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 Bailey Library creates Web site to mark North Hall fire anniversary 



Oct. 15, 2007
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Bailey Library creates Web site to mark North Hall fire anniversary

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -- Slippery Rock University's Bailey Library has launched a Web site   chronicling the fire that destroyed the original North Hall 70 years ago today. The all-girls residence hall burned to the ground, although everyone escaped.

           The site features original photographs, footage and newspaper articles.     

           SRU's Judy Silva and Melba Tomeo, assistant professors of library, created the Web site to mark the anniversary and because "students do research on the history of the University and this is a really big event in our history," Silva said.

           At the time of the fire, The Rocket newspaper reported a bonfire was responsible for the blaze. Under the headline "Ox Roast at S.R. Makes History," The Rocket story begins, "Oh boy! Is the school mad�all because of a little bonfire which was held on the campus right next door to the chapel on Saturday morning, Oct. 16, at 5:20 a.m."

           The fire consumed the girls' personal belongings, but local residents rallied to help the displaced students by providing housing until the new North Hall was completed in 1938.

            A bystander captured the fire on 16 mm film and it has been preserved for posterity. Mark Chase, SRU associate professor of communication, transferred the film to laser videodisk in 1991. Silva and Tomeo converted it to MPEG (54 MB) for the Web site, with the assistance of Brian Danielson in instructional technology.

           Robert Watson, an SRU graduate and retired vice president for student life who wrote a book about the University, added the voiceover. The footage shows Charles Miller, president of the University at the time of the fire, and theater benefactor Emma Guffey Miller at the ground breaking for the new North Hall.

            "It was a huge fire, and it was fortunate for researchers of University history that it was captured so well at the time; on film, in photographs and in The Rocket," Silva said. "It's a piece of our history."

           The Web site showcases the type of materials included on the Keystone Library Network of Pennsylvania Digital Collections as well.

           The North Hall fire Web site is:

           Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.

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