Screenshot from the first Zoom event. Provided by Professor Mildred López.
El día de los muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is a special international celebration practiced throughout many Spanish speaking countries. Its rituals and traditions can be traced back to both indigenous cultures and European Christian practices. As a holiday, it demonstrates the blending of these countries in Central and South America, and it is now celebrated in many countries across the world including the United States and some parts of Asia. Although it is celebrated differently in each country and culture, at its heart it is intended to be a celebration of life and a way to honor and remember loved ones who have passed.
The JKM Library was proud and excited to partner once again with Modern Languages, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Counseling Services to host Chatham’s third celebration of el día de los muertos as part of the Latinx Heritage Month celebrations. This year, to keep everyone safe, we hosted our event series virtually via Zoom. This meant lots of compromises concerning activities and programming during each event, but we were pleased to be able to bring this event series back to Chatham despite such difficult times. There were 34 total participants between both virtual events.
Screenshot from the first Zoom event. Provided by Professor Mildred López.
On Tuesday, October 27th we offered “¡Celebremos el día de los muertos!”, an educational presentation on el día de los muertos. Students from Professor Mildred López’s Spanish LNG161 and LNG261 classes led a presentation on the history and culture of the holiday. After the presentation, we watched a video, got a tour of JKM Library resources on the subject, and played a spirited game of el día de los muertos trivia.
The second event was hosted on Thursday, October 29th and featured a discussion led by Dr. Elsa Arce and Susan Kusmierski from Counseling Services on how to cope with grief, celebrate life, and honor both. Attendees shared personal losses they experienced in their lives, what those losses meant to them, how they handle their grief, and how they remember and honor those they have lost. Attendees also discussed the place that a holiday like el día de los muertos could have in the United States, and what communal grieving could offer them personally. Professor Mildred López also walked attendees through an event in Piura, Peru that helps women cope with the loss of children. The entire community comes together through a very touching and emotional ritual that asks mothers to share their children with the women who have lost theirs. This event allows individuals to heal both communally and across generations. Professor López also discussed the significance of Monarch butterflies, which are used as both a metaphor for immigration and a symbol of the souls of loved ones coming back to visit their families.
Because we were unable to offer the usual crafting projects as part of this year’s event series, templates and instructions for multiple engaging crafts were made available on the JKM Library’s resources page. Participants were encouraged to try the crafts at home. Recipes for the traditional refreshments were also made available for those who wanted to try their hand at making the pan de muerto or indigenous hot xocolatl (chocolate) themselves.
Thank you to all sponsoring departments, to Mildred López and her Spanish classes, to Dr. Elsa Arce, Susan Kusmierski, and to everyone who attended. We look forward to continuing to celebrate el día de los muertos in 2021.
Welcome to (A)bridging Community: Social Responsibility During Multiple Pandemics, a virtual art exhibition curated by Chatham University student Chenoa Baker (’21, Cultural Studies) and hosted by the Jennie King Mellon Library. Starting October 18th, 2020, carefully selected pieces of art and corresponding library resources will be posted to the JKM Library’s Instagram and Facebook feeds over the course of a week. The entire exhibition (including information on the artwork, artists, and library resources) has been gathered together here as well.
“We live in a moment that exposes our interconnections. They exist as bifurcations: an afterthought for some and constant reminders of inequalities as well as white supremacist capitalist patriarchy for others. At the intersection of two pandemics, we see that the innocent bystander is complicit, the moderate is a danger, and without bridging these connections with compassion, we sever the bridge we stand on and crumble into the water.”
Kim, Byron. Synecdoche. 1991, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
Byron Kim (b.1961) is a contemporary Korean-American artist who explores racial identity through minimalist art. Synecdoche, one of his most famous artworks, is a collection of paint swatches matched to random sitters of different races. Some view this work as a collage of people, their untold stories, and the color of their skin speaking for them. Others may see this as a variety of people who are individuals part of the whole; similarly, the squares, put together, represent the human race.
Shimoyama, Devan. February II. 2019.
Devan Shimoyama (b. 1989) is a Pittsburgh-based artist and Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Shimoyama creates renderings of glittery fantasies and anxieties around navigating Blackness and queerness. He creates images with paint, collage, and glass to communicate his message. February II, dedicated to Trayvon Martin, signifies the innocence of Black children killed by police brutality by representing them with an article of clothing—the hoodie. The hoodie masks their true identity and skews their adolescence because of the lens of white supremacy. White supremacy obscures the child inside into a perception of suspicion. (Follow on Instagram @DevanShimoyama)
Ballard, Lavett. Hear My Call. 2020.
