Lest We Forget Project Videos, documenting History of Developmental Disabilities, Now Online

We are pleased to announce that oral history videos from the Lest We Forget Collection (MS-396), documenting the stories of individuals with mental retardation and developmental disabilities, have recently been digitized and are now freely available online, anytime, through the Wright State University Campus Online Repository, CORE Scholar.

Lest We Forget was a film and audio project that captured personal and historical reflections and remembrances of people with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities, their families, their advocates, and their communities who lived during the decades of statewide institutionalization and subsequent deinstitutionalization in Ohio. The goals of the project were to collect oral, video, and written histories of the personal stories of people with mental retardation who lived in a state institution for any period of time. The project also collected the stories of their family members, professionals who worked in the institutions and advocates who worked toward social and legislative change.

For a complete listing of the contents of the Lest We Forget Collection, please view the collection’s finding aid (PDF).

This digital project has been a collaborative effort between the University Libraries’ Special Collections & Archives and the University Libraries’ Digital Services Department, which provided the digitization, metadata encoding, and uploading of digital content to CORE Scholar.

Please visit the Special Collections & Archives’ CORE Scholar page to browse additional digital collections.

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WRIGHTSTOCK: The Festival of Life

Over the years I’ve heard many references to an infamous event in WSU’s early history, namely the “Wrightstock” festival. I had never been able, however, to find much documentation at all about this in the University Archives. Much of what I knew was based on rumor and second hand stories. But after a couple of coincidental discoveries while researching other topics, I began to dig a little deeper, utilizing back issues of The Guardian and The Dayton Daily News. I was able to slowly begin separating fact from fiction about what we knew, or thought we knew, about Wrightstock.

The first thing I discovered was the event was not infamous at all. It was in fact an official university event, organized by the WSU Student Government.  In May of 1970, Student Government organized the first WSU music festival, inviting a variety of bands from Dayton and the surrounding area to perform. The initial purpose was publicity for the young university and to attract young people out to campus to see what it was all about. The event, nicknamed “Wrightstock” by many of the attendees, was held on Achilles Hill, the large hill on the backside of the current Nutter Center property, and it was a big success. The following year the Student Government tried to build on that success by expanding the event to a three-day, 18 band outdoor music festival, officially titled “Wrightstock Reborn: The Festival of Life”. Proceeds from the festival were to be used to help fund a variety of student initiatives, including community service scholarships, a campus rescue unit, a drug abuse information program, and a book co-op, among other things.

It appears the event was a rather convincing emulation “with a wink” to the original Woodstock, right down to the Star Spangled Banner guitar solo, (which reportedly was AWFUL). The event began at 10am on Friday, April 30, running for three full days, ending at 8pm on Sunday, May 2. By all accounts, it was a giant, messy success. While we can’t confirm how many attendees there were, Student Government’s report to the Academic Council put the numbers at “35,000 over the course of the weekend, with a maximum of 8,000 at one time”. It also appears, however, that the event was a victim of its own success. Many complaints began surfacing after the conclusion of the event about the massive effort it took to organize, relegating Student Council to “a large group of concert promoters and event organizers”. There were large cost overruns, due largely to uncollected ticket sales: “Nearly 7/8 of the people got in free”. It was extremely unpopular with local residents, due to three days of loud music, large crowds, and the massive mess that was left behind. Billed as a “back to nature, earth-friendly event”, the clean up effort of Achilles Hill took many weeks and was badly criticized. In the end, it became fodder for Student Council candidates and the opinion pages in the Guardian, and not worth the associated risks for Council to continue.

While it lasted, though, it sure sounded like a pretty good time.


An ad for the Wrightstock Music Festival (The Guardian, April 7, 1971)wrightstock_ad April 7 1971


A weekend pass to Wrightstock (University Small Collections/Newman Center)wrightstock_2



Preparing for the 18 band music festival on Achilles Hill (Dayton Daily News, April 29, 1971)




Band stand being constructed (Dayton Daily News, May 1, 1971)




Festival goers at the Wrightstock Campsite (Dayton Daily News, May 2, 1971)



Band performing at Wrightstock Music Festival (University Times, May 7, 1971)wrightstock_5

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May Day! Saving Our Archives

MayDay_Archives_16On May 1st each year the archives community pledges to do an activity aimed at preparing for emergency situations.  In the past few decades, natural and man-made disasters have become increasingly common features in the news.  These disasters threaten lives, and with damage to property, potentially threaten our historical collections.

This year May 1st lands on a Sunday when our library is closed.  However, we still wanted to participate in this important day, even if it had to be planned a bit early.  So we observed May Day in April this year and planned an activity with the students in the Archival Preservation course here at Wright State.  What better way to participate in the May Day cause than to engage future archivists and museum curators in a staged surprise disaster in the archives?  Not only was it a great refresher for me as an archivist, but it hopefully gave students a memorable hands-on experience to take with them.

Once the disaster was found during a site walk-through exercise, the students organized themselves into roles for clearing space 20160411_191004for air drying, gathering supplies, hanging clothes line to clip photos and stronger leaflets, grabbing fans to increase air circulation, and removing items from the water logged area.  My role was to document it all with the camera and to record information on current conditions, cause of the disaster, and our response.  With the number of students and the amount of water damaged materials, they were able to air dry all of the items successfully.  They did a great job, and the following week we evaluated the condition of the dried photographs, newspapers, books, discs, and negatives to see how they  fared.  All survived, if not a bit crinkled, but could easily be used again.  I have to admit, our disaster was not like most disasters…the water was clean!

We have all heard the old saying that disasters are not a matter of if, but when.  As we know, disasters can easily happen at home, too.  On Sunday, I’ll be checking the bedroom closet where I keep my family’s archival treasures to make sure there are no signs of impending doom.  I keep the doors open to circulate the air and the lights off.  I will also be spending some time on Sunday getting my digital files off from my phone and camera, and backing the images up in four places (two off-site and two more at home).  I hope you will join me in doing something on Sunday to protect your own archives!  After that, I will be making up some May Day baskets with my boys and surprising some neighbors with another May Day tradition. Happy May Day everyone!


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