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Preserving The Past

It’s a room piled with boxes and bins that are crammed with countless photos, documents and memorabilia.

For some, organizing such a collection could be daunting. For Bobbie Hinson, it’s the next challenging adventure.

Having recently retired after four decades in the Science Department, Hinson has returned to the school she adores to help manage its archives.

“After being here for 40 years, it’s hard to go cold turkey,” she said. “PDS has been such an integral part of my life, and I see this work in archives as a way to stay connected and to make sure that the school’s history is well documented.”

Hinson is working alongside fellow archivist Neely (Porter) Gutierrez ’92 to organize the massive collection comprising a room in the Thompson-Jones Library fondly referred to as the “Charchives.”

“It’s fun to be working with Neely because she was first my student who then returned to become my colleague and now is my mentor (in the archives),” said Hinson. “I love working with her and reminiscing about the early years. We are constantly telling and retelling stories.”

Gutierrez can still easily recall sitting in Hinson’s 9th-grade biology class where she was inspired to become an educator, one who returned to teach math at PDS in 2011.

“Bobbie was smart, funny, engaging and made science so much fun,” said Gutierrez. “She showed us how to be ‘independent learners’ and how to do ‘hands-on’ science long before these phrases were buzz-words for sound education.”

“Bobbie debunked any myths that I had clung to about science and math being for geeks and nerds,” Gutierrez added. “I wanted to be just like her.”

Now the two of them are working side by side to catalog the school’s history. For many years items were saved and stored but never truly organized or recorded. Former PDS librarian Kristin Brockmeier had begun a collection in the library while the then-development office had been storing items of their own — photos and such to be used for alumni reunions and marketing collateral.

Then two years ago the development archives were moved to the library and the Charchives was born.

“It differs from a typical archives because while we keep documents and photos, we also keep selected artifacts and items to be checked out for special events,” said Gutierrez.

Hinson estimates the archives now contains thousands of photos, as well as countless publications (yearbooks, graduation programs, magazines, etc.), mugs, T-shirts, letter jackets and uniforms, VHS and Betamax tapes, awards, legal documents and architectural drawings of buildings past, present and future.

“We have videos of tributes to faculty members, dedication ceremonies, the TK circus, Okefenokee Swamp trips and more,” said Hinson. “We have examples of logos that span the 45 years of the school’s history, banners, flags, and the time capsules that juniors have been doing for years.”

The current space is too confining to archive everything they have, said Hinson. “We have multiple copies of things that will most likely end up being digitized with only one copy being preserved,” she said.

In addition to organizing what they already have, Hinson said they’re aiming to develop and share with the PDS community their best practices for procuring items and memorabilia.

Hinson has been finding creative ways to organize some of the items. “Trying to figure out which photos went with the correct yearbook bins was fun,” she admitted. “I was able to do it by finding my own children and their friends to gauge the timeframe.”

It’s one of the many reasons Hinson is the “perfect fit” for the Charchives, said Gutierrez.

“She knows everyone,” said Gutierrez. “She has been instrumental in filling in gaps of stories we have uncovered and identifying key players, especially from the early years of the school.”

Recently, the archivists helped prepare for Homecoming and Reunion Weekend Oct. 16-17, searching for photos of the eight graduating classes — including the first class, 1975 — that were being celebrated.

“Pulling old photos, athletic programs and yearbooks brings back great memories of each of these classes for me,” said Hinson.

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