Lavett Ballard (b.1970) is a collage artist, curator, and art historian. She primarily uses the medium of wooden fences and wood. She reclaims this wood to represent a retelling of Black history. In her work of Breonna Taylor, Hear My Call, she celebrates her life and the collective that shaped who she was. There are motifs of flowers, circles, and a butterfly to represent femininity, softness, and transition of her life. Typically, in Black tradition, death is accompanied by a celebration of life, a time to dwell in grief and deep lamentation and to remember the interconnected network of ancestors that welcomes the deceased person into the fold. (Follow on Facebook at @LavettBallardArt)
Benjamin, Gavin. Dressed to Kill no. 1 (Hoodie). 2020, Parlor Gallery, Asbury Park, NJ.
Gavin Benjamin (b.1971) is a Guyanese Pittsburgh-based artist that works in paint and a variety of appliqued materials. His most famous series is Heads of State, which depicts portraits of Black royalty in a distinct Neo-Baroque style. In Dressed to Kill, Benjamin layers images onto the subject’s hoodie and face. On the subject are images of protests, George Floyd’s phrase during the time of his death “I can’t breathe,” and Skittles and Arizona drinks that Trayvon Martin and others picked up from a corner store before their deaths. All of these markers on the body and provocative title, stresses that victims of police brutality are dressed in a multilayered story ignored during their murder. (Follow on Instagram @gavinbenjamin)
Leff, Rosa. The Real Pandemic. 2020, private collection.
Rosa Leff is an artist and educator that is known for her paper cutting prowess. She cuts elaborate cityscapes by hand and by X-Acto knife. The Real Pandemic is an accumulation of already present pathologies—systemic racism, a failing healthcare system, and broken economic infrastructure. Through the pandemic, it shows that we lost some of our main tenants of community. While we revisit this concept, police are central to the narrative of state power that was never created for the community and only disrupts it more by metaphorically tearing down bridges and literally ripping apart families. (Follow on Instagram @rosaleff)
Click on the images below to view enlarged versions.
Hear My Call
Dressed to Kill no. 1 (Hoodies)
Dressed to Kill no. 2 (Hoodies)
Dressed to Kill no. 3 (Hoodies)
Dressed to Kill no. 4 (Hoodies)
The Real Pandemic
Art can be described as the culmination of cultural, social, and historical context into statements, stories, and expression of creativity. Knowing that context can dramatically change the reading of a piece, but it is not always necessary to appreciate the work. At the Jennie King Mellon Library, we do believe that discovering and understanding the context behind a piece of information (such as a work of art) is critical to full understanding. We try to communicate that importance through our work as library and information professional. To that end, here is a list of resources that we feel can help aid in building your personal understanding of the context behind these pieces.
Issues & Controversies is a wonderful tool for both academic and personal use. Focusing on controversial topics such as systemic racism, Issues & Controversies gathers pro-con articles, primary source material, news publications, various media content, court cases, editorials, etc. to help offer a well-rounded view of difficult topics we see on the news and in life. It is an excellent tool for helping build context and understanding around some of the most hot-button topics of the day.
Adam Matthew Collection
The Adam Matthew Collection contains multiple relevant collections of primary source materials that touch on America’s history with white supremacy, Civil Rights, enslavement, and race relations. These materials are important when becoming familiar with our own history, especially when looking at the role community plays. Documents, newspapers, images, illustrations from the time, artifacts, and more all ground researchers in the correct historical context.
African American Communities: Focusing predominantly on Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and towns and cities in North Carolina this resource presents multiple aspects of the African American community through pamphlets, newspapers and periodicals, correspondence, official records, reports, and in-depth oral histories, revealing the prevalent challenges of racism, discrimination and integration, and a unique African American culture and identity.
Race Relations in America: Documenting three pivotal decades in the fight for civil rights, this resource showcases the speeches, reports, surveys, and analyses produced by the Department’s staff and Institute participants, including Charles S. Johnson, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Thurgood Marshall.
Slavery, Abolition & Social Justice:This resource is designed as an important portal for slavery and abolition studies, bringing together documents and collections covering an extensive time period, between 1490 and 2007, from libraries and archives across the Atlantic world. Close attention is given to the varieties of slavery, the legacy of slavery, the social justice perspective, and the continued existence of slavery today.
