“Sisters Launch Digital Archive” in the Alumnae Bulletin

Thanks to the Bryn Mawr Bulletin for featuring our seven institution collaboration, College Women: Documenting the History of Women in Higher Education in the November 2015 issue, which also features an important set of “Letters to the Editor” on the topic of Black at Bryn Mawr. We look forward to sharing our work with more alumnae/i in the new year!

Read more at the Bulletin site, here, and explore the College Women site online at collegewomen.org.


Finding Religion at College? Documenting the History of Women in Higher Education


Mount Holyoke students walking by Abbey Chapel, ca. 1940s. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections, via collegewomen.org.

After returning from the Digital Library Federation Forum in Vancouver, I reflected on one of the College Women site’s lesser themes, religion. How might we go about studying religion at the women’s colleges?

As someone who has studied, taught, and written about American religion and American women’s higher education separately for quite some time, I’m intrigued by conversations about the place of religion on college campuses, in both the built environment and the curriculum. Our Seven Sisters digital project (collegewomen.org) and conversations with my students who participate in religious life on the 21st-century campus show me new ways of continuing these lines of inquiry, in the College Archives and in our new virtual portal.

Read more over at Religion in American History: Finding Religion at College? Documenting the History of Women in Higher Education. [link]

Black at Bryn Mawr: What’s Next?


* cross-posted from the Black at Bryn Mawr blog *

Good question!

I’ve been invited by the Bryn Mawr College Pensby Center to kick off this year’s Diversity Conversations programming – this Wednesday, September 30 at noon – with a look at the past, present, and future of the Black at Bryn Mawr project. During 2015-2016, I will continue to manage the project, providing new research and integrating it with my teaching and the work of the Greenfield Digital Center. I feel the loss of the project’s creators, Emma Kioko ’15 and Grace Pusey ’15 greatly — their energy and expertise made Emma’s idea for a Black history walking tour real, and far more successful than we ever could have imagined at this time last year. Our students graduate, and move on in their research and careers; talk of sustainability for campus history projects in the small liberal arts college environment must reflect this.

For those who can not attend the conversation, I am making my slides available via Slideshare (click here) and welcome comments and further questions below. Today’s presentation also dovetails with the work I am just beginning as a co-organizer of the 2016 NCPH Working Group “Campus History as Public History,” which is taking applications through October 15, 2015. Can we create best practices for these kinds of projects?

As always, the conversation also continues on Twitter: #BlackatBrynMawr and #campushistories.

“I never knew what I might find in the boxes”: Temple University student David Polanco on Archives and Teaching

This blog post has been written by David Polanco, one of two Temple University students who discovered Bryn Mawr Special Collections last Fall as part of the Greenfield Digital Center’s third year participating in the Cultural Fieldwork Initiative organized by Greenfield Digital Center Advisory Board member and Temple University historian Christine Woyshner. David spent his semester researching the history of women’s sports and women’s colleges — a topic of continuing relevance to both students and the general public.

David Polanco looks through the 1905 Bryn Mawr yearbook (photo by Monica Mercado)

David Polanco looks through the 1905 Bryn Mawr yearbook (photo by Monica Mercado)

My field experience at Bryn Mawr College Special Collections was a great one. They manage extensive collections of art, artifacts, rare books, manuscripts, and photographs, and also have a wide-ranging digital archive on the history of women’s education, and resource guides. The Greenfield Digital Center’s online gateway has digital primary resources, instructional activities, and opportunities for teachers and students.

One of the reasons why Bryn Mawr was my top choice [for the Cultural Fieldwork Initiative placement] was because of the chance to learn more about women’s education. Women’s history usually gets lost in the shuffle when teachers teach U.S. History classes. Women are a huge part of the fabric of American history and Bryn Mawr College is a great resource. Continue reading

Black at Bryn Mawr: The Walking Tour

Poster by Grace Pusey.

Poster by Grace Pusey. 

The Greenfield Digital Center has been proud to support the work of Praxis III independent study students Emma Kioko ’15 and Grace Pusey ’15, whose semester-long project Black at Bryn Mawr includes a new walking tour of campus featuring their research. In February, Grace shared the origins of the project with readers, and since that time, they have presented their work-in-progress at Bryn Mawr’s Community Learning Day in March and at the Telling Untold Histories unconference earlier this month.

Emma and Grace will debut their walking tour on campus the week of April 21. For more details, see their blog, Black at Bryn Mawr. The project will also be featured at the final Friday Finds event of the semester, this Friday, April 24 from 4-5pm in Canaday 205 (Special Collections Seminar Room).

