Library moves to save hobo memories

South Dakota State archivists are working to preserve Hobo Day’s legacy before memories are lost, pictures fade and papers yellow beyond saving.

The “Preserving Historic Hobo Day” project invites SDSU alumni and others to digitize their Hobo Day memorabilia to provide a historic account of the 104-year-old tradition.

“We’re trying to fill in the gaps of part of the archives,” said Jessica English, digital initiatives coordinator at the Hilton M. Briggs library.

The archive has more than 340 new items scanned into the system because of the Hobo Day project. The memorabilia includes buttons, bumper stickers, documents, correspondence, photos, newspaper articles, costumes and slides.

Some of the oldest material added to the collection with the project initiative are slides from 1967. English said she’s hoping to add people’s personal pictures to the archive from the ‘80s and more recent decades.

Since the ‘80s, most photos of the best memories from students are captured on their personal cameras or other devices, rather than using official pictures taken by the university, English said.

“Maybe we take for granted that Hobo Day is fun, but it’s really a tradition that’s gone on for 104 years. The university has maintained this tradition and we can see how it’s changed throughout the years,” English said.

English looks forward to Hobo Day Committee bum alums coming back for the celebration and taking part in the project. Together, the bum alums are going to record traditional committee songs this weekend.

History isn’t “just in textbooks,” history is in everyday objects and memories, English said

English encourages students, alumni and community members to visit Briggs Library throughout Hobo Week to digitize their Hobo Day memorabilia. Those who help with the project do not have to donate their memorabilia, they can simply digitize the documents and take them home if desired. A free flash drive with the scanned memorabilia will be provided as well.

The library will host events during Hobo Week for people to learn about the project and scan materials.

SDSU archivists will give a lecture on the history of Hobo Day at Briggs library Friday, Oct. 21 at 4 p.m.

Hobo Day memorabilia can be digitized at Briggs Library Saturday, Oct. 22 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Items can be scanned throughout the year, but appointments should be made in advance.