Oct. 4 is #AskAnArchivist Day

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On Wednesday, Oct. 4, Becker Library will participate in Ask an Archivist Day, an event that highlights the importance of archives as unique sources of information and emphasizes the value they bring to the community. On Oct. 4, archivists around the country will take to Twitter to respond to questions tweeted with the hashtag #AskAnArchivist.

We invite you to send us questions about archives and archivists via Twitter @BeckerRareBooks. This is your opportunity to connect directly with archivists to ask questions, get information or just satisfy your curiosity.  In preparation for Ask an Archivist Day, below are a few answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.

What are archives?

Each day, individuals, companies, universities and other organizations create information about their daily activities. These records may come in many formats such as email, diaries, reports, financial documents, photographs or video recordings. An archivist’s job is to collect this information and then organize, preserve and provide access to it for future research. The records themselves, and the location in which they are kept, are called “archives.”

What’s in your collections?

Washington University School of Medicine has its own archives at Becker Library (separate from the general University archives housed on the Danforth campus) with collections that document the history and development of the medical school and its affiliated hospitals and research institutions. The collections include administrative records of the school’s departments, programs and affiliated institutions, as well as faculty papers, photographs, artifacts and oral histories. 

Why would I need to use your archives?

Becker Library’s archives serve as a reliable information bank that documents the development and progress of the medical center for future generations. The archival collections can be used to discover the context in which the medical school and hospitals developed in the way they did, explain current issues in historical terms and to demonstrate how our medical center compares to others. The archives can also be used to research more specific questions such as:

  • How many patients were seen at Barnes Hospital in 1980? 
  • Who were the medical school’s anatomy instructors in 1957? 
  • How much money was spent on the construction of the Maternity Hospital Building?
  • What year did John Johnson graduate from the medical school?
  • Do you have a photograph of Dr. Evarts Graham?

How can I find out more about your archives?

Send us your questions on Oct. 4 via Twitter @BeckerRareBooks using the hashtag #AskAnArchivist! You are also welcome to stop by for a visit. The library’s Archives and Rare Books Division is open to the public on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Visitors are welcome to use our collections, view our exhibits in the Glaser Gallery and attend our Historia Medica Lectures, which are produced in partnership with the Center for History Of Medicine. For those unable to visit our facility in-person, you may follow us on Twitter and Tumblr, or browse a number of our resources online: