In 1995, Elizabeth Cook placed an ad in a San Francisco paper, looking for work and offering to process and arrange papers. The next day she found herself in a warehouse filled with fan mail and artifacts from the Allman Brothers Band. She discovered she really enjoyed reading other people's mail as she sifted through mountains of proposition-filled love letters.
“I thought, ‘How exhausting. How did they have time to sing?’” Cook said. “And that's how I began as an archivist.”
For the past 18 years, Elizabeth Cook and her husband, Gerard “Jerry” Cook, have served as archivists and special collections coordinators at the Dayton Memorial Library. At the end of the school year, the couple will retire to Southwest Colorado.
Elizabeth Cook started at Regis in 2001 when a five-year grant ended at the Denver Public Library. Jerry Cook was pulled back into the workforce in 2007 by the enticement of cataloging the newly acquired collection of Vice Adm. Richard H. Truly, formerly NASA's administrator for Space Flight. A major contributor to NASA's Return to Flight program after the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger, the collection includes Truly's personal papers, communications and art pieces. Some of the art is showcased in the Felix Pomponio Family Science Center.
“Truly’s favorite piece is the first memo that he published on how [NASA] was going to proceed with their plan for returning the space shuttle to flight,” Jerry Cook said.
With two decades combined at Regis, the Cooks have helped create a place of warmth and knowledge within the Dayton Memorial Library Archives. The archives began as dust-covered piles of boxes on the dirt floor of Main Hall, filled with administrative charters. They have developed into a place where history comes alive to engage and enlighten visitors and scholars alike.
There is much here to behold and study: African artifacts, the Notarianni U.S. presidential campaign collection, Edward S. Curtis’ “The North American Indian” collection, and an assemblage of composer and recorder pioneer Erich Katz's writings and music. These collections, and more, help enrich the Regis curriculum.
“Having a broader picture of how you can interact with the world is something I think Regis does very well,” Elizabeth Cook said. “One of the things I've felt was the most distinguished about Regis is being able to be a part of this community and the emphasis of services to others.”