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Saturday, October 29 • 3:30pm - 5:00pm
#s3b: Archiving Collective Memory

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Shaping the Future by Engaging the Past: Preserving the Stories of a Discarded Symbol
Rob Sieczkiewicz, Ryan Ake, Rachel Baer, and Jess Deibert (Susquehanna University)

If history is written by the victors, what can students learn from hearing the stories of the other side? When an institution changes its identity to reflect contemporary values, how does a community preserve its discarded traditions?

In 2015, Susquehanna University’s Board of Trustees decided to replace the ‘Crusader’ mascot and nickname, which had been used since 1924. Explaining the rationale for the change, SU President Jay Lemons noted that a university mascot and nickname “should be beloved and unifying symbols,” which the Crusader was not. While some members of the SU community saw the changes as an opportunity to create a more inspiring and unifying iconography, others passionately disagreed with the decision.

Susquehanna students negotiated this divide between administration and alumni/ae through the Crusader History Harvest. This Harvest, modeled on the History Harvests of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was a one-day event, held during homecoming weekend, that invited alumni/ae to bring their Crusader memorabilia back to campus. Students digitized those objects and interviewed the alums, asking about the objects’ meaning to their owners. Presenting the digitized objects and the interviews in an open access online archive offers a glimpse of the power of digital storytelling to bridge the divide between tradition and progress.

In this presentation, Susquehanna students and librarians will address some of the issues raised by the Crusader History Harvest such as how students learn by documenting history as it is being made and how a community preserves its traditions while managing necessary change.

The Discordant Harmony of Distributed Knowledge. The Yale Community Voices Archive
Carol Chiodo, Michael Lotstein, Monica Ong, Douglas Duhaime (Yale University)

How do you build consensus around establishing an institutional archive which seeks to record voices of discord? How might multiple stakeholders strongly disagree, and still work together to record that disagreement?  This presentation outlines the blueprint of a distributed knowledge model used to create the prototype for the Yale Community Voices Archive (YCVA). The model prioritizes creating a core team of stakeholders, identifying their concerns, and then iterating to generate consensus.

The archive, now up and running, gathers, organizes and preserves a wide array of born digital materials representing community perspectives on activism for racial justice on campus. Community sourced accessioning facilitates the collection of crucial contextual materials that will help future students and scholars interpret and understand current campus discussions of race, ethnicity, and social justice. The project responds both to the students’ use of social media for chronicling and debating these events as well as the Yale University Archives’ seeking a user-friendly means of collecting and preserving digital content.

Through this distributed knowledge model, the YCVA doesn’t simply create a space in the archive for underrepresented communities. It asks them to frame their own historical records, to tell their own stories, and to participate in the crucial processes of digital archival design and accession.

Circulation and Use of Indigenous Language Texts in New England
N. C. Christopher Couch (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Religious materials in New England created by John Eliot and his informants are believed to have played a role in extending secular literacy in indigenous languages in Massachusetts and beyond. Printed and manuscript materials are studied as preserved materials in repositories, but they circulated in various spheres in Colonial and early National New England. A sampling inventory of remaining documents combined with information on provenance and ownership could be mapped against the continued use of indigenous languages, the location of communities of “praying Indians” and early reservations to suggest the ways in which such works were used in a variety of communities using GIS or Google-map based software. Such an analysis would move us closer to an understanding of these books and broadsides as circulating, used works, and each remaining copy could contribute to our understanding of the role they played in literacy and language.  A second stage of the project might compare the circulation and use of printed and manuscript materials created by missionaries like Bernardino de Sahagun in indigenous language for conversion uses, including teaching doctrine, theatricals, and public prayer in New Spain (Mexico). questions that would not arise from examining either context alone. I would hope explore parallels between the role of indigenous literacy, fostered by missionary activity but extending far beyond “religious” contexts, in the creation of solidarity within Native communities in New Spain and New England.

avatar for John Hunter

John Hunter

Senior Fellow, Humanities
John Hunter teaches in the Comparative Humanities Program and is Acting Director of the Film/Media Studies Program at Bucknell University. His current scholarly project is developing an online searchable database of feature films.


Ryan Ake

Outreach & Collection Development Librarian, Susquehanna University

Rachel Baer

Susquehanna University

Carol Chiodo

Yale University

N. C. Christopher Couch

University of Massachusetss Amherst

Jessica Deibert

Susquehanna University
avatar for Rob Sieczkiewicz

Rob Sieczkiewicz

Digital Scholarship Librarian, Susquehanna University

Saturday October 29, 2016 3:30pm - 5:00pm
Center Room 2nd Floor, ELC

Attendees (12)