In May, Grace will debut the project’s digital component, a map of campus built on Google Open Tour Builder, at Women’s History in the Digital World 2015. Future project-related events will be featured on the Black at Bryn Mawr site.


Special Collections and “Workable Lessons”: Temple University student Matt Cahill explores Bryn Mawr history

Today’s guest blogger, Temple University student Matt Cahill, reflects on his experiences doing research at Bryn Mawr Special Collections as part of the Cultural Fieldwork Initiative organized by Greenfield Digital Center Advisory Board member and Temple University historian Christine Woyshner. We wish Matt well as he completes his studies and student teaching later this year!

Matt Cahill in Bryn Mawr Special Collections, November 2014

Matt Cahill in Bryn Mawr Special Collections, November 2014 (photo by Monica Mercado)

Prior to this experience, I did not have much experience working in cultural institutions, beyond doing outdoor maintenance for a historic property in Haverford Township. As a result, I was excited that I was going to be spending time during my Fall semester at Bryn Mawr College Special Collections!

Since Bryn Mawr is one of the oldest women’s colleges in the country, they have a vast collection of artifacts, documents, and photos relating to the College and women’s history. I was surprised how many people entered Special Collections just to look at the archives! For example, when I attended a Personal Digital Archiving Day workshop, members of the Bryn Mawr College fencing team came wondering how they can preserve their history for future generations to study. There were also scholars from as far as England who spent time in the Special Collections reading room. Since I live by the College, I take it for granted.

I thought only very large museums and institutions [maintained] special collections. However, I realized that no matter the size of the institution, it is important to maintain collections because they provide a lens for understanding larger events or phenomena.

Photo by Matt Cahill.

On Bryn Mawr’s campus (photo by Matt Cahill)

The best example of this was on my very first day, as I was finding my way to campus. At the entrance of the College’s guest parking lot, there is a historic marker about President Woodrow Wilson. Reading the marker, I found out that Wilson was the first history professor at the College in the 1880s. I lived nearby for years and never knew this! So when I started looking through Bryn Mawr Special Collections, I went straight to the collections of faculty papers. Some of the files I read included syllabi from Wilson’s classes and letters he sent. One letter I found was Wilson complaining that teaching women was below him — he did not see the point. I found this extremely interesting because Wilson later became the President about the time of the woman’s suffrage movement. By reading a letter like this, I was saw Wilson’s views of women before he became a national figure.

Continue reading

Bryn Mawr College Community Learning Day: March 18, 2015

Cross-posted from LITS blog:

Library & Information Technology Services staff and student employees are excited to participate fully in Bryn Mawr’s first Community Learning Day, scheduled for Wednesday, March 18. A number of the day’s interest sessions have been planned by staff and students associated with LITS. They include:

  • Women of Summer, a screening of the documentary film on the Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry and discussion with filmmaker Rita Heller ’59 and Greenfield Center Assistant Director Evan McGonagill
  • Experiences of African American, Latina/o, and Asian American Staff panel, featuring Rod Matthews, Multimedia and Computer Specialist
  • Back Talk: Experience, Challenges & Controversy Working with the Bryn Mawr College African Art Collections, highlighting the new Special Collections exhibit in Canaday, including discussion with exhibition organizers Whitney Lopez, ’15 and Brian Wallace, Curator/Academic Liaison for Art & Artifacts
  • Black at Bryn Mawr: Walking Tour and Archives Project conversation with Emma Kioko ’15, Grace Pusey ’15, and Greenfield Center Director Monica Mercado, who are working to share stories of Bryn Mawr’s history of race and racism
  • Building Institutional Memory workshop, featuring Charlie Bruce ’16 and Rachel Appel, Digital Collections Librarian

These and all of the day’s events are designed to welcome a wide range of participants to learn together. The website will be updated with descriptions for all the interest sessions in the coming week, and you can follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #Mawr2learn. We’ll be tweeting from @BrynMawrLITS and @GreenfieldHWE.

All three libraries will be open, and event programming is scheduled for Carpenter and Canaday.  We look forward to learning with you!

For more information and a schedule for the day, including a link to preregistration: https://www.brynmawr.edu/community-learning

Black at Bryn Mawr

The Greenfield Digital Center is currently supporting the work of three students undertaking Praxis III independent study projects exploring lesser-known aspects of Bryn Mawr College history. This week, two of those students — Grace Pusey and Emma Kioko, both Class of 2015 — are formally launching their research project, Black at Bryn Mawr. Readers can stay up-to-date with their research via the Black at Bryn Mawr blog and tumblr. Today, Grace shares the origins of the project, and its goals.