DO NOT RESIST is an urgent and powerful exploration of the rapid militarization of the police in the United States. Starting on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, as the community grapples with the death of Michael Brown, DO NOT RESIST – the directorial debut of DETROPIA cinematographer Craig Atkinson – offers a stunning look at the current state of policing in America and a glimpse into the future.
Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Anthony Mackie, Issa Rae, Algee Smith, K.J. Apa, Common. Starr Carter navigates the perilous waters between her poor, black neighborhood and her prestigious, mainly white private school. This all changes when she finds herself in the middle of racial activism after her best friend is shot by police officers, and she’s forced to make a decision. Allow the media to skewer her friend to protect the status quo, or stand up and tell the truth in memory of Khalil?
In order to protect the health and safety of our JKM Library patrons, we have instituted a reservation system for all library seats in the building. This includes our group and individual study rooms, as well as study tables, study carrel desks, comfortable seating, and computer lab seating.
Starting Monday, September 14, all patrons entering the JKM Library building will need to have a reservation in addition to presenting their Chatham IDs and temperature screening cards. Spaces should be reserved in advance of entering the library via this link: https://chathamlibrary.libcal.com/reserve/. Use the dropdown menus at the top of the screen to select different library spaces.
Additional protocols and requirements are in place as well:
Padding has been added to each reservation to allow for air circulation before use by the next patron. Patrons must leave their space promptly at the end of the reservation to allow for that padding to work.
Patrons are restricted to 3 hours of reservation time in the library building per day, which can be split into two separate reservations.
Reservations may be made up to 28 days in advance.
Patrons are expected to wipe down their reserved areas after use. Wipe dispensers have been installed on all four floors of the library (near the elevators plus extra ones in the labs and classrooms).
Please do not move furniture, including chairs. It has been arranged for appropriate social distancing.
Masks must always be worn in the library building unless alone in a group or individual study with the door closed.
No food is allowed in the library building. Drinks with lids are permitted.
Meetings with OAAR or Career Development do not require reservations through the library’s system, but if you would like to remain in the library after a meeting, you will need one.
Library staff is monitoring adherence to campus health & safety protocols, providing friendly reminders, and following appropriate reporting procedures as necessary.
If you have any questions or need guidance while you learn the new reservation system, please contact the library or a librarian. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we make every effort to keep the library as safe as possible for you!
The passing of civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis on July 17, 2020 draws thoughts to the unparalleled impact he has had on this nation and to the brief moments he shared with the Chatham community during his visit to campus in 1964. At the time, Lewis was the National Chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). His visit to campus was a student-initiated event, arranged by the Student Peace Union (SPU), a group organized in 1961-62 and led by Chatham student and activist Linda Watts.
John Lewis at meeting of American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1964.
John Lewis’ visit was the climax of an SPU lecture series, which also included talks with President of the Pennsylvania NAACP Henry Smith, Chairman of the Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee Frank Wilkinson, and member of The Freedom Singers Charles “Chico” Neblett. A Guest Editorial in the student newspaper promoted Lewis’ visit as being “a landmark in the 1963-64 calendar at Chatham.”
During his stay in Pittsburgh, Lewis also spoke at Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, the annual Americans for Democratic Action dinner, the Tri-State Conference of Hillel, and the Central Baptist Church. According to local newspapers, Lewis’s visit aimed to recruit volunteers to increase voter registration among Black members of the Mississippi community.
Student newspaper article printed in advance of John Lewis’ campus visit.
In anticipation of Lewis’ visit to campus, the student newspaper printed excerpts from a speech he delivered at the 1963 March on Washington. These excerpts reflect Lewis’ views on impact of police brutality, voter suppression, and the need for sustained activism. The full article can be viewed in the February 29, 2964 issue of the student newspaper accessible here.
Though the collections of the Chatham Archives do not contain photographs of John Lewis on campus, the student newspaper includes articles that describe the event and also offer analysis of the campus climate. One article, titled “`Time for Waiting is Past,’ Says John Lewis from SNCC” recounts the main tenets of his speech, which included acknowledgement of the work of college students and a rebuttal to anti-communist critics of the civil rights movement. The full article can be viewed here.
Student newspaper article describing John Lews’ speech on Chatham campus.
