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American Archives Month Activities

October is American Archives Month and the BYU Library has lined up a series of events for people who enjoy touching a piece of history.

Archives Month activities kick off on Tuesday, October 2, when the library’s Head Conservator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Chris McAfee, hosts a “Conservation Roadshow” where the public is invited to bring their own rare books, diaries, documents, and photographs to the library for evaluation and advice on preservation.

The library’s new film curator, Ben Harry, will present a public screening of the classic horror film from 1940, The Mummy’s Hand on Thursday, October 4 at 7:30 pm. This film was a follow-up to the original Mummy film and it was popular enough to spawn three sequels of its own.

Other events for Archives Month include a lecture by Dr. Kenneth L. Alford, on Calvin Smith, the son of Church president Joseph F. Smith. He served as one of only three Latter-day Saint chaplains during World War I. Wounded twice in front-line combat and recommended for a battlefield promotion, Chaplain Smith actively participated during three major offensives in France and Belgium. Calvin S. SmithUtah “Fighting Chaplain” in the Great War will take place in the library’s Alice Louise Reynolds Auditorium on Wednesday, October 10 at 4:00 pm.

New this year is a “Home Movie Day” on Saturday, October 20, from noon until 4:00 pm. Families are invited to bring a home movie and screen it in the Special Collections classroom. Projectors and screens will be provided and experts on film will be on hand to give advice on where to find help transferring films to digital formats as well as how to preserve old films and related materials for your family.

The most popular event of Archives Month, the annual “Hold a First Edition Book of Mormon Day” is scheduled for October 16 from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. Each year the archivists go to the library’s vaults and bring out one or two copies of the famous book. Everyone is invited to hold it and learn the story of how and where it was made. Participants also get a quick lesson in rare book handling and care. People are constantly surprised that they aren’t asked to wear white gloves like they see experts doing on TV, but Special Collections Reference Specialist Cindy Brightenburg, who has worked with thousands of rare and unique books points out, “When wearing gloves people are more likely to drop books or tear the paper when turning a page. If people wash their hands then there won’t be any oil or dirt, and those are the things that hurt the books.”

Special Collections business hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. Admission to all Archives Month activities is free and the public is welcome. You can learn more about Archives Month by contacting the L. Tom Perry Special Collections at 810-422-3175, or visiting their website at https://lib.byu.edu/special-collections/.