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Behind the scenes of the oth­erwise quiet front of  Mossey Library is a bustling atmos­phere of tran­scribing, researching, scanning, and orga­nizing as librarians and student employees sort through the mounds of mem­o­ra­bilia and doc­u­ments that com­prise the history of Hillsdale College.

Libarians say the flurry of activity has one goal: to make these doc­u­ments acces­sible to stu­dents, alumni, and rel­a­tives of past stu­dents and faculty.

Public Service Librarian Linda Moore said the dig­i­tal­ization of school papers is important for people doing family research.

“We very often get requests from people who think they had ancestors here,” Moore said.

Much of the his­torical material comes from the Civil War era, from the letters of sol­diers who served and died in the war, all pre­served or given to the college.

“There is an emphasis on the Civil War material because we have letters of some 225 stu­dents who served in the Union armies,” Moore said.

These papers also include local post-war cor­re­spon­dences of wives, some diaries, and faculty cor­re­spon­dences with sol­diers.

“The letters and diaries give a sense of the local,” junior Alex Mere­gaglia said. “These letters show not only the thoughts and minds of the people at the time and how dif­ferent [the time] was, but also how similar.”

Stu­dents, like Mere­gaglia, often start as vol­un­teers, but become student workers as they take on more projects and greater roles in the archiving process on campus.

In order to make the doc­u­ments as acces­sible as pos­sible, the archives include both the tran­scribed copies of the letters and doc­u­ments for easy access, as well as digital scans of the original texts to allow as close an exam­i­nation of the writings them­selves as pos­sible.

The archive is designed to do more than simply allow access to the doc­u­ments.

“It’s devel­oping a his­torical con­sciousness at a local level,” Mere­gaglia said.