“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

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

‘Primary sources have the potential to help teachers in the classroom’: Temple student Adrian Wieszczyk on her experiences at Bryn Mawr

This blog post has been written by Adrian Wieszczyk, a student at Temple University who is currently completing her training to become a high school teacher. Adrian is one of three students this year who used our collections as part of the National History Day Philly Cultural Collaboration Initiative. As with our other participants, we thank Adrian for her hard work and wish her all the best with completing her studies!

My name is Adrian Wieszczyk and I am a student at Temple University. I have had the pleasure to work with Bryn Mawr College this semester through a field work internship. Through my experience I have felt very welcomed and aware of the resources and tools that Bryn Mawr provides, due to the helpful staff. As a result, I have discovered primary documents within the special collections that have potential to help teachers use primary documents within their classroom. The intended outcome of this internship through Temple was to introduce me to working with museums or archives as a future teacher and become more aware of resources provided. As for Bryn Mawr, my project was to create a lesson plan for their website using documents within their special collections. I believe that this project is very helpful for teachers, considering many teachers are unable to look through the rich resources and documents that institutions carry.

My particular focus was the female culture and role in the Prohibition era. I chose this topic because I found a few interesting documents that were published in Bryn Mawr’s Lantern of 1922-24 that discussed different perspectives and beliefs about the Prohibition. Unfortunately, I was unable to discover all of the documents and resources on the prohibition because of the time restraint but I was still able to take advantage of the documents I did find. My finalized project is a lesson plan called women in the prohibition. This lesson teaches the different organizations and cultures of females during the prohibition. For instance, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Women’s Organization for Prohibition Reform, and the cultural perspective of a “Flapper“. I really enjoyed researching these organizations as well as creating a lesson plan to further student’s knowledge of the female role in the prohibition.

Overall this experience has furthered my knowledge and skills as a student and as a future teacher. I have enjoyed developing relationships with the staff at Bryn Mawr as they have been extremely welcoming and helpful. I have learned a great deal about Bryn Mawr and other institutions in regards to getting involved as a future teacher. This knowledge will help me as I create lesson plans for my classroom and use the resources and primary documents that institutions, like Bryn Mawr College, carry and provide. I look forward to keeping in contact with Bryn Mawr College and using their digital archives to improve my upcoming lessons.



Women, athletics, Constance Applebee and National History Day: An intern insiders view

Marion Reid, Temple University Student

This blog post has been written by Marion Reid, a student teacher at Temple University who has used our collections as part of the National History Day Philly Cultural Collaboration Initiative. We wish Marion well with the rest of her studies!

Bryn Mawr Canaday Library – Special Collections has a wealth of information on Women’s History from the late 19th century to the present. As an intern at Bryn Mawr’s Special Collections, Canaday Library, I am awed by the vast amount of valuable information available on Women’s History to the public and the school community.  Such information is on women who have been at Bryn Mawr as students, staff member or otherwise. There is a team of staff members who will provide assistance to researchers or those who need to use the facilities. My mentor/supervisor, Dr. Jennifer Redmond – who is part of this team – has been extremely helpful in helping my colleagues and me in accessing primary and secondary resources online and at the library. Being at Bryn Mawr has taught me how to handle pictures, clippings and many other documents, as my namesake Marianne Hansen is always there to give us invaluable insight on how to handle these resources.

Constance Applebee, courtesy of Bryn Mawr College Archives

My aim is to evaluate the political and cultural contributions of Constance Applebee as part of the History curriculum for Grade 12 which requires an examination of  individuals and/or groups in Pennsylvania’s History from 1890 until now. My main interest is in the area of sports and Constance Applebee’s role therein.  She has influenced and shaped the development of sports – field hockey at Bryn Mawr College, Harvard University and many other institutions as well as the United States in general. I have also looked at two other women; Margaret Ayer Barnes, a novelist and a former student of Bryn Mawr College who wrote many novels during the early 1900s such as “Bridal Wreath” which  I have read and which is one of her many romantic novels. I think these novels could and should be used to encourage teenagers to read.  Additionally, I have done some research on Hope Emily Allen who was a feminist who spoke on values and identity. I was unable to delve further into the information on Hope Emily Allen as time does not permit.

