Sammy Eddy '13 researches Ninetta Runnals with help from the Colby Fund.
Since her first year on campus, Sammy Eddy ’13 has walked by the Runnals building almost daily, but it took a research internship for her to find out who Ninetta Mae Runnals, Class of 1906, really was.
With financial support through the Colby Fund, Eddy spent summer 2012 working in Special Collections at Miller Library researching Runnals, a former dean of the women’s division and later a Colby trustee. Colby’s published histories mention Runnals, an important figure in women’s issues at Colby, in a handful of paragraphs. But Eddy was able to piece together a 40-page white paper by scrutinizing archival materials like Colby Echo articles, Board of Trustees meeting minutes, and Runnals’s personal notes.
Eddy’s interest in Runnals was piqued because Runnals’s work seemed closely tied to Eddy’s own experience as a feminist and member of the Pugh Community Board. Additionally, the project gave Eddy valuable experience in archival research that she intends to carry on to graduate school next year. “I was able to not only learn about archival data but really get used to it,” she said. “I’m at the point where I’m able to talk to professors at grad schools and say, ‘you know, I have experience in this,’ and they get excited because it’s not something you run across.”
Special Collections hires a student researcher like Eddy each year and depends on support from the Colby Fund to do so. Past projects have explored Colby in wartime and the Jewish experience at Colby. Assistant Director for Special Collections Patricia Burdick says the projects transform students as they dig deeply into primary source materials from Colby’s past. She relies on those students to create a richer view of Colby’s history and to help glean valuable information from the archives as they research particular topics.
Without support from the Colby Fund, Eddy likely would have missed this opportunity to work with Special Collections and celebrate Ninetta Runnals’s contributions to Colby. Archival studies frequently happen in urban areas—expensive places for a student to spend a summer. The presence of a position here at Colby put the archival research experience within Eddy’s grasp. Without the Colby Fund, she said, ““I wouldn’t have economically, feasibly, been able to do a job like this.”
You'll find more about Sammy Eddy and Ninetta Runnals, including a video, at Colby Magazine.