Primary Campus Resources in IRs Prove Rich Pedagogical Tools

Students at Bryant University, Trinity University, and Gettysburg College all found rich primary source materials on their own campuses for quality research projects. Students, faculty, archivists, alumni, and librarians are working collaboratively on projects to document the history of their universities and increase student engagement—all beautifully showcased in the collections below.

The Bryant Goes to War collection has drawn the campus community together and allowed faculty, alumni, and students to play active roles in the project’s success. The collection’s 1,400 World War II letters, rediscovered by Mary F. Moroney, Director of Library Services, after decades in a university basement, became the focus of the “Bryant Goes to War” project showcased in the university’s IR. Judy Barrett Litoff , Bryant University Professor and world renowned expert World War II letters, is now using the Bryant artifacts from this time period to teach students about World War II using primary source materials. Several capstone projects can be found in the IR alongside the relevant letters. According to Patricia Schultz, Technical Services Librarian, the project “…has enabled us to encapsulate Bryant’s legacy, memorialize our alumni, and show how Bryant has grown.”

At Trinity University Repository Administrator and Head of Discovery Services, Jane Costanza, had been eager to feature student work in the repository—Trinity University, Then and Now not only meet that need, but was also an opportunity to educate students about Creative Commons licensing. To create it, student Anh-Viet Dinh first worked with University Archivist Amy Roberson to select archival photos for the class project, which superimposes original historic photos of Trinity’s campus over corresponding photographs of the campus in its current state. The Development Office then incorporated Dinh’s project into an annual fundraising campaign. History Professor Kathryn O’Rourke has students use university records to construct historical narratives for each building featured, seen along with the images in the digital collection. Read more in our blog “Partnership with Library Extends Reach of Student Project at Trinity University.”

The innovative Gettysburg collection Hidden in Plain Sight showcases student papers on objects around the Gettysburg College campus, from the Glatfelter Hall gargoyles to the statue of Eisenhower, utilizing an interactive map feature. The papers and images (with pan and zoom) form an important historical collection for the campus. Professor Birkner, whose class carried out this project, said “I am delighted to know that they are now being made available to a wider audience, thanks to the ingenuity and hard work of a team of librarians.”

Janelle Wertzberger, Co-chair of Digital Commons Working Group & Director of Reference and Instruction, points to Slaves, Soldiers, Citizens: African American Artifacts of the Civil War Era as another Gettysburg project in which special collections were used as a robust pedagogical tool. Students in Professor Scott Hancock’s course “Slavery, Rebellion and Emancipation in the Atlantic” wrote essays on this material which are published in the IR alongside the exhibit and resulting book. In addition, according to Gettysburg’s IR, the “vast collection of art and artifacts related to the Civil War…and the African American struggle for emancipation, citizenship and freedom has proved to be an extraordinary resource for Gettysburg College students.” For example, students in the Art Department investigated public representations of a newly freed population in the exhibit “Art, Artifact, Archive: African American Experiences in the Nineteenth Century”—rich resources indeed.