A Week at Antioch College
From the minute I arrived, I felt included, a part of the College.
i am stalking Lettice Smith Holmes. Lettice died in 1910; therefore, she has no say in the matter of my following in her footsteps and delving into the nooks and crannies of her life. When I first began my research on my great aunt, all I knew was that she graduated from Oberlin College in 1850 with a master’s in theology.
Thomas Holmes-related collection from Antiochiana. The letters, addressed to Horace Mann, were written from 1856 to 1858. The photo was taken later in Holmes’ life during his time as president of Union Christian College in Merom, Indiana. (photo: Scott Sanders/Antiochiana)
I eventually discovered that Lettice married Thomas Holmes and they were both hired to teach at Antioch College soon after it opened. A little more Googling and an e-mail, and I was in touch with Scott Sanders, the archivist at Antioch College. Scott was immensely helpful, sending me copies of pages of correspondence between Thomas Holmes and Horace Mann and referring me to two books recounting the turbulent events in the early years of the College.
While doing my research, I learned that the College was currently seeking volunteers. What an opportunity! To be on campus to provide some help for this amazing college and possibly get more information from Sanders. I sent an online application to Julian Sharp ’08, manager of volunteer work. I received an “OK” from Sharp, and my stalking activities brought me to the doorstep of Antioch College.
From the minute I arrived, I felt included, a part of the College. My quarters were simple but adequate – a private dormitory with shared bath, kitchen and common area. My favorite part of the housing was that it was only a 10-minute walk to either Glen Helen or the delightful downtown. Discovering the town of Yellow Springs was a real bonus in my adventure.
The volunteer duties were what I had requested, helping in the archives at Antiochiana. Specifically, I transferred some of the many files of speeches and writings of former president Arthur Morgan from old storage boxes into which they were tightly packed into acid-free folders and new boxes. And, as I had hoped, working in the archives gave me access to Scott Sanders’ astonishing knowledge base.
I also spent several hours helping clean the Glen Helen outdoor kitchen with Barbara “Niki” Crumine, the exuberant food service manager in the Glen Helen Outdoor Education Center, in preparation for the groups that were soon to be arriving. Knowing that Niki was in real need of help, Scott made a tongue-in-cheek observation: He said since I was from Oklahoma, the heat wouldn’t bother me.
Since retirement, I have volunteered in parks, nature centers and church camps. I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to take advantage of this special kind of cultural immersion. It offers rewards on many levels. I always go away feeling that I am the one who benefits the most from the experience.
Thank you to Julian, who was so welcoming to me and the other volunteers. He was always willing to provide assistance to us in any way that he could. And thank you to Scott Sanders, who went out of his way to help me understand more about Lettice Smith Holmes’ short time at Antioch College. We concluded that we will never know for sure why she was summarily dismissed at the start of her second term, but we know for sure that she and Horace Mann were not members of a mutual admiration society.
Jane Boren lives in Norman, Oklahoma.