George Mason University

News at Mason

'Marchives Madness' exhibition a slam dunk

March 11, 2019   /   by Claire Underwood

This photo book about the history of Levi Strauss & Co. is full of historical information, popups, art, letters sent to the company, and more. Photo provided by SCRC.

March is known for college basketball. But at George Mason University’s Fenwick Library, it is all about nostalgia as a new exhibit in the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) displays 64 of its most iconic items.

In a nod to tournament season, the exhibition is called “Marchives Madness.” It features maps, rare books, photographs, advertisements and clothing items from various eras in a weekly bracket-style competition in which people are asked to vote for their favorite pieces either online or in person.

The most popular pieces will move on to the next round until a Final Four and a champion are chosen.

The collection can be viewed here. Online voting can be done here. Each week, one voter will be randomly selected for a prize.

There also will be a viewing party at noon on Thursday, March 21, in Fenwick Library, Room 2306, to watch an NCAA basketball tournament game amongst the collection.

“We want people to know that to visit the archives, it doesn’t have to be just for research or a scholarly reason,” said Brittney Falter, SCRC’s research services coordinator.

Usually, SCRC exhibits have a theme; the previous exhibition focused on civil rights. But Falter said “Marchives Madness” is simply about the items displayed—a demonstration that SCRC has something for everyone.

Some highlights include a handwritten script for an 1865 unauthorized version of “Oliver Twist” at New York’s Wallack’s Theater; a photo book about the history of the Levi Strauss company; a notebook that documents the Iran hostage crisis by Harold Saunders, who was Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs during President Jimmy Carter’s administration; and a headshot and résumé of actor Morgan Freeman from his appearance at Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage in 1984 in “The Gospel at Colonus.”

“Often, people are hesitant to visit the SCRC because they think that it just isn’t for them,” Falter said. “We want people to know that we do have fun stuff here for everyone.”

Bob Vay, SCRC’s technology and exhibitions archivist, added: “The most interesting, beautiful, important and sometimes funny or quirky things can be found in an archive. You just need to walk in and find out for yourself.”

“Marchives Madness” will be on display until August.