Another article in this issue raises a few questions about the reception Lewis received on campus. In a column titled “Thru the Keyhole,” student Diane Brutout reports that there were some “[r]umblings around campus” that were “critical of SPU’s [Student Peace Union] all-out publicity campaign for Lewis.” According to Brutout’s reporting, some students complained that the multitude of posters promoting Lewis’ lecture “implied a false consensus among Chatham Students about SNCC.” The full article can be accessed here.
Column in the March 6, 1964 issue of The Arrow.
Brutout, later a Chatham Trustee whose lifelong dedication to civil rights included focused work supporting women in the workplace, described the work of Lewis and SNCC as restoring law in the American South by encouraging voter registration. She quoted Lewis’ speech, “Last week 500 people stood in line all day long in one Mississippi county in order to register. In that period of time, seven people were given the test.” The test Lewis refers to is the voter application and literacy tests that were used to deny Blacks the right to vote prior to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. An example Mississippi voter application is shown below.
Directing her comments at those students who were dissatisfied with Lewis’ visit, Brutout writes, “When only 20,000 out of a potential 400,000 Negros can vote in Mississippi, it is time to press for a revitalization of the earlier mentioned consensus.” In closing, Brutout sharply chides her classmates by stating, “The most many Chatham students have done is to open a forum for the articulation of valid grievances.”
We don’t have an opinion piece in the student newspaper to explain the “rumblings” any further, so we don’t know (from the newspaper at least) why there was disagreement. Could it have been because Lewis was considered to be a radical member of the civil rights movement and some Chatham students preferred a more moderate approach? Could the rumblings have resulted from an absence of enthusiasm for the civil rights movement? Something entirely different? What resources could one use to get a fuller picture of the climate and what might one discover about the history of the civil rights movement on college campus through that research?
In looking at the climate on Chatham’s campus in the mid-sixties and student engagement in the civil rights movement, we can note the work of Linda Watts, chair of the Student Peace Union. During the summer prior to Lewis’ visit to campus, Watts worked on behalf of SNCC in the Fayette County, Tennessee voter registration drive. In 1965, Linda Watts and classmate Susan Schnapf `67 traveled to Selma, Alabama to participate in the marches across the Edmond Pettis Bridge on Tuesday, March 9, 1965. Read Watts and Schnapf’s first-hand accounts of the marchhere. Watts served as the contact for the Pittsburgh chapter of the Friends of SNCC and remained active the Pittsburgh social justice movement, protesting race discrimination by craft unions.
John Lewis’ speech at Chatham in 1964 and the vigorous activism he inspired among Chatham students serve as single point in a monumental career that is without parallel. Please explore the links provided below for resources and archival collections that more fully document the impact John Lewis has made on the country and history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.
Did you know that archival collections could be used for more than just historical research, or even that learning about the history of a place through their archives could be fun? At the Chatham University Archives & Special Collections, we know that sometimes learning about and celebrating history is made better by doing so in a non-traditional fashion. So, in order to facilitate that, we’ve created an entire guide full of all the fun things we could think of to celebrate Chatham history!
The guide itself, at present, contains virtual puzzles, coloring sheet downloads, Zoom meeting backgrounds, and BuzzFeed quizzes, and we’re adding new things all the time. All of the materials on the guide feature either photos from our collections, or information that we learned by looking at the primary sources in our collections. Links are provided to where those collections are housed virtually whenever possible. You can access the guide itself here.
We hope you enjoy exploring and playing on the guide. If you have any questions, or even a suggestion for something to add to the guide, feel free to contact the archives using contact info on the Archives home page.
Many organizations and institutions have been offering incredible antiracist reading lists, packed with critically acclaimed fiction and nonfiction that add to our individual education on systemic and institutional racism in the United States and around the world. You should consult these lists and make your own TBR (to be read) pile of antiracist titles. It is a personal, moral, and civic duty that we commit to learning about the history, hardships, and experiences of our fellow Americans. It is also our duty to confront white supremacy on personal, local, and systemic levels. These reading lists can be an excellent start to that work. Armed with new knowledge and understanding, we can be better equipped to help push for lasting change in this country and around the world. Knowledge truly is power.
Below is a list of eBook titles that can be accessed freely by Chatham University students, faculty, and staff. Some are antiracist staples, some are more specifically focused on education, and some can help you take the next step in turning your knowledge into productive action for the collective good. Images are from Goodreads. Descriptions are from the publishers and/or Goodreads. Follow the linked titles to check out the eBook today.
