all about. There is a lot more to it than just collecting memorabilia for display! All of us were reminded that our job of preserving our individual school's past and sharing it with the school community is an important one."

The day concluded with a tour of the Kingswood Oxford archives. By definition, archives mean “permanently valuable records or organization, business or government.” But the historical, anecdotal and emotional ties to the past these collections carry with them gives far more meaning to that definition. These letters, pictures, items, reports, and notes paint the picture of the past and create the framework for how things came to be. 
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Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers, and ethical leaders. KO: where unlimited potential meets endless opportunities.
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