Helen “Tommie” Whalen had a palpable presence during her time at St. Lawrence University, where she served as the school’s registrar from 1930 to 1968 and acted as communications officer between the institution and enlisted students during WWII. Helen Whalen’s importance to St. Lawrence is reflected by the fact that she is in the athletic hall of fame and her work is mentioned in Candle in the Wilderness. During the war, she undertook to correspond with as many enlisted Laurentians as she possibly could, even starting a newsletter titled “Tommie’s News Letter” that was sent to those in the service. The correspondence she received, including letters, Christmas Cards, photographs, and announcement notices, along with an extensive collection of newspaper clippings, she kept and displayed in her office. These materials were eventually transferred over to a scrapbook and photography collection, which has been left essentially untouched for the past 80 years.
Over the course of eight weeks, I identified and inventoried all of the contents of the scrapbook. Every item was recorded and labeled by me to ensure proper management of the materials. To restore the scrapbook, the materials were relocated to housing that reflects standard preservation practices, which included moving them to acid-free envelopes, slips, and bags to then be stored in labeled folders. These folders were then moved into boxes organized by item type. This project has given me a unique opportunity to glean and develop a strong understanding of primary source materials. Each kind of material was handled differently, and they existed in a varying range of conditions, with some being completely worn down and others looking essentially new.