It’s been a busy few weeks at the Latina History Project! Having processed, selected, and digitized primary source materials pertaining to a 1992 Southwestern University photography exhibition titled “Rostros y Almas/Faces and Souls” including the work of photographer Mary Jesse Garza and featuring influential Central Texas Latinas, student workers Tori and Nani have been hard at work building a Latina History Project online exhibit. Since the photography exhibit represents an important intersection between Latina history and SU’s institutional history, the students are using Omeka, a web-publishing platform to build digital collections and exhibits, to highlight primary source materials pertaining to the planning and execution of the 1992 photography exhibition. We still have work to do before the site goes public, but here’s a sneak peek at the landing page:
And here’s a shot of us collaborating on the site:
In order to get the site up and running, we had to decide on an Omeka “theme” to determine the aesthetic identity of the site. We also had to decide what metadata fields would be most relevant and useful to identify and describe the assortment of digitized primary source items we want to include in the exhibit. Establishing the basics of the site turned out to be a great opportunity to talk about the identity of our project at large, and relatedly, what descriptive categories we want to prioritize in order to convey the significance of the selected primary sources to Latina and SU history. We hope to launch the public site in Fall 2015.
In addition to establishing the Omeka site, the students also recorded their own oral histories, which we will include as primary sources on the site. We took advantage of SU’s newly acquired sound booth in the Smith Library Center (acknowledgements to the Mellon Foundation for the grant funds that enabled us to get the sound booth!).
Dr. Sendejo brought her extensive experience conducting oral histories to bear facilitating the session with Tori and Nani. She invited the students to share their experiences and thoughts including:
-impressions of Southwestern University upon arrival, and current perceptions of SU from their perspectives as Latinas.
-experiences with the Latina History Project.
-connections between the Latina History Project and their lived experiences at SU.
-reflections on the 175th Anniversary of SU, including representations (or lack thereof) of the Latina/o experience in campus anniversary celebrations.
Tori and Nani shared their dynamic perspectives on experiences of both inclusion and exclusion at SU. Nani shared that for her, one of the most valuable aspects of the Latina History Project is the opportunity to literally “take history out of the box.” In the process of selecting, digitizing, and exhibiting Latina history primary source materials that were delivered to us in a mid-sized paper storage box, we’re thinking “outside the box” about SU’s institutional history: highlighting the history of the 1992 “Rostros y Almas/Faces and Souls” photography exhibit is a way to insert a Latina historical perspective into our university’s institutional narrative. Hear Tori and Nani’s oral history below.
For our LHP semester finale, Tori, Nani, Dr. Sendejo and I enjoyed a day trip to UT-Austin’s Benson Latin American Collection. Dr. Sendejo arranged a fantastic introductory session with Benson archivist Christian Kelleher. Christian provided some useful tips and strategies for approaching archival research, then showcased a selection of fascinating materials from the Gloria Anzaldúa Papers housed at the Benson.
After our session with Christian, we decamped to the Reading Room to conduct independent archival research. Tori and Nani submitted folder request forms and got busy exploring the Anzaldúa Papers.
Archival research makes you hungry! We concluded our session with a well-deserved PIZZA FEAST.
Congratulations to Tori and Nani on a semester of hard work and great development on the Latina History Project. Thanks also to faculty co-Directors Dr. Sendejo and Dr. Alison Kafer. Wishing a great summer to all and looking forward to continuing our adventure in Fall 2015!