A project in the Illinois College Department of History and Political Science is being completed thanks to grant funding from the Davee Foundation. Just one project of many being funded by $40,000 in grants from the Chicago-based private foundation over the past five years, the department is working on a time capsule project in the Iver F. Yeager Special Collections and Archives in Illinois College’s Schewe Library.
During the first phase of the time capsule project, sophomore David Johnson of Virden worked steadily through the summer using approved archiving techniques to preserve, organize and catalog more than 1,000 photos. Assistant Professor of History Jennifer Barker-Devine, the faculty member supervising the project, said, “The work moved a bit more slowly than initially anticipated because we took the time to identify the photos to the best of our ability. David scoured old yearbooks, alumni newsletters, past issues of The Rambler student newspaper and the college magazine to determine the ‘who, what, when, where and why’ for each photo. The photos will be much more useful as a result of his research.”
Barker-Devine continued, “We will continue the project this fall adding junior Joe Hogan of Virden and sophomore Carmen Kremitzki of Springfield to the project. This is an excellent experience that familiarizes our students with research methods, archival methods and Illinois College history.”
According to Library Director Martin Gallas, Illinois College has a collection of more than 2,000 photographs covering student life, administrators, teachers and activities at the college over much of the last century. Before being moved to Schewe Library, the collection had been stored in filing cabinets in basement rooms where they were exposed to moisture and fluctuating temperatures. These photographs are now being encapsulated in polypropylene sleeves and stored in archival-grade boxes to prevent irreversible damage.
“The future phases of this ongoing project will digitize and publicize documents and photographs on the Internet to allow more of the college’s rich history to be accessible to students, faculty members and the broader public,” explained Elizabeth Tobin, academic dean of the college.
Davee Foundation grant funds have also allowed Illinois College students to pursue creative oral history projects. The college used grant funds to purchase several digital voice recorders and microphones for students in history and political science courses to complete oral history projects:
:: Steve Hochstadt, professor of history, is guiding his students in recording new oral histories and transcribing previously recorded oral histories of significant Illinois College faculty, administrators and Jacksonville residents to add to a substantial collection in Schewe Library.
:: First-Year Seminar students of Assistant Professor Joseph Genetin-Pilawa interviewed Jacksonville residents and business owners to learn more about the effects of the 2008-2009 recession on the local economy before comparing their findings to the experiences of Americans during the Great Depression.
:: In her course on social movements in American history, Barker-Devine asked her students to use the recorders to interview senior citizens who participated in the Bread of Love meal program. The students asked the seniors about their attitudes toward social change and then used these oral histories as the basis for research papers.
:: A number of students are currently using the recorders to gather oral histories for senior seminar papers. Brianne Koleczek of Tinley Park utilized the recorders in Spain where she spent the summer interviewing Spanish citizens about life under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.
“We have strategically designed these and other grant-funded projects with a student focus, and with the goal of providing high quality learning opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom,” said Karen Dean, professor and chair of history and political science.