Memorabilia: The Marsh Letters

Sidney Harper Marsh letters. (Photo by Heidi Hoffman)

Though separated by 131 years, 19 students both encountered and became acquainted with President Sidney Harper Marsh, Pacific University’s first president, through their transcription of a selection of Marsh’s letters, sermons and a commencement address.

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Early in fall 2009, History Professor Larry Lipin contacted the Library about introducing students in his “Research Methods in History” course to primary source material in the University Archives that might lend itself to transcription. The idea was to provide the students with an opportunity to work with the material, and also make it more readily available to other researchers.

Fortunately, a finding aid to President Marsh's personal papers had been recently completed by Elvira Sanchez-Kisser, a volunteer in the Archives and previously a librarian at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Using Kisser’s guide, Lipin and I identified selected original documents in cursive script and the students began their work. The results can be seen at CommonKnowledge, the Library’s open-access portal for scholarly communication at