A Day in the Life of the Archives, February 15, 2018

We often get asked what a typical day in the Archives is like and, believe it or not, it is hard to describe just a single day in the life of SC&A. However, yesterday is a great example of a “typical day” with a reading room full of researchers, both Wright State University students and members of the community, Wilbear visitors getting their passports stamped, special guests, and outreach activities.

The day started with a visit from artist Reginald Harmon, who recently sculpted a bust of Paul Laurence Dunbar (we are having a dedication of the bust next Wednesday, February 21, from 3:30-5pm here in the reading room). Mr. Harmon was here to look at Dunbar material and be interviewed by the Wright State Newsroom.

Dawne sharing information with Reginald Harmon.

The afternoon kicked off with Dawne Dewey, head of SC&A, leading a tour of our space and collections for members of the Centerville-Washington Township Historical Society. Highlights included viewing photographs, letters, diaries, local government records, historic newspapers on microfilm, and, of course, items from the Wright Brothers Collection (MS-1). The group also had the opportunity to go behind the scenes and see our storage and work areas.

Centerville-Washington Township tour group.

While the tour was going on upstairs, Bill Stolz, archivist for reference and outreach, was downstairs presenting to an undergraduate English class on Paul Laurence Dunbar and archival material that can be used for their class projects. The class is focusing  on the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar and a “sense of place.” The students are researching areas of Dayton where Dunbar spent time and, possibly, was inspired to write a poem.

Powerpoint for English 4110 class.

As you can imagine, it was a busy day in Archives, but definitely not out of the ordinary. If you have yet to visit SC&A, but would like to stop in to have your Wilbear passport stamped, view the Wright Brothers exhibits, schedule a group or class tour, or conduct research, we are located on the 4th floor of Dunbar Library. The reading room  is open Monday-Friday from 8:30am-5pm and Wednesday evenings during the semester until 9pm.

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A Celebration of Paul Laurence Dunbar, February 21, 2018

Join us on Wednesday, February 21, from 3:30pm-5:00pm for A Celebration of Paul Laurence Dunbar and African American History. The event will take place in the SC&A reading room located on the 4th floor of Dunbar Library.  A brief program and dedication of the Paul Laurence Dunbar bust by artist Reginald Harmon will begin at 3:45pm. For questions, please call 937-775-2092. We hope to see you next Wednesday!

This event is a collaboration between the Small Business Development Center, The Bolinga Center, University Libraries, and Special Collections & Archives.

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Flying Stories from Phoenix, Arizona, December 14-17, 2017

On Saturday, December 16, I was privileged to be the speaker for the annual Wright Brothers Anniversary of Flight Dinner for the Phoenix Wing of the American Aviation Historical Society in Phoenix, Arizona. While there, I visited WWII veteran, Ole Griffith. Ole is donating his aviation collection to Wright State University.

Ole introduced me to many aviators, veterans, and plenty of folks who just like flying. Don Gray, volunteer at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, was my guide for the weekend.

My first stop was the Anthem Veterans Memorial. Located in Anthem, Arizona, it is dedicated to honoring the sacrifice and service made by members of the United States Armed Forces. The memorial’s five white pillars represent the nation’s military branches and are arranged in Department of Defense order of precedence: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Each pillar has an elliptical opening that slants downward toward The Great Seal of the United States. On Veterans Day (November 11) the design allows the sun’s rays to spotlight the Great Seal at precisely 11:11 AM.

Our next stop was the Commemorative Air Force Museum at Falcon Field. Captain Billy Walker was our guide. The CAF Museum, Airbase Arizona, is an amazing place! I was honored to be able to climb inside a B-25 (Maid in the Shade), B-17 (Sentimental Journey), and C-47. They even let me sit in the left seat in the C-47! The Commemorative Air Force Museum is a remarkable place with a crew of 500 volunteers whose passion is making these old aircraft flyable. There are 78 units located across the country. The CAF was founded to “acquire, restore and preserve in flying condition a complete collection of combat aircraft which were flown by all military services of the United States, and selected aircraft of other nations, for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations of Americans.”

Another great aviation site near Phoenix is Goodyear Airport in Maricopa County. Ryan Reeves, Airport Coordinator at Buckeye Municipal Airport, was my guide at the Goodyear Airport. He knows just about everything there is to know about its history. It was originally constructed during World War II as a naval air facility known as NAF Litchfield Park, and later renamed Naval Air Station Litchfield Park.

Ryan showed us the many buildings on the airport and told us the history behind the facility. We drove through the airship hangar and walked the boneyard area of the field.

The boneyard is littered with the remnants of thousands of aircraft. Ryan found this seatbelt strap off an old aircraft the day we walked the field.

Ryan Reeves and Dawne

For the first time ever, I got to fly on December 17, 2017. Thanks, Wil and Orv, for making my flight possible.

Dawne in flight on December 17

I had an amazing trip and learned a great deal about the aviation history of Phoenix. If you are ever in Phoenix, be sure to visit both the Commemorative Air Force at Falcon Field and the Goodyear Airport. My presentation on Saturday night to the Phoenix Wing of the AAHS gave me the opportunity to tell some aviation stories from the great aviation history collections here at Wright State University.

I also got to meet Sergei Sikorsky, son of Igor Sikorsky, aviation pioneer in helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. He autographed this poster for me. Ole Griffith knows everybody!

Sergei Sikorsky

Thanks, Ole, for introducing me to so many fascinating people who love aviation. Thank you to Don Gray for being my guide and driver in Phoenix, thank you Captain Billy Walker and Ryan Reeves for taking time to teach me more aviation history, and thank you to the Phoenix Wing of the American Aviation Historical Society for inviting me to come to speak to your group.

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