Amy Rogers and Lynn Estomin (Lycoming College)
During the spring 2016 semester, two professors from diverse educational backgrounds, a group of freshmen from all over the United States, and 15 African American community members from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, came together to create a digital archive of stories documenting the history of the Black community of Lycoming County.
Digital storytelling is a specific process combining storytelling with modern-day technology and digital media based on participants’ own experiences and told through their own perspectives. Participants’ voices are recorded and integrated with photographs, letters, home videos, etc. The stories focus on the point of view/voice of the storyteller and value the power of story as a tool for self-discovery and reflection, community building and education, organizing and advocacy.
Through this interactive presentation, we will demonstrate how we used digital storytelling to increase knowledge and understanding of this mainly undocumented community history. The presenters will share the process used in this collaborative project. We will talk about some of the challenges presented by the project, as well as the successful outcome — the creation of digitalized stories of the life stories of members of the diverse African American community. The final stories were presented at a public screening and will be available to the public through the Lycoming County Historical Society, the Lycoming County Women’s History Collection and the Heart of Williamsport Project.
The presenters will discuss the value of a first year seminar that connects students from Lycoming College to the local community. The relationships formed between the Lycoming College students and their community members were lifelong partnerships, as shared by a student and her community partner who will share their story as part of our presentation. The first year seminar course had three main parts — creation of the student’s own digital stories, learning about the history of Lycoming County and its African American community, and the collaborative effort by students and community member teams to create a series of historical stories about the local Black community. Community members shared photographs, correspondence, diaries, scrapbooks, newspaper stories, and in some instances, rare secondary sources and students created 3-5 minute digital stories about some aspect of their partners’ lives and community.
Lynn Estomin, Professor of Art and Women’s and Gender Studies at Lycoming College, teaches graphic design, digital imaging, web design, and interactive media. Estomin is a videographer, photographer and interactive media artist who creates art that speaks to social issues. Her award-winning video documentaries have been broadcast internationally and nationally on PBS and exhibited internationally at film festivals, including Ajijic Festival Internacional de Cine Mexico, St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival in Canada, Barcelona Human Rights Film Festival, and American Film Institute (AFI) National Video Festival. Her still photography and digital images have been exhibited nationally solo and group exhibitions. Her Interactive art has won awards from The Webby Awards, Adobe Corporation, Canadian Web Awards, SXSW Interactive Festival and Golden Web Awards. Her work is part of numerous public and private collections. Estomin has received grants and fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Art Matters Inc., Cincinnati Commission on the Arts, Kodak Corporation, Ilford Corporation, Sony Corporation, SIGGRAPH, the Luce Foundation and Women’s Film Project.
Amy Rogers, a professor in the Education Department, has been teaching at Lycoming College since 2007. She earned her B.A. at Lycoming College, received her M.A. from Bloomsburg University, and earned her Ph.D. at Pennsylvania State University. Rogers studied the effects of local history in relation to a student’s level of civic mindedness and civic engagement. Her research areas include teacher leadership, pre-service teacher education, civic education, civic engagement, and place based education. Responsible for the Secondary Teacher Education Program and Teacher Certification Program, Rogers teaches courses and is an advisor to education students seeking middle and/or secondary certification, and teaches courses on digital storytelling and English Language Learning. She serves on the board of directors to the Pennsylvania Association of College and Teacher Educators (PAC-TE) and the East Lycoming School District.