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Eaglebrook taking advantage of Roving Archivist grant

  • Eaglebrook Library & Archive Director Anna Bognolo, Roving Archivist Sarah-Jane Poindexter, teacher Rachel Blain and Eaglebrook Headmaster Andrew Chase. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO



Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 02, 2019

DEERFIELD — A century provides much time to accrue records and documents that chronicle an organization’s story. Eaglebrook School, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2022, is no exception.

The junior boarding and day school for boys is then left with the challenge of preserving such articles from yesteryear. So it came as a relief to school officials to hear their institution was the recipient of a non-monetary Roving Archivist Program grant sponsored by the Massachusetts State Historical Records Advisory Board.

The program arranges for a professional archivist to visit public and private Massachusetts institutions to advise arrangement, description and preservation of historical records.

Roving Archivist Sarah-Jane Poindexter, who works for the records agency out of Northampton, has been assigned to Eaglebrook to help elevate the visibility and care of the historical documents that have been saved since the school’s founding in 1922. She first visited the school in February to assist in the long-term preservation of the materials.

Poindexter said she has worked with Eaglebrook Library & Archive Director Anna Bognolo to determine proper housing and treatment of the items, which Bognolo said include old acceptance letters, yearbooks, letters between headmaster and students, photographs and alumni newsletters. Bognolo said the materials have been stored in campus dormitories.

Poindexter explained she has also advised the school on how to arrange and describe materials so they can be found easily by researchers and so their content will be accessible “both intellectually and physically.” The collections will be used for building curricula and exhibits, and engaging alumni and the community.

Bognolo described Poindexter as a kind of mentor and guide “given to me by the state.”

“To me, that’s priceless,” she said.

Poindexter said the Roving Archivist Program is for institutions that have “these wonderful cultural resources and historical records but don’t necessarily have a professional archivist or an archives program in place, and are daunted by how to proceed with this and what to know about best practices.”

Roving Archivist services started in April 2017, according to the historical records agency’s blog. Poindexter said there is no finite end date for the grant, and she foresees “an ongoing partnership.”

Poindexter said it has been great to get to know Eaglebrook through its records. She noted it was striking to see the continuity of traditions, such as the school’s Winter Carnival and Parents’ Weekend.

“When I roved to their campus, they were excitedly preparing for this annual event,” she said.

Poindexter was assessing archival collections when she came across historic images of young men from previous generations, competing in feats of winter daring and teamwork. One particular black-and-white image from the 1940s depicts a sled full of boys suspended in the air, presumably as they launch from a slope. Poindexter described how their bundled-up faces reveal a mixture of youthful exuberance and determination.