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Alumni Spotlight: Elizabeth Cassidy West

Posted Sept. 27, 2017


Elizabeth Cassidy West, B.A. '89 and MLIS '95, works for the South Caroliniana Library. She also has an M.A. in History. Her unique educational background has provided her with the foundation needed to serve as university archivist.

What do you do in your current job?
I manage the University Archives, which is the repository for the university’s historical records. These records date back to the school’s founding in 1801 and include minutes of the board of trustees, photographs, maps, university publications, and correspondence of administrators, such as the president. I assist researchers in accessing these collections, consult for university projects, provide information and images for media requests, and conduct outreach activities for the South Caroliniana Library, including exhibits, presentations on university history, and history tours of the Horseshoe. I’ve written several books on Carolina’s history; the most recent is "On the Horseshoe: A Guide to the Historic Campus of the University of South Carolina," with my coauthor, Katharine Thompson Allen.

What’s the most interesting or significant thing you’ve done since graduating?
The acquisition of the diploma of Richard T. Greener was a great thrill. A Reconstruction era diploma was one of my holy grails of USC history. Carolina was integrated during Reconstruction, from 1873 to 1877, but we did not have a single diploma from that significant time period. In a moment of serendipity, a construction worker in Chicago discovered a trunk of materials belonging to Greener in a house under demolition. Greener was our first African American faculty member, teaching here during Reconstruction as well as earning his law degree here in 1876. Finding his diploma in such a way was magical.

What are you passionate about in your work?
An archive lives, breathes and speaks with thousands of voices in the collections preserved within its walls. My passion is to bring to life the stories within those collections, to share them so that students and visitors alike who walk across this campus gain a sense of what has come before them, what has changed, and what still resonates today.

What did you learn while in school at the CIC that still resonates today?
I learned in both the journalism and the library science schools to evaluate sources of information. It doesn’t matter how information is delivered as long as it’s accurate and documented.

Do you have a favorite professor or a favorite memory from your time at the CIC?
I adored the late Dr. Lee Dudek in journalism. Dr. Connie Schulz was my mentor in the library school and guided me into the world of archives.