Preserving history professor David L. Smiley’s collection of research, teaching materials, sermons, and personal materials has not only taught me about archiving, but also about the plural history of the American South, North Carolina, and Wake Forest. While digitizing and writing about his materials, I gleaned his professional and personal perspective on Southern history and politics. He expressed these perspectives through involvement in local political societies and through his academic research as a Wake Forest professor.
As a Wake Forest alumna, I enjoyed learning about the school’s history through the materials Smiley saved while teaching there. Smiley’s professorship at Wake is unique, as he taught at Wake’s campuses in both Wake Forest and Winston-Salem. It is apparent through the things he chose to save that he loved evolving with Wake Forest and its community. One of my favorite items in the collection is a beautiful leather folder embossed “Wake Forest, 1927.” I also enjoyed seeing a brochure for a campus talent show he hosted. Both items show his care for the school, its history, and its student body.
One item in the collection, a 1973 edition of Wake Forest Magazine, represents what I love about preserving ephemera. In this edition, there is a short write-up on the experience of freshmen matriculating at Wake Forest. Although I was a freshman at Wake 41 years after this magazine was published, the write-up still resonated with my experience. Archiving items like these remind me of what’s changed, and what hasn’t, about life and the experiences we share.
Thank you to the ZSR Special Collections team and to the donor for giving me another valuable learning experience on this campus.