As the department began to pull together materials for our exhibit for Alumni Weekend, Miami and Oxford in the 1960s, I looked through some old files for images of Alumni Library. I found some wonderful photographs that were taken in the summer of 1964, including a picture that has special meaning to me. The person at the counter is Helen Ball. She, along with Frances McClure and Elizabeth Brice, hired me to work in Special Collections many, many years ago.
Helen began working part time in the University Library as an undergraduate at Miami. She went on to get an M.A. in English in 1942 and left her University Library position to marry. Two months later Mr. King asked her to return to work “temporarily”. In 1971 Dr. Charles Churchwell appointed her Curator, rare Books and Special Collections, of the newly established Walter Havighurst Special Collections in King Library. When Helen retired in 1990 she was heard to say, “You’ve got to watch those temporary jobs.”
For almost twenty years Helen’s vision defined the development of Special Collections. Former University President Phillip R. Shriver once said, “In the last twenty years I have personally used the Special Collections more than any other part of the Library. The living legacy of Helen Ball has been, still is, and will always be evident to those of us who have been fortunate to use them.”
Frances, Elizabeth and Helen opened a very special world to me when they invited me to join them at The Walter Havighurst Special Collections. Finding this picture of Helen Ball brought back very pleasant memories of an important person in my life.
The picture at the top is a part of our Miami and Oxford in the 1960s exhibit, which will be up through the middle of August. I hope you will have the opportunity to stop in and see it.
Some of the background and the quotations for this post came from The History of the Miami University Libraries by Elizabeth H. Baer, and A Memorial to Helen Coulter Ball, prepared by a committee on the occasion of her death.
Senior Library Technician