“This collection of essays by scholar-activist W. E. B. Du Bois is a masterpiece in the African American canon. Du Bois, arguably the most influential African American leader of the early twentieth century, offers insightful commentary on Black history, racism, and the struggles of Black Americans following emancipation. In his groundbreaking work, the author presciently writes that ‘the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line,’ and offers powerful arguments for the absolute necessity of moral, social, political, and economic equality. These essays on the Black experience in America range from sociological studies of the African American community to illuminating discourses on religion and ‘Negro music,’ and remain essential reading. A new introduction by Jonathan Holloway explores Du Bois’s signature accomplishments while helping readers to better understand his writings in the context of his time as well as ours.”
“Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as ‘brave and bold,’ this book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that ‘we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.’ By targeting Black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a ‘call to action.’ Called ‘stunning’ by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Levering Lewis, ‘invaluable’ by the Daily Kos, ‘explosive’ by Kirkus, and ‘profoundly necessary’ by the Miami Herald, this updated and revised paperback edition of The New Jim Crow, now with a foreword by Cornel West, is a must-read for all people of conscience.”
“In spite of the double burden of racial and gender discrimination, African-American women have developed a rich intellectual tradition that is not widely known. In Black Feminist Thought, Patricia Hill Collins explores the words and ideas of Black feminist intellectuals as well as those African-American women outside academe. She provides an interpretive framework for the work of such prominent Black feminist thinkers as Angela Davis, bell hooks, Alice Walker, and Audre Lorde. The result is a superbly crafted book that provides the first synthetic overview of Black feminist thought.”
“Though the end of the Civil War brought legal emancipation to Blacks, it is a fact of history that their social oppression continued long after. The most virulent form of this ongoing persecution was the practice of lynching carried out by mob rule, often as local law enforcement officials looked the other way. During the 1880s and 1890s, more than 100 African Americans per year were lynched, and in 1892 alone the toll of murdered men and women reached a peak of 161.
In that awful year, the 23-year-old Ida B. Wells, the editor of a small newspaper for Blacks in Memphis, Tennessee, raised one lone voice of protest. In her paper, she charged that white businessmen had instigated three local lynchings against their black competitors. In retaliation for her outspoken courage, a goon-squad of angry whites destroyed her editorial office and print shop, and she was forced to flee the South and move to New York City. So began a crusade against lynching which became the focus of her long, active, and very courageous life. In New York, she began lecturing against the abhorrent vigilante practice and published her first pamphlet on the subject called ‘Southern Horrors.’ After moving to Chicago and marrying lawyer Ferdinand Barnett, she continued her campaign, publishing ‘A Red Record’ in 1895 and ‘Mob Rule in New Orleans,’ about the race riots in that city, in 1900. All three of these documents are collected in On Lynchings, a shocking testament to cruelty and the dark American legacy of racial prejudice.”
“A new edition of one of the most influential literary documents in American and African American history. Ideal for coursework in American and African American history, this revised edition of Frederick Douglass’s memoir of his life as a slave in pre-Civil War Maryland incorporates a wide range of supplemental materials to enhance students’ understanding of slavery, abolitionism, and the role of race in American society. Offering readers a new appreciation of Douglass’s world, it includes documents relating to the slave narrative genre and to the later career of an essential figure in the nineteenth-century abolition movement.”
“By the late 1960s and early 1970s, reeling from a wave of urban uprisings, politicians finally worked to end the practice of redlining. Reasoning that the turbulence could be calmed by turning Black city-dwellers into homeowners, they passed the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, and set about establishing policies to induce mortgage lenders and the real estate industry to treat Black homebuyers equally. The disaster that ensued revealed that racist exclusion had not been eradicated, but rather transmuted into a new phenomenon of predatory inclusion. Race for Profit uncovers how exploitative real estate practices continued well after housing discrimination was banned. The same racist structures and individuals remained intact after redlining’s end, and close relationships between regulators and the industry created incentives to ignore improprieties. Meanwhile, new policies meant to encourage low-income homeownership created new methods to exploit Black homeowners. The federal government guaranteed urban mortgages in an attempt to overcome resistance to lending to Black buyers – as if unprofitability, rather than racism, was the cause of housing segregation. Bankers, investors, and real estate agents took advantage of the perverse incentives, targeting the Black women most likely to fail to keep up their home payments and slip into foreclosure, multiplying their profits. As a result, by the end of the 1970s, the nation’s first programs to encourage Black homeownership ended with tens of thousands of foreclosures in Black communities across the country. The push to uplift Black homeownership had descended into a goldmine for realtors and mortgage lenders, and a ready-made cudgel for the champions of deregulation to wield against government intervention of any kind. Narrating the story of a sea-change in housing policy and its dire impact on African Americans, Race for Profit reveals how the urban core was transformed into a new frontier of cynical extraction.”
