The ELCA Archives: What’s Old is New Again

Cathy Lundeen

We have a new coffeemaker at the archives – maybe I should say “new.” It’s a Bunn Pour-Omatic® commercial coffeemaker and we’ve been able to date its age at circa-1985. I remember my parents having a similar household version of the Pour-Omatic® (it was my family’s first automatic coffeemaker – before that our coffeemaker was a model you may be familiar with – the Mom).  The archives’ other coffeemaker gave up the ghost last month and this one was in storage at ELCA headquarters. All it needed was dusting off, cleaning out and now it’s good to go – we think. We haven’t actually made a pot of coffee yet. We’re letting it get used to its new surroundings. 

The arrival of our vintage coffeemaker got me to thinking: it’s fitting that the archives would be the recipient of a circa-1985 coffeemaker. This is the one place where old is new again. In addition to this coffeemaker, we have many other “appliances” hipsters would call vintage. We have a 16mm film projector, reel-to-reel tape player, filmstrip projector, turntable, u-matic video recorder, a variety of slide viewers, and a magnifying glass that reminds me of something Sherlock Holmes would have used.

What I think is so cool about this stuff is that we use it in our daily work. Just yesterday I was using a slide viewer, aiming it at the overhead light so I could look at some slides taken in the 1940s that we received from a donor. Sure, I could have used our light board, but using this small viewer reminded me of when I was little and I would look at the slides my grandparents took of their trips overseas. And today Joel is using the turntable to play a record of Augustana Luther League conventions from 1951, 1953, and 1955 from which he is making a digital recording.

Every day one of us here is using some piece of this equipment – whether it is the reel-to-reel to player to play recordings of LCA and The ALC conventions, or using the magnifying glass to read handwriting on the back of a late 19th century photograph. We use the various viewers and players to appraise audiovisual collections and also access audio and video content which we digitize using sophisticated scanners and computer software.

Take a look at some of our digitized resources as well as some of the archives’ digitized photographs

Yes, this is the perfect home for the circa-1985 coffeemaker. Like all the other pieces of old equipment here, it has found a new lease on life.