First held in 1970, Earth Day is a global event held on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection and ecological activism. This year ULS students, staff and faculty celebrated the beauty of our campus and God’s blessings in the natural resources around us.
Larry Herrold, 2nd Year MDiv. student and archives assistant, put together an Earth Day exhibit at the Wentz Library, highlighting creation care and publicizing the ULS community gardens.
Then, on Saturday, the community joined together at the Gettysburg campus community garden to plant the first vegetables of the year. Dr. Maria Erling provided a short blessing liturgy.
After the blessing, the group planted cool weather crops including broccoli, lettuce, kale, carrots, and onions. More crops will be added as the weather warms up.
In addition to providing fresh vegetables and herbs to students throughout the growing season, the community gardens on both campuses serve as a place for mindful work and prayer and remind us of the importance of caring for God’s creation.
Jorie was hired in July 2022 to process the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) collection. They earned their Master’s of Library and Information Science from Simmons University in 2021 and come to ULS from Drexel University.
Hello! My name is Jorie Thuon and I’m the temporary processing archivist for the Philadelphia campus. If you’ve never heard of me, don’t feel too bad about it because most of my time is spent either lurking around the staff area of Krauth Memorial Library or haunting the Brossman Center’s basement vaults.
As a processing archivist, my job is to take material records and sort, note, and generally make accessible their contents. This can be done in six steps:
Consolidation: Through years of changes in staff, office moves, and new construction, paperwork and items saved by the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (of pre-ULS fame) have ended up spread across the campus. Some records end up in weird places – forgotten filing cabinets or AV dump rooms – while others reside in storage areas that aren’t sustainable long term. Bringing boxes and records to the climate-controlled vault in the basement of the Brossman Center ensures they will be protected from mold, water damage, or being thrown out during spring cleaning.
2. Research: As much as I wish I could say I know everything about the seminary and its long history, I have a lot still to learn. When I come across a record or set of records relating to a topic that I’m unfamiliar with, reading through related records, researching online/in the library, or asking former and current staff and professors for help generally gives me a greater idea of what I’m working with.
3. Assessment and Deaccessioning: Once I have more information on what I’m working with, the time comes to throw things away. While some records have great historical or institutional significance, other items may no longer be relevant to the collection, do not fit the current collecting policy, or are, simply, trash. Unnecessary records are recycled or shredded depending on privacy concerns. Other items, such as paintings, may be set aside to be offered to other archives. This is a process known as deaccessioning.
4. Organization: Once I’m familiar with the materials and have determined which ones belong in the permanent collection, I can focus on arrangement. Since most records housed on the Philadelphia campus are institutional, they can often be organized according to the office that created them. For example, records from the dean’s office or relating to academic affairs, such as faculty meeting minutes, would be physically arranged together into a collection. Paper items are stored in archival quality boxes and folders to prevent molding or acidic decay. Larger items, such as blueprints, are either placed on shelves or fitted into appropriately sized boxes.
5. Finding Aids: Once the records are physically organized, they need to be made accessible for future researchers and staff to find. It wouldn’t do well to preserve something just to lose it! A finding aid, as the name suggests, is a document which records important information about a collection, including location and contents.
6. Online Assembly: Once finished, finding aids are posted online so information about the collection can be readily accessed. From there, Victoria, the resident archivist, can do things like direct people to specific collections or decide what records should be digitized.
Research Assistance: Finally, one of the fun parts of my work is assisting researchers in learning more about the seminary and its history. This can look like answering inquiries by email or pulling materials for researchers to view in person.
Among the most famous residents of the former Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg is Elsie Singmaster Lewars. She was born in Schuykill Haven, Pennsylvania, on 29 August 1879 to the Rev. Dr. John Alden Singmaster and his wife Caroline Hoopes Singmaster. Elsie often reflected fondly on her childhood and her hometown, Macungie. “It was a quiet, tree-shaded village, lying at the foot of a wooded hill which we called ‘the mountain’.” Her later works incorporated memories of Macungie and its landscapes and people. She lived there from 1882–1885 whilst her father served six local Lutheran parishes. Though the family would move away to Brooklyn (1887–1890) and Allentown (1890–1900), they returned each summer to Macungie.
