This year’s Founders Day exhibit, commemorating the establishment of Ohio University, “Making OHIO Home: History of Housing and Residence Life from the 1800s to the Present,” focuses on the history and impact housing and residence life has on Ohio University’s students and campus.
The vast collection presents a story through time of how housing and residence life has shifted, changed, and expanded over the years to what it is today. Put together by the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections on the fifth floor of Alden Library, the photographs, original documents, and artifacts come together to show the importance of residence halls as not just a place to sleep with examples of events, dances, and friendships formed with the help of residence halls and their staff.
Walking into the one room exhibit, one sees that the walls are lined with cases full of artifacts and biographies showing what living in Athens as a student was like divided by the time frames 1800-1899, 1900-1939, 1940-1979, and 1980-present. Hanging from the ceiling are photos throughout the years of students during their time at Ohio University in and out of the residence halls. The full wall timeline of “Housing & Residence Life Through the Years” goes deeper into the construction of each residence hall, accompanied with photographs of students, inside the halls, and major events like the Hocking River flooding during the 1960s.
In the middle of the exhibit, cases holding the signs and bricks of former residence halls that have been torn down show the changes that have and will take place in the future as room for new residence halls have been made. Cases featuring the past and present staff give faces and a personality to the housing and residence life experience that every student has experienced during their time at Ohio University.
As a member of housing and residence life as a Resident Assistant, it is hard for me not to love everything about this exhibit for showing behind the scenes and history behind the work I participate in. With the bias out of the way, there was a lot of small print that was hard to read accompanying many artifacts. The cases containing many books and hand-written documents on shelfs were hard to see considering my short five feet one inch tall stature. I also found that the cases displayed in the middle were awkward to look over to see what they contained. As a Resident Assistant, my immediate thought was student accessibility, and for those who might be in a wheelchair or other physical disability may have a difficult time or be completely unable to experience the exhibit as it was displayed.
Due to the focus on housing and residence life, something that every Ohio University student, past and present experiences, this is a great exhibit for students and alumni alike. Located in Alden Library, the exhibit is in a perfect location for students to take a break from studying and learn about the history of housing and residence life and maybe even their own residence hall.
The exhibit is unlike any other exhibit I have seen on or off campus and is a definite must see for students, parents, alumni or any Ohio University history buff. A residence hall really is not just a place to sleep, but a place to learn, grow, and form life-long bonds with people from all over the world. “Making OHIO Home: History of Housing and Residence Life from the 1800s to the Present,” proves this point.
The Founders Day exhibit is located in the lobby outside the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections on the fifth floor of Alden Library open from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. The exhibit opened on February 18, 2019 and is free and open to the public.
This review was a product of my Journalism 3630 Reviewing and Criticism class. Edits to my original reviews have been made based on comments by my professor. Please contact me for original copies.