“Black and Blue is the first systematic description of how American doctors think about racial differences and how this kind of thinking affects the treatment of their black patients. The standard studies of medical racism examine past medical abuses of Black people and do not address the racially motivated thinking and behaviors of physicians practicing medicine today. Black and Blue penetrates the physician’s private sphere where racial fantasies and misinformation distort diagnoses and treatments. Doctors have always absorbed the racial stereotypes and folkloric beliefs about racial differences that permeate the general population. Within the world of medicine this racial folklore has infiltrated all of the medical sub-disciplines, from cardiology to gynecology to psychiatry. Doctors have thus imposed White or Black racial identities upon every organ system of the human body, along with racial interpretations of Black children, the Black elderly, the Black athlete, Black musicality, Black pain thresholds, and other aspects of Black minds and bodies. The American medical establishment does not readily absorb either historical or current information about medical racism. For this reason, racial enlightenment will not reach medical schools until the current race-aversive curricula include new historical and sociological perspectives.”
“A compendium of writings that detail the grassroots actions of social and political activists from the civil rights era of the early 1960s to the present day, this book reviews the major points of intersection between white supremacy and the war machine through historic and contemporary articles from a diverse range of scholars and activists. Among the historic texts included are rarely seen writings by antiracist icons such as Anne Braden, Barbara Deming, and Audre Lorde as well as a dialogue between Dr. King, revolutionary nationalist Robert F. Williams, Dave Dellinger, and Dorothy Day. Never-before-published pieces appear from civil rights and gay rights organizer Bayard Rustin and from celebrated U.S. pacifist supporter of Puerto Rican sovereignty Ruth Reynolds. Additional articles, essays, interviews, and poems from numerous contributors examine the strategic and tactical possibilities of radical transformation for lasting social change through revolutionary nonviolence.”
“Since the passing of Brown versus Board of Education to the election of the first Black president of the United States, there has been much discussion on how far we have come as a nation on issues of race. Some continue to assert that Barack Obama’s election ushered in a new era—making the US a post-racial society. But this argument is either a political contrivance, borne of ignorance or a bold-faced lie. There is no recent data on school inequities, or inequity in society for that matter, that suggests we have arrived at Dr. King’s dream that his ‘four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’ Children today are instead still judged by the color of their skin, and this inequitable practice is manifest in today’s schools for students of color in the form of disproportionate student discipline referrals, achievement and opportunity gaps, pushout rates, overrepresentation in special education and underrepresentation in advanced coursework, among other indicators (Brooks, 2012). Though issues of race in the public education system may take an overt or covert form; racial injustice in public schools is still pervasive, complex, and cumulative. The authors in this book explore various ways that racism is manifest in the American school system. Through a plurality of perspectives, they deconstruct, challenge, and reconstruct an educational leadership committed to equity and excellence for marginalized students and educators.”
“Organized into four sections, this collection of essays is geared toward activists engaging with the dynamic questions of how to create and support effective movements for visionary systemic change. These essays and interviews present powerful lessons for transformative organizing. It offers a firsthand look at the challenges and the opportunities of antiracist work in white communities, feminist work with men, and bringing women of color feminism into the heart of social movements. Drawing on two decades of personal activist experience and case studies within these areas, Crass’s essays insightfully explore ways of transforming divisions of race, class, and gender into catalysts for powerful vision, strategy, and building movements in the United States today. This collection will inspire and empower anyone who is interested in implementing change through organizing.”
