Rob Sieczkiewicz, Ryan Ake, Rachel Baer, and Jess Deibert (Susquehanna University)
If history is written by the victors, what can students learn from hearing the stories of the other side? When an institution changes its identity to reflect contemporary values, how does a community preserve its discarded traditions?
In 2015, Susquehanna University’s Board of Trustees decided to replace the ‘Crusader’ mascot and nickname, which had been used since 1924. Explaining the rationale for the change, SU President Jay Lemons noted that a university mascot and nickname “should be beloved and unifying symbols,” which the Crusader was not. While some members of the SU community saw the changes as an opportunity to create a more inspiring and unifying iconography, others passionately disagreed with the decision.
Susquehanna students negotiated this divide between administration and alumni/ae through the Crusader History Harvest. This Harvest, modeled on the History Harvests of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was a one-day event, held during homecoming weekend, that invited alumni/ae to bring their Crusader memorabilia back to campus. Students digitized those objects and interviewed the alums, asking about the objects’ meaning to their owners. Presenting the digitized objects and the interviews in an open access online archive offers a glimpse of the power of digital storytelling to bridge the divide between tradition and progress.
In this presentation, Susquehanna students and librarians will address some of the issues raised by the Crusader History Harvest such as how students learn by documenting history as it is being made and how a community preserves its traditions while managing necessary change.
Ryan Ake joined Susquehanna University as Outreach & Collection Development Librarian in January 2015. He is responsible for all outreach activities of the library and oversees all print and electronic collections. His main areas of interest include ancient Mediterranean history, local & genealogical research, collection assessment, community outreach and digital humanities research. Previously, Ryan served as a Reference & Instruction Librarian at Penn State University, working in the Tombros & McWhirter Knowledge Commons. In this role, he provided information literacy instruction to first-year students and supervised all Knowledge Commons and Research Hub student employees. He earned his MLS from Clarion University and his BA in Classics & Ancient Mediterranean Studies from Penn State University.
Rob Sieczkiewicz joined Susquehanna University as Digital Scholarship Librarian in February 2015. He is responsible for working with students and faculty to use digital tools to improve teaching and scholarship. He was previously University Archivist at Drexel University where he led a multi-year oral history project. He earned an MLS from Drexel University, an MA in History from University of Massachusetts Boston, and a BA from Hampshire College.
Rachel Baer is a senior history major at Susquehanna University with museum studies, German, and Honors Program minors. She is a student assistant for two professors in the history department, which allows her to complete original research in the history of medicine. She has also had multiple internships in museum studies, including in Susquehanna University’s archives. She most recently interned in the Archives and Special Collections at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington in Mount Vernon, Virginia.
Jess Deibert is a senior English major at Susquehanna University with photography and publishing and editing minors. Currently she is an Outreach Intern and Community Engagement Officer at Susquehanna’s Blough-Weis Library. She has also had multiple internships in literary and library studies, including a position in Cape Town, South Africa and most recently in the Digital Resources department at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington in Mount Vernon, Virginia.