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Ferris Has 125 Years of Stories Waiting to be Heard

logoBIG RAPIDS – Ferris State University has 125 years of stories and memorabilia. But it’s likely only a fraction of those stories and precious items actually make up the history of the university that is widely known today.

The majority of those stories are waiting to be told. It’s the potential of those unique stories and memorabilia that has piqued the interest of a group of ambitious student historians and others at Ferris.

It is through this interest Jeff Pollock aims to help the rich history of the institution come to life through an ambitious project called “125 Years of Stories, What’s Yours?” A senior from Shelby Township, Pollock is a student in Ferris’ History program and serves as president of the Club History student organization. Pollock’s goal is to work with others to bring stories of the past to life in the present and be preserved for the future.

The event is planned for Oct. 10 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Alumni Building in the Archives (Room 101) and is open to members of the community, alumni, faculty, staff and students. A continental breakfast will be served in the lobby. Participants will be sharing memorabilia and stories with host Tim Pendell. Pendell, a former sports information director at Ferris, currently serves as director of Community Affairs for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. Darlene Novak, area antiques expert and owner of the Big Rapids Antique Shoppe, will be on hand to examine and offer insight on memorabilia brought to the event.

“We want alumni, students, faculty, staff and community members to bring items from their experiences at Ferris and share what makes those items so special to them,” Pollock said. “As much as we look forward to seeing the items people will bring, we’re really interested in their stories of Ferris and having them share their memories of their time here. As history students, this is a huge opportunity for us to get practical experience with oral histories.”

Project organizers say this event will be similar to the PBS program “Antiques Road Show.”

The people behind “125 Years of Stories, What’s Your’s” look forward to rare photos, film, video and audio from past years at Ferris, and are willing to work with individuals to have the stories come to life and be made available for future generations at the university.

“This project is intended to bring to life Ferris objects hidden in homes and make them part of the greater Ferris story,” said Melinda McMartin Isler, university archivist and Special Collections librarian, who emphasized this activity is available to everyone.

As university archivist, McMartin Isler collects, preserves and provides access to materials that document Ferris’ history. These items include photographs, tapes, videos, written documents and more. In addition to providing access to historical documents, McMartin Isler coordinates the records management program for Ferris. Among the notable items preserved is a desk that belonged to Woodbridge N. Ferris, as well as his safe and other items of furniture.

For anyone interested in donating items to the Ferris State University collection, information is available at the Archives.