Daemen Selected for New Public Humanities Initiative

By | April 5, 2019
Aerial shot of the front of campus with the RIC in the middle

Daemen College is one of only 25 Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) member institutions selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of Humanities Research for the Public Good, an initiative designed to connect undergraduate researchers and colleges with community partners.

The new initiative will promote student research at private colleges and universities, address issues of public significance, and showcase the rich archival, library, and museum collections at participating institutions.

In announcing the initiative, CIC President Richard Ekman said, “Independent colleges are stronger when they share their resources with their community—and so too are their communities. These resources often include significant archival or library collections that can illuminate issues of real public importance. Daemen and other institutions selected for the initiative will have much to share with their communities.”

Melissa Peterson
Melissa Peterson

For the initiative, Daemen will partner on a photograph preservation and oral history project with Kiddy Skateland, a long-standing youth roller-skating facility in Buffalo’s East Side community. Decades of photos featuring customers that were previously displayed at the facility will be preserved by being digitized by library staff in Daemen’s Research and Information Commons (RIC).

“Skateland’s photo collection captures decades of area residents and special moments that will forever be remembered in these images, such as the joy of skating, spending time with family and friends, and even changes in dress and style through the years,” said Melissa Peterson, director of the RIC and library services. “When local residents reached out to the library community to preserve these images, we immediately recognized the merit of this collection and the deeply personal experiences these photos convey, which we wanted to be a part of archiving for the community.”

The Skateland images will be made available to the community through the Daemen Digital Commons, which includes digital collections and provides open access to research, scholarship, and creative works from the Daemen community.

In another component, Daemen students will conduct an oral history project as part of a fall semester course. Students will interview several of the photographed Skateland customers to draw connections between local history and life experiences. The oral histories collected will then be developed into cohesive narratives by students in a journalism course scheduled for next spring.

Once completed, Daemen will present the project to the Western New York community in cooperation with Open Buffalo and the CEPA Gallery.

CIC will host an opening workshop for initiative participants in June in Washington, D.C. Attending the workshop from Daemen will be Melissa Peterson; Dr. Meg Artman, assistant professor of English; Dr. Elizabeth Campbell, assistant professor of history; and Kristen Luppino-Gholston, director of the Paul A. Saffrin Center for Sustainability and Civic Engagement.

Workshop participants will review successful public humanities initiatives and discuss best practices in project management, working with community partners, developing humanities programs for public audiences, and project evaluation. A closing workshop next year will include students and highlight the results of funded projects.

Humanities Research for the Public Good is being generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. A second cohort of colleges and universities for the initiative will be selected in 2020.