A Passion for History: The Archive Avengers

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Students and Hannah Mellino at work in the Hosford History Center and Lawrence Archives.

Katie Priest is a senior majoring in studio art and visual arts with a dual discipline in pre-art therapy. She is a member of the Art Alliance and Alpha Lambda Epsilon, and she is a fellow of the President’s Leadership Institute. Katie writes posts about her life as an OC student and how she represents The University of Olivet wherever she goes.
Today, I wanted to feature a group of students who are known as the Archive Avengers. With such a great name, I had to learn more about who they are and what their mission is. I got in touch with Hannah Mellino ’19, archives administrative and communications assistant, who advises the Archive Avengers. The Archive Avengers formally began in spring 2017 with seven members, including Hannah herself. She talked about how Olivet’s archives are unique because students who work at the archives do not have to be history majors.
“Everyone brought a different skill set and a wealth of knowledge to the table with a common goal to defend, save and discover our history. That was why we called ourselves the Archive Avengers,” Hannah said. Now that Hannah is a staff member working with the archives, she mentors students as they work on a variety of research projects.
Today, the Archive Avengers’ mission continues. Junior Caitlyn Tanner has worked for the archives for almost two years. “In order to become an official Archive Avenger, you have to have worked at the archives for at least a semester and have gone through the ‘caping’ ceremony at the end of the semester. Currently, we have four full avengers and five more students in the process,” she said.
Caitlyn’s favorite part about working in the archives is helping people discover what happened in the past. “There’s so much that’s been lost to time, but through our combined efforts we’re rediscovering so much interesting information about the College and those who have attended it,” Caitlyn said.
Senior Amanda Briggs said that students are able to learn a lot from the experience of working in an archive. “I’m learning a lot about how a historical archive is run and how people in that field do research. I’m also learning a lot about my own field, graphic design, by working closely with Hannah as she has a degree in graphic design,” Amanda said.
Junior Grace Forbush added, “Students are learning how to navigate an archival space and websites, document different collection items, create displays and give tours in a museum setting. There’s a lot to learn!”
“Without the archives, a lot of the  College’s history would have been a mystery forever,” Caitlin said. “But, since we have the archives, we can now share these things with the public, allowing for more people to enjoy and learn from Olivet’s history while also preserving it for future generations.”
Students can get involved with the archives or the Archive Avengers by volunteering, applying for a job with the Hosford History Center and Lawrence Archives or visiting the home on Monday nights during open student hours from 7-9 p.m.
“There are a plethora of opportunities for students to protect and preserve history,” Hannah said. “Since the archives are open to students of all majors, it allows for more opportunities to get involved. My favorite part about working with students is getting to know them individually and being able to mentor them just like faculty and staff mentored me when I was a student at Olivet.”
Learn more about The University of Olivet by contacting the Office of Admissions at 800-456-7189 or admissions@uolivet.edu, or schedule a visit — a stop at the Hosford History Center and Lawrence Archives is included in every campus tour.


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