For my job at the Writing Center I am putting together a presentation about our student newspaper, The Free Press, as a promotional tool to recruit new staff members. My boss made the suggestion that part of this presentation should be a section highlighting past staff members who have gone on to have prominent careers in journalism.
My immediate thought was to scour the Internet and see if Wendy Ruderman, alum of ’91 and Pulitzer Prize winner, had ever written for the Free Press. Ruderman came to McDaniel to speak when I was a freshman, and she told us both about her time at McDaniel (well, then Western Maryland) and her award-winning investigative series “Tainted Justice.” She is currently working on a book about the process of writing the series.
My search immediately led me to the archives of the Free Press, which are compiled on our library’s website. I found that in 1990 Ruderman was a staff reporter, and some additional browsing led me to a profile about her after she wrote a play which was performed at school. In the profile, she said that after her graduation she wanted to be a writer in San Francisco. “I am willing to write for a tampon box,” she said. “You have to start somewhere.”
Since then, I’ve been thinking about the contexts in which the archives can be useful to students. For other Free Press writers, it would be interesting to browse them in order to recycle story ideas. In a broader sense, anyone interested in notable alums could see if anything was written about or by them when they attended McDaniel. Finally, it’s hilarious just to browse through old editions and look at the ridiculous mullets and perms everyone had. Our archives give us a sense of what McDaniel was like for students before us, a sense of history that is not often tangible.