Why more of our photo archives should be available online


Discourse about “the Ivy League look” feeds on the circulation of vintage photographs.  Blogs such as Ivy-Style and Unabashedly Prep routinely feature old Ivy campus photos for reference.

Much of the ‘Cac has been around just as long as the Ivies, and we have plenty of photos. In fact, when I was a Bowdoin prospie I spent time in the library’s special archives perusing old yearbooks. I have to say, I hope more of these photos find their way online, and not from the standpoint of fashion.

The Ivy League epitomizes American education to the rest of the world, and ‘Cac photos fall under the umbrella of “the Ivy League look” when fashion is the focal point of the conversation. However, if more  vintage ‘Cac photos become digitally available, those hoping for a deeper understanding of collegiate tradition could benefit from seeing what makes us unique.

We could benefit from seeing what makes us unique.

Like our history of inclusion. Bates College was founded by abolitionists, one of the first colleges to be coeducational from establishment in 1855. Let’s show the world pictures of that spirit of diversity.

My personal favorite Bowdoin story is the campus shut-down during the Vietnam War. Universities were so big that they had to accomplish protest by riot, we were a small community that took a stand via democratic vote. That’s special, and those photographs are a valuable piece of history. Like this Vietnam era photo from The Colby Echo:

Colby students marching through Waterville.

Maybe I’m just not looking hard enough, but if online media want to talk tradition let’s talk aesthetic but let’s also talk values. And the ‘Cac should have even more of these photos ready to illustrate OUR legacy of values to an internet generation.

Bowdoin students meet on the Quad to debate the war

Tailgating Amherst College football

ConnColl: Getting used to the opposite sex circa 1969

 

One thought on “Why more of our photo archives should be available online

  1. great post, hats off to you. who wants to take on the task of creating a cac lookbook? i’m sure anyone who petitioned could get a fellowship to do it, what with crazy endowments and everything. williams, i’m looking at you (and your massive endowment)

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