Ann Case, university archivist
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Name: Ann Case
Title: University Archivist
Where you’ll find her: University Archives, Tulane University Special Collections, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library
Years at Tulane: 41, including graduate school years
Ann Case is a wellspring of knowledge about Tulane — and as university archivist, her institutional knowledge reaches way back to the founding of the university.
Case comes to this impressive knowledge through her responsibilities to collect, process and manage items that represent the everyday workings of the university.
“It’s the documents — sometimes objects — mostly documents that are produced in the operation or the running of the university. Mostly what I have here are papers from the offices in the university,” Case said. “Hopefully after so many years here, people kind of know of me and know that there is a University Archives (where) they can transfer their inactive records.”
Jambalaya yearbooks, university publications, even old records from academic departments: Case said Tulane specially preserves and houses archival copies of these items.
“We have had several emails recently from offices across campus who have asked, ‘We have things that we no longer need, do we just shred them? Or throw them away?’ My answer usually is, do not shred them! Let us come and look at them,” Case said, adding that she works with the departments to get their historically important documents organized and transferred to University Archives.
These precious documents form the database from which she works, helping to answer a range of questions about all things Tulane. “It is mostly staff and faculty nowadays, but it is also alumni and current students as well. Any given day, it could be former students looking for course descriptions out of course catalogs, or somebody looking for ancestors’ records, (such as) did they attend or graduate from Tulane back in the 1840s.”
Case arrived at Tulane to work on her Mesoamerican archaeology PhD, studying with Professor Will Andrews at the Middle American Research Institute. At the time, Dinwiddie Hall was aging gracefully.
“I loved that old building before it was renovated: so many great little nooks and crannies,” Case said. “The collection was hidden back behind the walls — it was so much fun.”
Most memorable day at Tulane: “May 7, 1990: While I was walking to work, the grounds supervisor rode his bicycle alongside me and uttered the immortal question, ‘So, what do you do in there all day?’ We were married four years later.”
Favorite place on campus: “The University Archives, where I can retrieve the answer to almost every question that pops up about Tulane and Newcomb, or just enjoy old photos of campus life.”
Unique items in my work space: “Handwritten documents establishing the university (e.g. the Prospectus, 1834), a male yell leader outfit (ca. 1913), and Sophie and Josephine Louise Newcomb's photo albums (ca. 1862).”
Amazing experience I want to have: “I would love to experience a few spectacular nights of the Northern Lights somewhere, perhaps in Iceland ...”
Something most people don’t know about me: “My degrees are in anthropology, specializing in historical archaeology, which uses archival records to inform about the archaeological record. I crab-walked into the profession of archives out of archaeology.”
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