Brown Alumni Re-United with Historic Snail-Mail "In-Box" with the help of Scholarly Awards

March 25, 2013 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
Like many of us this time of year, Brown University has been cleaning out its attic….and it has about 4,000 items it's prepared to offer to alumni and friends.

Beginning at the end of March, the Brown University Bookstore is offering for sale approximately 4,100 vintage brass mailboxes—-the same student boxes originally installed in Faunce House in 1952 and salvaged when the facility was renovated several years ago. Each mailbox has been incorporated into a classic wooden "piggybank" memento, available for sale online, with a limited number also being offered at the Brown University Bookstore.

Brown Alumni will be able to request the very box they had as a student, with orders for specific box numbers being fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis. Both Brown Alumni (What was your student mailbox number?) and the general public, can also order random boxes—-perhaps the same box whose dials were turned daily by alumni ranging from Ted Turner ('60) and Brian Moynihan ('81), to Chris Berman ('77), Lisa Loeb ('90) and John Krasinski( '02).

"It's a tremendous opportunity for us on several levels", explains Brown Bookstore Director Steve Souza. "We're obviously delighted to bring in revenue from what could've easily been discarded. But just as important", Souza notes, "is the way we're doing it. We're doing it in a way that's really created a lot of excitement and nostalgia among our alumni; and, at the same time, we've managed to preserve a little bit of history. You add all of that together, and it makes for a pretty great combination".

The banks housing the mailboxes were both designed and manufactured by Scholarly Awards, which specializes in custom Lucite awards, and gifts for the college and university market. "Until relatively recently, these were the only 'inbox' a Brown student had", says David Parry, Director of Digital Strategy at Scholarly Awards, and a graduate of Brown. "You scrutinized it a couple of times a day, every day, for four years. It's very satisfying to see these boxes preserved and repurposed—-and in a way that benefits the University".

"You have to credit the Bookstore and a number of people at Brown for making this happen", Parry adds. "The easy path would've simply been to toss the boxes, or more likely, just let them sit forgotten in storage somewhere for the next couple of thousand semesters".

Storage, in fact, became an issue, with the cache of boxes having been moved a total of seven times among various university properties. The responsibility for coming to terms with them ultimately fell to Souza. "I was like the guy who had to part with the old family car", the Bookstore Director explains. "However reluctantly, you know you have to get it out of your driveway, but you want to make sure you do it the right way".