Aug. 7, 2019
“Can I have the typewriter?” That’s the question I asked my sisters as we started the daunting task of cleaning out my dad’s house. There’s a lot of stuff but, as a writer, the antique typewriter was almost calling my name. My gracious and wonderful sisters agreed that I should take it.
I asked my aunt where it came from. All she knew is that it was handed down through my dad’s side of the family. She thought my grandfather used it in his general store, maybe to make price labels. I dated it through the serial number and discovered it was manufactured in 1898 which is a little early for my grandfather to have been the first owner.
Now it sits in my office holding the words of my family’s history imprinted on the original roller. I’ve examined it closely wishing I could make sense of all the letters, but its words remain secret. For now, I’ll have to be content with knowing my grandfather’s fingers once moved across the keys. It’s incredible that it still works. The type is faint, but I’ve now added a few of my own words to its story.
With my dad’s passing, I’ve been thinking a lot about my history and the history I’m creating for my daughter. Today is her birthday and it honestly seems impossible that she’s 27. I swear she was just a toddler and yet she’s this incredible grown woman who inspires me every day. Whether we like it or not, time marches on and our todays become our history.
Everyone and everything has a history — even the land we stand on. In Michigan, we have some pretty special land and water. Our Great Lakes State is home to the largest collection of freshwater coastal dunes in the world. Studying them and their history is key to preserving our natural resources for the future.
Spartan geographer Alan Arbogast recently created the most comprehensive map of Michigan’s dunes, totaling more than 230,000 acres. Read the latest MSUTODAY FEATURE: Spartans map Michigan’s sand dunes, to learn more about this project, why it’s important and listen to a short audiogram from Alan himself.
You can hear another short clip of him talking about our state’s unique geography in the FACULTY VOICE: Great State geography. He did this a couple of summers ago as part of our Great State Road Trip project, but it’s all still relevant.
Ciera Murden is using her history and a unique social media campaign to make better tomorrows for current, new and future Spartans. She created the hashtag #BlackGirlMSU as a way to connect with other women of color on campus to support each other and navigate the ins and outs of college with people of similar backgrounds and experiences. Read her STUDENT VIEW: When a hashtag makes a difference, to learn more about this inspiring Spartan and how she hopes the movement will continue to “spread positivity” and help others succeed.
The really important thing about examining our histories is to use them to inform our futures for the better. We can only look back at the past; we can’t change the good, the bad or the ugly that has gone by. Spartans learn from the past, work hard in the present and plan for an incredible future. Speaking of our future, our new president is wrapping up his first full week on campus. He even started his own Instagram account. Follow him @msupresstanley to keep up with things he’s doing on campus.
As we move through the present, remember that someday someone else will be looking back on it. Leave proud legacies. Do great things. Make a difference. Write histories that matter. #SpartansWill.