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Do you find inspiration in a library?  Astronaut Paul Richards did.  At today's "Dragons of the Space Shuttle Era" event, Paul Richards '89 explained that he prepared himself to become an astronaut while at Drexel not just by studying mechanical engineering but also reading biographies of astronauts on microfiche here in Hagerty Library.  Mr. Richards fulfilled the dream he first had while watching the Apollo 14 launch in kindergarten in May 2001 when he become the 400th human in space.  Richards and fellow astronaut Chris Ferguson '83 shared these and other stories today in Drexel's Mitchell Auditorium.  The astronauts answered questions from moderator Terry Ruggles and from the audience, including these highlights: Asked if piloting the Space Shuttle was like flying a brick, Ferguson answered, "You can make a brick fly if you put a big enough engine on it. That's what we've done with the space shuttle." Asked about his spacewalk, Richards answered, "It's a misnomer to say you walk. You move with your fingertips and your hands. If your feet are moving, you're probably kicking something that shouldn't be kicked." Asked about the future of the space program, Richards answered that the moon should be our next target. He dismissed the "been there, done that" attitude, explaining that the moon landing in 1969 was comparable to Columbus's 1492 landing in the new world; whereas a permanent base on the moon would be like the 1620 settlement at Jamestown -- wholly different. Chris Ferguson shared his enthusiasm for the upcoming launch of the Mars Science Laboratory and encouraged attendees to watch the video simulation of the MSL's landing on the surface of Mars, which is scheduled for August 2012. Perhaps a whole new generation of Drexel students will be inspired by explorations of Mars and the moon, as Ferguson and Richards were in the 1980s.

Last evening Drexel faculty, students and staff gathered at Hagerty Library to mark the opening of the University Archives' newest exhibition, Access Everywhere: Computing at Drexel, 1984 – present. The exhibition, which runs until December 10, begins with Drexel's Microcomputing Project and the distribution of Macintosh computers to Drexel students and faculty in March 1984. Two professors at last night's conversation were there for the distribution: Tom Hewett and Ray Brebach shared their memories of that dramatic era in Drexel's history. Professor Jeremy Johnson added the perspective of a computer scientist as we discussed the impact of several key information technologies on Drexel over the last few decades. The speakers agreed that while the introduction of the Macintosh was the most dramatic change, the technology with most pervasive impact, that has changed education at Drexel the most, was wireless computing. Tom Hewett remembered the moment when a colleague first demonstrated how the Apple base station could connect everyone in a room to the internet, without cables. The conversation ranged from Drexel's role as an innovator in computing to the complex relationship between books and hypertext to and the future of input devices beyond the mouse and keyboard. Missed this discussion? You'll have another chance to discuss these and more topics with Drexel faculty, students and alumni at 6 p.m. on November 10 at the Library Learning Terrace, when we screen Going National, followed by another panel discussion. We hope to see you then.

Faculty and students examine the new exhibition, "Access Everywhere," before the conversation

Lovers of computers, lovers of history, please join us tonight from 5 – 7 PM on the first floor of W. W. Hagerty Library for a special event. Kicking off the opening of Access Everywhere: Computing at Drexel, 1984 – present, we'll have a conversation about the changing role of computers at Drexel. With faculty, students, staff and maybe even some alumns! Topics to be discussed will include email, internet, wireless access, and other computer advances that have brought Drexel to where it is today. This event is free and open to the public. Coffee and light refreshments will be provided.

The University Archives will be closed for Columbus Day on October 10.  Please come see us during our normal hours (weekdays 1-5 p.m.) the rest of the week!

Today Drexel's Business Librarian, Emily Missner, and I were present at the opening of the recently discovered Matheson Hall time capsule, making sure that the contents of the capsule were appropriately preserved.  Fortunately, contents were in excellent condition, preserved inside a sealed lead box.


In case you're wondering what was inside the time capsule, here's an inventory:

  • Brochure: Answers to your questions about Drexel and the Drexel Plan of Cooperative Education
  • Drexel Institute of Technology Bulletin: Undergraduate Curricula 1965-66
  • Drexel Institute of Technology Blue Book (blank examination book)
  • The Drexel Triangle, April 23, 1965
  • The Ledger: The Quarterly Journal of the Undergraduate College of Business Administration, 1963-54 (three issues)
  • Bus Ad Day card (Business Administration Day), circa 1965
  • Mitchell, Robert B. and Stanley B. Tunick. Prentice Hall 1964 Federal Tax Course, Students Edition
  • Two cigarette butts with the following names written in ink: W. Martin, E. Martin, Macauley, S. Smith, Carlo, Barry, Lucke, Halpin, McNamara, Mueller


1965 time capsule discovered during the demolition of Matheson Hall1965 time capsule discovered during the demolition of Matheson Hall

To lend some historical perspective to National Hazing Prevention Week, photographs and documents from the Drexel University Archives are on display at the Creese Student Center until Friday, September 30.  The items demonstrate changing socialization rituals at Drexel and are drawn from our fall 2010 exhibition, "Greetings on Thee Little Guys: A History of Freshman at Drexel."

Thanks for your patience over the past two weeks as we've been closed for post-flood repairs.  We still aren't back to normal, but we're close enough that we'll be open our regular hours this week and for the rest of the term.  Come visit us any weekday afternoon (that is, Monday-Friday between 1-5 p.m.)  The records of 120 years of Drexel history are waiting for you to discover them.

The University Archives will be closed for the start of the fall term as we clean up from last week's flood on the Lower Level of Hagerty Library.  Drexel Facilities is hard at work restoring the Lower Level, but it will be a few days before the Archives is back in business.  Until then, the best way to reach us is by email:

Faculty, students and staff, we hope you enjoy the start of a new academic year!

During Drexel's break between summer and fall terms, September 6-16, the University Archives will be open by appointment only.  If you want to do research on Drexel history, please contact us to schedule an appointment.  We are closed for Labor Day on Monday September 5.

On the first day of fall classes, September 19, we will return to our regular session schedule: weekday afternoons from 1-5 and mornings by appointment.

Enjoy the break, students and teachers!  We'll see you when you get back.

Our latest exhibition, "Researching Diversity at Drexel," opened August 10. This week we'll be hosting an opening reception with coffee and conversation about researching and documenting diversity. The reception will take place in the atrium of the W.W. Hagerty Library (33rd and Market Streets) on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 5 p.m. We hope to see you there!

Drexel opened its doors in 1891 as a technical school dedicated to educating men and women students of all races, religions, and backgrounds. However, the history of diversity at Drexel, as at any institution, is complex. This exhibition contains documents from the University Archives and essays written by students in Dr. Sharon Brubaker’s English 103 classes that explore issues of race, gender and cultural diversity at Drexel.

A guide for international students, Drexel UniversityA guide for international students, Drexel University

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