Climb to the eighth floor of the Richter Library, and prepare to take a journey down memory lane.
Home to the Special Collections in the University of Miami libraries, the entire floor is dedicated to archiving rare historical artifacts and documents, including records from the major 20th-century airline Pan American Airways, scrapbooks from the Victorian era and a collection of playbills from performances in South Florida from 1920 to 2006. The newest addition to the department is an exhibit dedicated to the city of Miami’s annual college football bowl game, the Orange Bowl.
“The more voices whose stories we get to tell, the richer our collection becomes,” said Cristina Favretto, director of Special Collections.
The collection includes thousands of items documenting the Orange Bowl’s 77 years. Some items in the collection will remain in storage until they can be sorted and classified by archival experts in Special Collections.
“There are a variety of formats, including Orange Bowl committee meetings, correspondence, photographs of the parade, memorabilia, scrapbooks for every year they had the Orange Bowl parade, promotional materials, audio and visual materials, and film,” Special Collections librarian Beatrice Skokan said.
The collection even includes the official Orange Bowl mascot, Obie.
The department’s creation came at a time when the Orange Bowl Committee was in search of a home for its history. Special Collections saw this as an opportunity that would be appealing to the local community.
“We have students, faculty, staff and general public who love their city and sports, and are interested in using the collection,” Favretto said.
She said that the new Orange Bowl collection, similar to the overall goal of the department, will allow visitors to have a plentitude of evidence “so that when people write stories about the past, they write them with a lot of good information at their fingertips.”
The Orange Bowl Committee and the University of Miami have built a relationship since the first Orange Bowl game in 1935.
“For years, we both played in the same home stadium, many members of the Orange Bowl Committee are affiliated with the university and many of them are trustees,” said Larry Wahl, vice president of communications and community outreach for the Orange Bowl Committee. “The Orange Bowl game started with the University of Miami as one of the participants.”
The Orange Bowl Committee was created in 1935 in an effort to “promote economic development and tourism” in South Florida as the area began to recover from the Great Depression, Wahl said.
The non-profit committee has since been a part of building history.
“South Florida is a relatively young community, in terms of where it stands with other major communities in this country,” Wahl said.
Special Collections has seen a positive response to its undertaking of the collection, and expects to attract crowds with the addition of the Orange Bowl collection.
“We hope to attract students, faculty and outside researchers,” Skokan said. “We have people who come all over the world because everyone has access to Special Collections.”
It will take around one year to process all the items in the collection, after which Special Collections plans on having an official ceremony for its opening.