The glee club of Moravian College in 1920. At far left,
William Schwarze, who would
become the sixth
President of the College (1928-44).
John Weeren, Moravian’s first professional
archivist, is ready to spotlight his work with an archival
exhibit, the first to be held in Payne Gallery, of materials
from the 260-year-old vaults
of Moravian College.
“Buried Treasure: Discovering the Moravian
College Archives,” which
October 23 and runs through November 30, comprises almost 90 objects, mostly
paper, but also banners, posters, a painting, a photo album, and an ornate
The oldest piece is a letter from Count Zinzendorf
written when he himself was a student, in 1716; the newest,
an aerial photograph of the College taken
2002. The exhibit includes the earliest known Moravian Theological Seminary
class schedule (1808) and the first minutes of a faculty meeting (1858).
the photograph album of William Gerdsen ’30, in which he captured campus
life of his time, and a color film about the College, made in 1948. This
has been transferred to videotape and will play in a continuous loop during
John, a soft-voiced Canadian who says “abote,” has
an undergraduate degree in history and Spanish from Dalhousie
University in Nova Scotia and
a master’s degree in history from the University of British Columbia.
his professional credentials have been earned in archival work, from
a small community museum in Nova Scotia to the National
Archives of Canada
Since 1994, he has been an archivist at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript
Library at Princeton University. He continues there on
a part-time basis since
moving to the Lehigh Valley.
In 2002, he succeeded Dan Gilbert, professor
emeritus of history, who started the College archives
in 1988. John works one day a week. He also
archival consultant to the Bethlehem Area Public Library.
To put it
kindly, the Moravian College archives need work. Archival
materials have come from hiding places all over campus,
overwhelming John’s small office, spilling onto tables,
the tops of filing cabinets, and the floor.
find in the attic of the Brethren’s House was a collection
of mid-19th-century instructional charts, two of which
will be featured in the exhibit. Bound
copies of The Comenian, dating back to 1891, and The Belfry (its
counterpart at Moravian College for Women) were rescued
from the open stacks at Reeves Library.
“One of his greatest contributions,” John
says of Dan Gilbert, “was
to gather materials and save them from the dumpster. Now
they need to be fully arranged and described.”
Time is now
John’s most pressing need, but he is hopeful that resources
can be found to expand the hours of the archives.
Some of the more unusual items in the exhibit:
• A certificate of discharge from the Continental Army, signed by George
• The armchair, with a 1924 photograph of it in Main Hall.
• The check issued to Alice Kent Stoddart in 1936 for the portrait of President
Hamilton that now hangs in Comenius Hall.
• A blueprint for Harvey Memorial Library, which was added to Comenius
• A Spanish-American War broadside (1898) calling for a rally.
“It’s exciting to delve into the past and create as complete a road
map as we can of what has come before,” John says. “That’s
what I love about archives. They contain the raw material of history. ”