Special Collections seek exhibit for female athletes at Colby
While most don’t associate Miller Library with athletics, tucked away in a corner of the library sits Special Collections. For the past two months, Special Collections has been collecting and compiling information about female athletes and athletics throughout Colby’s history. The project began at the beginning of Feb. with the goal of increasing the information accessible to the public on women’s sports at Colby. The origin of the project comes from the fact that the current archives at Colby have a very notable lack of information about women in athletics throughout the years, yet have a very large series on men’s athletics. Rose Sullivan ’20, a student employee at Special Collections, noted how “there is almost no collected information about women’s sports. This kind of discrepancy is common in archives throughout the world and is referred to as a ‘silence’ in the archives. [We hope to] draw attention to the [the fact] that these pieces are not being archived. Due to our own institution’s large silencing of women’s athletic history, Special Collections is trying to fill in the gaps of information at Colby.”
The approach that Special Collections is taking for this project is to mainly help give a voice to women athletes. They are achieving this by reaching out to alumni athletes, coaches, and even pulling stories from the Echo’s archives. Additionally, Special Collections is focusing on capturing the current experiences of female athletes at Colby through interviews of each sports team on campus. Though the project is still in their early stages, a lot has been learned. From the interviews with athletes, Sullivan has learned that though each experience tends to differ from team to team, there does exist commonalities among the female athlete experience. Some of these commonalities were low attendance to sports games as well as poor school sponsorship.
Moving forward, Special Collections is going to continue to archive as much data as they can. But, as Sullivan noted: “because Colby is such an old college, it is hard to know how much information we are missing in the archive. As we talk to more alumni, we will continue to uncover more of the college’s history. As of right now, we are simply doing the best we can with the information that we are given.” Furthermore, there are plans to create a digital archive of the collection which will eventually become available to the public. However, the project will likely take several years to be at the point where the public will be able to see it. Though not nearly complete, it is certainly important for Colby’s archive to contain the stories of women athletes and athletics at Colby.