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Take a Fresh Look at the Archives

A Conversation with Dom, Dave, Ace, and Lora

By #21982 Dom Walker

This past summer while working at Camp, #10555 Dave “LangFu” Langston shared an updated version of Camp’s old postcard file that was created from images held in the Camp Archives. I was amazed as I flipped through the online images.  It was truly a “walk into our past.” After a short conversation with Fu, I decided that I wanted to learn more about the work that was currently being done in the Archives to preserve our history.

I found out that #7289 Ace Scharges and #17855 Lora Langston are the two individuals who are currently active workers in the Camp’s archives. Housed in MacLean Lodge, the archives hold hundreds of old files, photos, and other documents that illustrate the history of Camp. Ace and Lora have gathered once a week for the past few years to continue the sorting and cataloging process. Ace is currently working on scanning as many of the slides as possible while Lora continues the process of sorting the old photos into categories. 

One of the early archive projects completed not too long ago was the digitizing of all CD News, Last Whistles, and Spirits. This allowed the archive team to continue their work remotely even during the pandemic and the summer of 2021 when they could not be on campus. They have been able to begin the process of creating a searchable index of CD News articles dating back to 1937. Fascinated by the work that Ace and Lora were doing, I asked them to respond to a few questions that I think are important as we bring a renewed focus to our history.  I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.

Dom: Tell me a little about yourself.  What is your connection/affiliation to Camp?

#7289 Ace – I started as a camper in 1946. I proceeded up the leadership ranks and was a D-Head in 1951 and 1952. In 1984 I was president of the CDA and Chairman of the centennial reunion. In 1985 I was selected as a member of the Board of Managers.  For the past 7 years, I have been working in the Dudley archives one day a week.

#17855 Lora – I have supported and worked for Camp as a parent, spouse, staff member, and volunteer (Archives 2018) since the summer 1999 season. Of all the camp jobs I’ve had, working in Brodie and volunteering in the Archives are my favorites.

When did you find out you liked collecting history/archiving?

Ace – I have always been interested in history and Dudley’s has always intrigued me. In 1984 I found that a camp my daughter was attending had an extensive archives. Thus the idea—I made a recommendation to the board and it was approved. I then began my active participation in the ongoing progress of the Dudley archives.

Lora – I’ve always loved libraries and books—their history, variety, and organization. During my career, I’ve worked in public and school libraries where building and regional history really tell a story. Though not formally trained as an archivist, I have an appreciation for historical documents and their preservation.

Why do you think it is important to preserve Dudley’s history?

Since Camp Dudley is the oldest continuously operating camp in the United States, it is important that we record the creation, development, and traditions of camp, reflecting the tremendous effort and vision of so many individuals through the years. We then are better able to answer questions from campers, parents, alumni, and researchers.

What are some cool things that you’ve learned since doing the job?

We’ve learned just how influential #1698 Condict W. Cutler was in the development of Camp. #310 H.C. “Chief” Beckman was a leader; Cutler was a visionary.

In 1887, the sons of Thomas Alva Edison (Thomas Jr. and Willie) attended Camp; unfortunately, camp numbers are unavailable.

The Dudley Doings was founded in 1905, appearing in print for the first time in 1907. Copies were sold for five cents each or 25 cents for the season.

Dudley purchased its current campus site, known as “shore acres” in 1908. The original 65-acre site was purchased for $18,000. Various pieces of land were added as Camp expanded over the years.

In 1930 the first three cabins—Iroquois, Andrews, and Huron—were built.

Are there any notable facts from history that you think every Dudleyite should know?

The first year on the current camp property was 1908.

“The Lodge” (Dining Hall) was the first building on campus in 1908.

George Peck is camper #1.

Kiniya was founded in 1919 and joined the Dudley family in 2006.

The Scholarship Fund was started in 1925.

What is “Pink Music?” In 1903-1906, a reference was made by George Peck to “Pink Music” used in the Dudley cheer. It was a non-alcoholic, pink fruit juice called Claret Lemonade. It was called “Pink Music” because its name sounded like “clarinet.”

Who wrote the Dudley Hymn?  (#5304 Harry Taylor, 1935)

Talk about the process of archiving?

Finding and gathering material to be archived is the first step. Many others initiated work on this process in years prior to the start of our recent work: #15289 Lee Scharges, #7532 Paul Grinwis, #10264 Brian Mahoney, #14508 Peggy Bolster, #8804 John and #18204 Martha Storey, #9675 Dave West, #11541 Jack and #12082 Patrick Butler, #10555 Dave Langston, to name a few. We have built on their efforts and are grateful for all they have done to preserve Camp history. Once the material is at hand, it needs to be sorted and organized. It is then indexed for the catalog and preserved with the appropriate archival method. The end result is a computerized, searchable catalog.

Has this been a difficult task since you started?

The sheer volume of material—the number of slides, photos, and documents for instance—can be overwhelming. The task of categorizing and cataloging takes thoughtful consideration and time, but it is enjoyable because we learn more about Camp’s history with every project.

How can interested Dudleyites get involved in preserving its history?

An interested person should first be familiar with the online resources currently available from the Archives—The Last Whistle, CD News magazines, and the postcard collection. (You can find the online archive at: campdudley.org/archives.) People can assist in obtaining missing material needed by the archives. While we have sets of The Last Whistles, The Spirit, and CD News magazines, some information regarding Dudley Doings and various Big Shows (2006-2019) is incomplete. When on campus, ask to take a tour of the Archives and view the timeline photo panels displayed in MacLean Lodge or through the archive website.

Any other facts, questions, things to note, interesting anecdotes?

We are always discovering fun little nuggets of information.  Here are a few:

Board was $5.25 per week in 1897.

In 1910, the camp management deemed it wise not to permit card playing at any time, on the way to and from camp or during the camp season.

Besides all the other sports in 1908, a “Quoits” tournament was held. Quoits is from an ancient Greek game like horseshoes and ring toss.

The first “Big Show” or original musical operetta, “Sapolio the Last,” was created in 1907 by #643 Minott Osborn. The next show would not come until 1917.

The Dudley Chapel was dedicated in 1909 at its current setting and became the center of Camp’s spiritual activities.

The Archives contain records of Dudley songs, old movies, slides, and other memorabilia.

All the plaques that we have found around Camp are catalogued.

It is amazing to think that so much work has been done to help preserve our past.  I would encourage each of you to visit the online archives (campdudley.org/archives) to see for yourself how the Dudley and Kiniya stories have transpired over the years.

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