HighLights

Blogging to keep you informed about what's up at the High Library


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Early Commencement films

check out films showing early Etown commencements

check out films showing early Etown commencements

Housed in the Hess Archives in the lower level of the High Library are three 16mm films that recorded part of the commencement ceremonies for the 1943, 1948, and 1950 graduations. The library recently had the silent, black and white films digitized. The films, which are each less than three minutes long, were recently uploaded to the Internet Archive, and they are now available for online viewing.

Commencement 1943

Commencement 1948 (this film also has some footage of a student drama performance, possibly associated with Alumni Day or May Day).

Commencement 1950

 

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Sword of the Spirit

the sword of the spirit

the sword of the spirit

“Resting quietly in the archives of Elizabethtown College is a rusty old sword,” were the first words David Kenley and Peter DePuydt wrote in a 2010 article published in the Journal of Asian History. The long story behind this sword from China and how it came to be here is a tale of mystery that involved rebellion, death, guilt, and the power of redemption.

For many decades the sword quietly was kept in the archives, first in Rider Hall where the library was located until the College built the Zug Memorial Library in the early 1950s. The sword then moved to the High Library when it opened in 1990. Many years passed until one day in 2007 a gentleman came into the High Library and asked to see the sword. His name was Gene Wampler. The son of Brethren missionaries, Mr. Wampler had been raised in China during the 1930s and knew the story behind the sword. With Mr. Wampler’s help, its mystery began to unravel.

During the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900, a young man, only known to us now as “Mr. Li,” led a gang of young toughs.

Mr. Li and his sword

Mr. Li and his sword

In that uprising, Mr. Li used the sword to murder seven Christians, who were most likely Chinese converts. A number of years passed and Mr. Li eventually converted to Christianity sometime before the 1920s. In a 1921 letter, missionary Anna V. Blough, wrote of Mr. Li and his sword: “[He] recalls it with horror.” Mr. Li, who still possessed the sword in the 1920s, eventually gave the weapon to another Brethren missionary, Isaiah Oberholtzer, who was an Elizabethtown College graduate.

Mr. Oberholtzer (far left, front) and Mr. Li (center)

Mr. Oberholtzer (far left, front) and Mr. Li (center)

Isaiah Oberholtzer returned to Elizabethtown for a visit sometime around 1932, and at that time he donated Mr. Li’s sword to the College. The weapon’s history was lost as the years passed by until that fateful day in 2007 when Gene Wampler stopped by the library to see the final resting place of Mr. Li’s sword. On the sword’s blade is a typewritten note that reads in part: “Mr. Li has preserved this sword all of these years with a growing remorse upon his conscience. The sight of it has haunted him. But he takes [comfort] in another sword. The Sword of the Spirit, and rejoice in it.” Thus the power of redemption allowed one man to ease the burden of his troubled soul.


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Dedication … The Earl and Anita Hess Archives

The new Archives is named for Anita Hess ‘53 and her late husband Earl Hess.  Here Anita is shown at the ribbon cutting with President Carl Strikwerda.

The new Archives is named for Anita Hess ‘53 and her late husband Earl Hess. Here Anita is shown at the ribbon cutting with President Carl Strikwerda.

On Monday, November 3rd, the High Library staff was excited to celebrate the official dedication of the Earl H. & Anita F. Hess Archives and Special Collections.  The afternoon included a dessert reception with fantastic music by Marissa Jones ’15 and Frank Zarefoss ’15, a dedication ceremony, ribbon cutting, and tours of the Hess Archives.  The new facility combines our College Archives and Special Collections with the rare book and manuscript holdings of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies.  The dedication was a wonderful chance to celebrate the generous donors and College community members who made the new Archives possible, the Facilities crew who worked tirelessly to construct the new space, as well as the staff of the Library and Young Center who coordinated the move.

 

The Hess Archives is climate controlled for optimum preservation conditions and features a state of the art fire suppression system. Materials are housed in a series of compact, moveable shelving, which allows us to maximize the storage space.  The Hess Archives also includes a beautiful reading room with plenty of space for researchers, a processing area, and an office for our new Archivist.  We will be working on a variety of projects over the next year to organize the materials and make them accessible to researchers.

 

Interested in learning more about the Hess Archives and our unique holdings? Contact the Archivist, Rachel Grove Rohrbaugh at grover@etown.edu or x1506.  Also, feel free to stop by Rachel’s office adjacent to the Hess Archives on level 1 of the High Library.

 

High Library Director Sarah Penniman speaks at the dedication ceremony in the Winters Alcove.  Young Center Director Jeff Bach looks on.

High Library Director Sarah Penniman speaks at the dedication ceremony in the Winters Alcove. Young Center Director Jeff Bach looks on.