12 Dec Seniors Visit the Special Collections at Multnomah County Library – 2019
by Katherine D., 12th grade
Humane Letters is an engaging class. In it, we read ancient texts, have meaningful discussions, and look for deeper truths. Many of the texts that we read are original documents written hundreds of years ago. On December 3, we got a chance to see and touch documents like these in person. We took an excursion to the Multnomah County Library where we were allowed into their special collections and archive. We were invited into a large room filled wall-to-wall with glass-covered bookshelves that contained everything from a centuries-old Bible to an original copy of Huckleberry Finn. The John Wilson Special Collections Librarian, Jim Carmin, took out a collection of original documents, books, and photographs from the Oregon “World’s Fair” (dubbed the “Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition”) of 1905. We examined hundreds of letters and telegrams written during the Exposition and used a magnifying glass to examine the smallest details of the many pictures of the Exposition. Afterwards, Mr. Carmin let us choose any book from the shelves to carefully place in the foam stands and look through them. We got to look at some fascinating books, from a hundred-year-old collection of Chaucer’s works the size of a backpack to a book created entirely out of embroidered silk. Being able to see and touch the books that we are studying in Humane Letters in the original forms was an amazing experience. And I’m incredibly thankful to the Multnomah County Library for letting us tour their archive room.