This semester Emma Kioko and I are collaborating on a Praxis III independent study course titled Black at Bryn Mawr, a project that will illuminate the history and experiences of Black students, faculty, and staff at the College. Using Bryn Mawr Special Collections as well as primary sources archived outside of the College, we are analyzing the ways in which Bryn Mawr has chosen to record, remember, and represent racism in its history. Using the archives, we are identifying spaces of both racial conflict and conversation on campus in order to develop a final project in the form of a campus walking tour and a digital historical record.

Continue reading

Greenfield in the Classroom: Teaching the History of Women’s Higher Education


Bryn Mawr College classroom, undated, via Triptych.

Professor Samuel Clagget Chew’s Bryn Mawr College classroom, undated, via Triptych.

This semester I’m back in the classroom, teaching a History Department seminar “Higher Education for Women: Bryn Mawr and Beyond.” With apologies to Professor Samuel Claggett Chew (pictured left), my class of smart Bryn Mawr third- and fourth-years looks absolutely nothing like the lecture class of old. We divide our time between the classroom, Special Collections, and a course blog** linking past and present.

That blog, along with links to my syllabus and digital resources, is now live:

HIST B332 Higher Education for Women: Bryn Mawr and Beyond

Although my students aren’t tweeting this semester, I’m tracking my class prep on Twitter (reviving the hashtag #bmchistory) and I look forward to using this space for reflecting on teaching the course and the research that it inspires. But today I wanted to put a call out to historians of education — how do you teach women’s higher education, in the U.S. and abroad? Similarly, how do women’s historians include the history of education in their teaching? Might we begin sharing our syllabi and readings with each other, online?

“Syllabi show how scholars put together a whole field,” reminds historian Lincoln Mullen in a recent Religion in American History blog post. “Yet unfortunately teaching documents are shared less routinely than our research, so we are much more likely to know a scholar’s books and articles than her syllabi.” This year I’m planning to overhaul the “Classroom” section of the Greenfield Center website, which currently focuses on high school lesson plans, by adding college-level syllabi and resources — much like the CLGBTH does for teaching histories of sexuality. [The Open Syllabus Project offers another intriguing model for analysis and visualization of what we teach.] In part, I’m curious to learn if and how women’s education history is being taught these days, but most of all, I continue to hope we can be more vigilant about sharing our work in the classroom, as much as we remember to share our research and digital projects.

** Students were given the option to blog anonymously, although no student has yet to choose this option. On student privacy and class blogging (or other instances of student work online that may be publicly visible), I’ve consulted this list of resources collected by Whittier College DigLibArts.

#ProjectPerry Preview: Tuesday, January 27 at 4pm

The Relaunching Perry House Committee has been meeting since the fall, and we’re excited to gather on campus this afternoon to share a preview of plans for its reopening, slated for the next academic year.

Details and RSVP here.

Interested in learning more? Earlier this week, committee member Khadijah Seay, Bryn Mawr College Class of 2016, shared some thoughts on her blog, Life at the Mawr.

On the history of Perry House, visit “A Point of Difference: Diversity at Bryn Mawr College,” the digital exhibition created by Alexis de la Rosa, Bryn Mawr College Class of 2015, and Lauren Footman, Bryn Mawr College Class of 2014. Their research provides both the historical context of what was originally designed as a black cultural center at Bryn Mawr College, and highlights some of the original correspondence on the matter between students and administrators in the early 1970s.

As a member of the subcommittees on programming and library space, I’m particularly interested in how we collect the history of Perry House, build on that history, and imagine a vibrant future for the space.

Bryn Mawr College brochure, 1985. See the complete document here.

Bryn Mawr College brochure, 1985. See the complete document on Triptych.

One of the things we’ll be discussing in the coming months is the future of the Perry House library, which officially opened in September 1989. As we know from other explorations of campus history, Bryn Mawr College students have often been library builders.

"Realizing the dream" in The College News, 1989. Read the article here.

“Realizing the dream” in The College News, September 1989. Read the article here.

The Relaunching Perry House Committee looks forward to collecting community input, as well as reaching out to alumnae/i in the next few months. One way to connect with us is on Twitter: #ProjectPerry. A full list of committee members is online, with plans for a blog coming soon. Thoughts? Memories? Connect with us in the comments below.