Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Archives Update

In the hustle and bustle of the parking lot lies the graceful KMU building which is soon going to be the Archives and Museum. The dream of renovating the KMU is in the process of becoming reality. The most important thing in Archives is the repository (storage area) where documents are kept ensuring they are safe and secure.

I take pride in announcing that one of the repositories is ready for use along with the Archivist’s office. The repository has:

- dichroic halogen lamps fitting in the false ceiling

- sealed windows to avoid the infiltration of dust

- a new floor re-laid with terracotta tiles

- loose wires and unnecessary cable shave been removed

- the water supply around the building has been checked

The cost of running an air conditioner 24x7 has limited us to the use of an exhaust fan in order to circulate the air. We are still waiting for this to be installed. Choosing and purchasing shelves, racks and photograph boxes and cabinets is in process. Soon we will have the right mode of storage and can be relieved and confident that our treasures are safe.

I’ve moved into my new office - a big elegant room where I can accommodate ten to twelve people at a time. Visitors and guests can leisurely go through the archives. I’m open to any suggestions and value your assistance.

Please feel free to contact me.

Tulsi Kamath, Archivisit

Where diverse races affirm each other and faith speaks to faith in hope, where non-violence is a path to peace and Gandhi calls us to follow, where children leave with a vision and staff depart with a dream not to exploit this fragile earth but bless it with green and gold.”

These words are from Dr Habel’s message written for the installation of Cass Shaw as Chaplain of the school in March 1986. And today we see accounts of students of the past taking their places in a variety of venues in the world of 2009:

- Kai Bird (Class of 1969) now living in Nepal, winner with co-author Martin J Sherwin of the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2006

- Chris Van Hollen (Class of 1977) serving today in the Congress of the USA

- Nancy Hatch Dupree (Class of 1944) who recently received an award from the government of Afghanistan for her work in helping to save their museum treasures

- Rom Whitaker (Class of 1960) who appears with his snakes and crocodiles on TV throughout the world

The list could go on … And many others who led less public, but no less important lives of service:

- Marilyn Scudder (Class of 1956) who spent her years of service as a nurse in Africa

- Brenda Reble (Class of 1971), beloved of her students, who taught ESL for thirty years before her untimely death in 2008

- Ashok Kamte (Class of 1982), Additional Commissioner of Police, gave his life fighting terrorists at Mumbai on 26 November 2008

Pages full of memories of these, and many others—memories that have managed to survive in spite of Kodai poochies, the leaky roof, dusty rooms, neglect, rusty paper clips and staples …

Then I look across the table. There sits our hope for the future - young, bright and energetic Tulsi Kamath, recognized by the Government of India as a certified Archivist, with a BS degree from Mysore University in History, Anthropology, Archaeology and Museology. With her expertise in restoring old papers and her skill at outwitting silverfish and spiders, she is effecting a welcome change in this valuable collection.

Progress is being made to ensure permanent safe storage areas for the many archival boxes already full of photographs, concert programs, class pictures, etc. Recently the Archives Office was moved into a large adjoining room in the KMU. On the wall there will soon be a picture of the Class of 1961 - whose generous donations over the past years have made these innovations possible.

Before long the Archives collection will once again become accessible to the steady stream of former students who stop by the school to visit the beloved scenes of their childhood, or to search for treasured memories of their parents and grandparents. Yes, our alumni families continue to be a very important part of this venture.

Plan to come and visit. Meet Tulsi and fill in a page of the Family Record Book where we can note specific references to you and yours as we come across them. And take time to tell Tulsi of your memories of Kodai so that you can continue to be a part of our shared past. With the KMU Library still in operation, this historic building may well become the center where KIS and the ever-expanding Kodaikanal community will come together.

Thanks again, to our alumni for making these dreams possible. We look forward to seeing you in Kodai!

Betty Swavely Granner (Class of 1944)

Volunteer in the KIS Archives January to March 2009