March 1, 2024

Trinity Seminary library archives: vital role in university history

University archives offer a deep dive into Capital and Trinity Seminary’s History. With archives located in Hamma Library and the Blackmore Library, students can gain a look into rich university history.

The Trinity Lutheran Seminary was formed from the union of the original seminary called Evangelical Lutheran Theological School and Hamma Divinity School, which was a part of Wittenberg University. The union took place in 1978 which is when the Trinity archives were started.

Managing archives is no easy task, especially when they have to be protected from things like water and dust. Many libraries and universities have a dedicated archivist to make sure they are in good condition.

“We have a volunteer archivist who was a professor and a former dean, Dr. Don Huber,” Ellie Cucksey, Hamma Library’s head librarian, said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, and of course, COVID kept him away.”

Cucksey went on to describe how Dr. Huber has always done a great job maintaining the archives. “The archives are in fine condition,” said Cucksey. “Everything is dry and it hasn’t always been the case that you could assure all rooms would be dry. But, right now, we’re confident that everything is safe and in good condition.”

Huber has made sure documents are appropriately boxed and acid-free. Huber’s work being so organized, it makes going through the archives much easier.

With three rooms dedicated to the Trinity archives, students can get a first-hand look into the history of the seminary and the university.

The Trinity archives tell the story of our university and the world of higher education with handwritten notes and articles from some of the big names in theology, such as Reverend Richard Lenski. 

Lenski was a Lutheran pastor, scholar and author who went on to publish commentary on the New Testament. Some of Lenksi’s commentaries from 1926 are on file in the Trinity archives.

Lenski’s notes include a discussion from a 1926 conference in Ashoka, Wisconsin on whether or not women should be allowed to participate in the church.

Lenksi and his family truly made themselves a part of the Capital community. Lenski’s daughter, Lois Lenski, even has her own children’s books on display in the Blackmore Library.

The archives offer another deep dive into the seminary history with notes from Reverend Wilhelm Schmidt, founder of the Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary. Schmidt’s notes from 1824 cover topics like metaphysics. The notes were taken while he was studying in Germany, at Halle University.

With the archives being maintained by Huber, who is a volunteer, Cucksey knows the responsibility will fall to her lap if he no longer decides to volunteer. With Hamma Library being run by Cucksey and students, Cucksey hopes “that someday we can justify having more [people on] staff.”

Both Capital students and Seminary students can make appointments to do research in the Trinity archives with Ellie Cucksey.


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