A Remembrance in Posters: Kirkland College Lives on Through the DMC Archive
By Madeleine Cerone
April 6, 2023
Have you ever stared at the patch of grass in between Dunham Residence Hall and Commons Dining? The one where you start your Hamilton experience on, under a huge white tent? There is something more to that spot, something so historical that it holds roots deep underground in a place where you can’t see them.
That field used to be home to The Womyn’s Center, an old building that used to act as a stable long, long ago but instead served as a home and space for women and non-men after Kirkland College merged with Hamilton College. A similar Women’s Resource Center was first created in Kirkland College on what is now the “Dark Side” of campus, and the center alternated between the Kirner-Johnson building, or what is now McEwen Dining. But when Kirkland and Hamilton college merged, the women from Kirkland asked that The Womyn’s Center be created and designated to one, larger building. This building would be big enough to hold an office, a small library, and a display for people to post advertising of women-related events on campus. This new Womyn’s Center would house a safe spot for feminine identities, which was sorely needed at Hamilton. What is now the “Light Side” of campus had been an only men’s school for over a century at the time that Kirkland College conjoined with Hamilton. Before this merge, Hamilton College had never needed, or wanted, a building that could spread awareness about gynecological services, sell menstrual health products, or educate others about feminism, sexual assault, and gender and sexuality.
The requested display is where many students no doubt hung up the posters that the Archive Team at the Days-Massolo Center and Library Information and Technology Services have spent over 100 combined hours digitizing. Over 60 posters from as early as 1979 now sit in the DMC archives for all to read and appreciate. “Through the posters, we are able to see what kinds of things Hamilton students did decades ago, which shows us how ways of thinking and understanding the world have developed over time at the College” Luna, the Archive Lead at the DMC, told me. The way students think about and treat women is far different now than it was in 1979, and this social change can be seen in the posters. The events advertised in these posters include Womyn’s Energy Weekend, past Voices of Color Lecture Series speakers, The Vagina Monologues, and the occasional session with a practicing witch.
Many of the posters have been hand drawn. Fiona, a member of the archive team, mentioned during the presentation at the Women’s History Month exhibit discussion that they enjoyed “getting to know” the posters as they were digitizing them. Each poster had a different style, especially the ones that were drawn with a pen, or painted with watercolors before there were computers to create graphics on. Fiona mentioned that they not only got to spend time with the posters as they were plugging them into the DMC archive, but they also felt like they got to spend time with the artist that created them.
Thank you DMC archive team, Doug Higgins and Lisa McFall from LITS, and Paola Lopez for digitizing these historical works of art so we can learn about and enjoy the memories made by Kirkland and Hamilton College women. One member of our archive team, Jason Casado, mentioned during his presentation about the poster archive that “Kirkland College no longer exists, so it must be studied.” Thanks to this digital exhibit, we now have one more way to keep Kirkland College alive.