During these summers at home the family lived in the former Wesco Baptist Meeting House on the Singmaster farm. Reflecting on the character of the colonial home and the “green fields” and “the blast-furnaces” that surrounded it, Elsie wrote “it was a perfect period in our lives—the fields and streams were ours, affection and good will surrounded us.” She and her brothers, James, John, Edmund, and Paul, loved their summers in Macungie, leaving with “drooped heads” on the first day of September when they returned to the city for schooling. Elsie graduated in 1894 from Allentown High School.
The lives of Elsie and her brothers would change again when in 1900 the family moved to Gettysburg. Her father became a professor at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. Soon after, in 1907, she graduated from Radcliffe College as a Phi Beta Kappa. In April 1912 she married Harold Steck Lewars, a musician and English professor. She was pregnant with their only child when Lewars passed away at age 33 in March 1915. Their baby would pass away only two months later.
After her marriage, Elsie continued to use Singmaster as her pen name, despite taking on the Lewars surname. Elsie’s inspiration for much of her work was her childhood and the Pennsylvania Germans with whom she grew up in Macungie. Macungie was renamed Millerstown, and its residents became models for Singmaster’s cast of characters throughout her work. Her books are credited for helping to preserve the Pennsylvania German and Lehigh County histories, dialects, and social customs.
Singmaster’s work gained broad appeal, not only in Pennsylvania and the United States, but even internationally. Her novel Bennett Malin was published in the United Kingdom in 1923 by London publishing house Hurst & Blackett, Ltd. Her 1929 novel You Make Your Own Luck was published in Denmark in 1930. In the 1920s and 30s her writing generally shifted toward focusing on her Gettysburg surroundings and the town’s history as the site of one of the most consequential battles of American history. Her 1934 novel Swords of Steel was a Newberry Award honor book.
Later in her career Singmaster was named a “Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania” by Governor James H. Duff. Reflecting the positive view of her Pennsylvania German neighbors, Singmaster herself served her community diligently and joyfully. She was active in the Gettysburg Civic Nursing Association, the American Red Cross, the Adams County Historical Society, the Adams County Public Library System, The Women’s Missionary Society, and the Lutheran Church and its various institutions. She also helped to sponsor young men and women in her community who demonstrated strong professional potential.
Singmaster died on 30 September 1958 and was buried in Fairview Cemetery in Macungie, Pennsylvania. Patrons of the A.R. Wentz Library and the Krauth Memorial Library of United Lutheran Seminary can borrow several of Elsie Singmaster’s works from the collection, including: The Long Journey, A High Wind Rising, The Hidden Road, and others. Check these books out and discover the joy and talent of Singmaster.
Hannah Tonn has put together an exhibit about Singmaster at the Wentz Library. Stop by to learn more and see a display of Singmaster’s books!
Abdel Ross Wentz was a leading figure in American Lutheranism. From 1916–1956 he was a professor of church history, librarian, and later president of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. He also served as the first vice president of the Lutheran World Federation and as the American Lutheran representative to the World Council of Churches. The A.R. Wentz Library on the Gettysburg campus was dedicated in his honor in 1965.
Wentz’s family established an endowment with the Lutheran Historical Society of the Mid-Atlantic that provides prize money for the best history paper on a topic related to Lutheranism in America. The prize is in the amount of $2,500, and the competition is open to all writers regardless of religious identification or denominational affiliation. The deadline for submissions is September 30, 2023.
Every librarian’s worst nightmare. Yes, they are a real thing!
Book worms are actually the larvae of beetles or weevils that eat the pages of books, their covers, or the glue in their bindings. Mmm, tasty glue… In the Wentz Library a few weeks ago, library assistant David discovered some gnawed volumes while shifting periodicals. It is unlikely that we have an active infestation, and these worm holes probably occurred even before the early 20th century volumes arrived at the Wentz Library, but taking an abundance of caution, we froze the items to kill any bugs or eggs that might remain in the books.
Books in the breakroom freezer. Library workers are nothing if not resourceful!
Each volume was sealed in a plastic bag to prevent moisture (we don’t want to trade worms for mold!) and stored in the freezer. The cold temperature will kill any pests that may be lurking in the pages. After a week or so, the books were removed and allowed to come to room temperature.
Books thawing in front of a heater after being frozen for 10 days
The books are part of the periodical collection and have now been returned to the shelves.
Wormholes in the pages. While it’s not unusual to see worm holes in codices from the 15th-17th centuries, I’ve never seen them in books this recent.
This is why it’s important to quarantine materials before they are added to the collection. It also highlights why food is not allowed in the library, and why spaces should be kept clean so as to not attract pests and their book-hungry babies!