A finger pointing at a ledger from 1881
June 14, 2022

The Primary Source

Inside Andover’s Archives and Special Collections

As the repository of the school’s historical records and rare books (plus the assorted oddity), the Andover Archives and Special Collections offers students opportunities to delve into primary sources and work with an in-house archivist—unique even among independent schools.

The archives moved during the recent renovation of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library from a dusty nook on the third floor to a prominent first-floor location just off the lobby.

The impact? Today’s students are partnering with faculty to hone skills in original research, information literacy, and critical thinking across multiple disciplines—all while bringing thousands of archival materials closer to the PA community than ever before.

Corrie Martin’s English elective Placing Asian America: Ethnic Enclaves in Literature and Film is one of more than 20 courses that visited the archives this year—with her students inspecting a 400-year-old map of Asia as part of their studies. Such class visits are much more feasible thanks to a spacious new classroom dedicated to teaching with exceptional and often fragile primary source materials.
Students in religion and history courses may examine the Eliot Bible, a version of the New Testament translated into Algonquian in 1661. Just one of 10 or so still extant, this Bible illustrates the rarity of some of Andover’s holdings.
Sent to former head of school John Kemper in 1959, this Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA) High School Kit contains radiological instruments for detecting nuclear fallout. The kit, an important artifact of the Cold War, helps Andover students understand the palpable fear of nuclear weapons during the 1950s and 1960s.
Archives Director Paige Roberts guides Chloe ’24 through documents belonging to Henry Stimson, Class of 1884, who was president of the Academy’s Board of Trustees at the same time he served as U.S. secretary of war during WWII. Chloe’s work is the first substantive primary source research project for the Academy’s Committee on Challenging Histories.

Originally printed in The Vista: Views from the Knowledge & Goodness Campaign, spring 2022.

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