However, I am impressed with the work of Constance Applebee who is my main research interest. She was able to introduce field hockey in the USA and make it a success, having taught along the east coast USA and the rest of the country. She was not only a sport enthusiast but also a volunteer. She encouraged and enrolled her team members in the ambulance service where they took care of orphans in homes. These children were not only provided with food, shelter, and clothing. They were entertained, taken to the beach and also tucked into bed.

Presently, I am pursuing my studies in Social Studies Education, at the secondary level at Temple University. I started at the beginning of Fall Semester on August 27, 2012; and expect to graduate next Fall November, 2013. My passion is teaching. I taught for more than 20 years in Jamaica.

The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education participates in second year of award winning Cultural Collaboration Fieldwork Initiative

The National Archives at Philadelphia Education Program, as part of its leadership of National History Day Philly, partnered in 2011 with Temple University’s Secondary Social Studies Certification Program. The idea behind the collaboration is to inspire pre-service teachers to work with primary sources and thus encourage their students to create projects for National History Day.

Student participants in National History Day Philly at a reception at City Hall with Mayor Michael Nutter

Bryn Mawr College Special Collections became involved in this through The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education. The Director, Dr. Jennifer Redmond, mentored three Temple University students, Lisa MacMurray, Sam Perry and Teddy Knauss. The students were given the chance to collaborate in designing a lesson plan on the history of women’s education aimed to encourage high school students to research this important topic. Based on the archival material held at Bryn Mawr, the fieldwork experience collaboration allowed the student to create their own lesson plans based on letters, speeches, photographs and pamphlets from the nineteenth and twentieth century, all of which illuminate the lives of women educated at Bryn Mawr. The lesson plans will appear on The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women and Higher Education’s new website which is due to launch soon and will constitute one of the key resources developed to publicize the project and reach out to teachers and students alike.

We were among a range of institutions involved in the collaboration, which developed different ways to engage the students to think about the use of primary sources in their classrooms. The 2011 Participating Partners included the following:

  • American Swedish Historical Museum
  • Athenaeum of Philadelphia
  • Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University Libraries
  • Bryn Mawr Special Collections Department, Mariam Coffin Canaday Library, Bryn Mawr College
  • Cliveden of the National Trust
  • The Drexel University Archives and Special Collections
  • Legacy Center for Archives and Special Collections at Drexel University College of Medicine
  • Fairmount Waterworks Interpretive Center
  • Free Library of Philadelphia
  • Historic St. George’s UMC
  • Historical Society of Pennsylvania
  • Independence Seaport Museum – J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library
  • National Archives at Philadelphia
  • National Constitution Center
  • Pennsbury Manor
  • Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL)
  • Pennsylvania Hospital
  • Philadelphia City Archives
  • Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Special Collections Research Center at Temple University Libraries
  • Dorrance H. Hamilton Public Media Commons at WHYY

Pre-service history teacher Teddy Knauss worked on a lesson plan designed for AP students, focusing on issued of diversity. As part of this he examined materials relating to the Bryn Mawr Summer School of Women Workers and critically analyzed issues of race and diversity in the history of women’s education. The Summer School, and those held at other college campuses across the USA, is the focus of an exhibit on our site which will be live soon.

Samantha Perry worked with fellow student Lisa MacMurray in producing a lesson plan on women’s struggle for access to higher education in the US. They looked at the entrance exams for the Seven Sisters colleges and compared them also with those of some of the men’s Ivy League colleges.

The Cultural Fieldwork Initiative recently won two awards for its work on this program: the Innovative Teaching Award from Temple University College of Education and an Outstanding Program of Excellence Award from the Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies. Members of the initiative will be contributing an article, “Textbooks and Teaching” to the March 2013 special edition of the Journal of American History.

The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education will again be participating in the program when it launches in September. We hope to find more exciting areas of research to work with Temple students in producing lesson plans. In the meantime, if you are a teacher and would like to use our collections to create your own lesson plan, be sure to get in touch (jredmond@brynmawr.edu).

Below, Director of the Center Dr. Jennifer Redmond (third from right) at a ceremony at City Hall to mark the achievements of students at the National History Day Philadelphia competition at City Hall. With thanks to the Mayor, Michael Nutter, and to Ang Reidell and V. Chapman Smith (right and left of the mayor respectively) for their hard work on the Cultural Collaboration Initiative and their continued work on the program.

For more information on the initiative contact:

Andrea (Ang) Reidell,
Education Specialist
National Archives at Philadelphia