“The pioneering Asian American labor organizer and writer’s vision for intersectional and anti-racist activism. In this powerful, deeply humanistic book, Grace Lee Boggs, a legendary figure in the struggle for justice in America, shrewdly assesses the current crisis—political, economical, and environmental—and shows how to create the radical social change we need to confront new realities. A vibrant, inspirational force, Boggs has participated in all of the twentieth century’s major social movements—for civil rights, women’s rights, workers’rights, and more. She draws from seven decades of activist experience, and a rigorous commitment to critical thinking, to redefine “revolution” for our times. From her home in Detroit, she reveals how hope and creativity are overcoming despair and decay within the most devastated urban communities. Her book is a manifesto for creating alternative modes of work, politics, and human interaction that will collectively constitute the next American Revolution—which is unraveling before our eyes.”
We hope you find this eBook reading list helpful as you begin or continue your antiracist work. You can follow the JKM Library’s Instagram account (@jkmlibrary) for more book recommendations on various topics. And you can recommend a specific book to be added to the JKM Library’s collection by emailing Reference@Chatham.edu or reaching out to a specific librarian.
The JKM Library has a new database worth checking out! Academic Video Online (AVON) is a premier database that holds over 68,000 videos spanning a variety of disciplines and subjects. Whether you’re in the mood for a documentary, news, feature films, or interviews, AVON has access across the board. Explore videos of different genres, lengths, and age, and expand your horizons; search for the exact title you’re looking for, or just peruse the homepage! The database’s wide variety provides a well-rounded collection of both educational and entertaining resources, and Chatham users can see it all! Here’s a few titles that both highlight the diversity of AVON and can lift your spirits!
Bernstein’s operatic adaptation of Voltaire novella comes to life in the 2004 production with the New York Philharmonic, featuring the musical stylings of theatre giants like Kristin Chenoweth and Patti LuPone. The show tells the story of the eponymous protagonist as he traverses through adulthood meeting bizarre new people and learning important life lessons. Candide boasts an impressive score full of bright, exuberant numbers and an overall feeling of comedy and joy throughout. Viewers can expect to laugh their way all the way through this musical adventure. A true testament to the quality of AVON’s performing arts selection, Candide is fun for everyone.
Here’s one raucous comedy evokes the feeling of the ’80s road trip movies, but turns the trope on its head with its elderly protagonist. This feature film follows former brothers-in-law Mitch and Colin as they attempt to relive their youth while taking a trip through Iceland. This indie darling is simple and character-driven, and while it has the occasional heavy moment, the majority of Land Ho! is chock full of quirk and witty humor. Coupled with the beautiful scenery of Reykjavik, this movie is a short and sweet romp that prioritizes mischief, friendship, and the idea that we all need someone to be there for us every now and then.
In this documentary, the life of acclaimed yogi Paramahansa Yogananda serves as the subject. His story of enlightenment and self-discovery is juxtaposed against his personal struggles growing up, and paints an incredible picture of his journey. Often credited as bringing yoga to the west via his memoir Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda’s grounded view of life and practice of self-realization helped to propel yoga into the mainstream. This documentary would be a great fit both for those who want to further inform their practice of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness as well as those brand new to the topic and wanting to learn more.
Part science, part history, all educational, this documentary explores the roots of one of oldest forms of food preservation, perfect for the sustainability-savvy viewer. Learn all about the different ways that fermentation can occur, from pickling to making alcohol, and their importance to the world of food! Host Edward Lee is incredibly passionate about exploring this food practice, and his enthusiasm could very well extend to the viewer. Considering the growing popularity of food studies and sustainable food practice, this film would serve as a great supplement to learning about current food trends–canning and pickling may make a quarantine comeback!
Nothing says “feel-good” quite like Mister Rogers. 2019 gave us two great movies, Won’t You Be My Neighbor and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, but this earlier documentary pays homage directly to Mister Rogers’ television legacy. Highlighting some of the show’s most memorable clips and performances, and featuring interviews with celebrities on how Mister Rogers shaped their lives, It’s You I Like gives an inside glimpse of the importance of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in its 900 episode run. You’re guaranteed to finish this documentary with a smile on your face, and an even greater understanding of the importance of this hometown hero on children’s television.
These are just a few of the thousands of titles available through AVON. Whether you’re interested in a three-minute mindfulness video, a fashion show, or a virtual trip to the orchestra, AVON has something for everyone. Watch with your significant other, your kids, or with friends, maybe host a Zoom watch party–regardless of what you choose, the possibilities seem endless! Access the database here, and remember to also check out our other available library resources during our closure. Happy watching!
Carina Stopenski is the Access Services Associate at Chatham University’s Jennie King Mellon Library. They started out as a student worker while getting their creative writing degree at Chatham, and have since started working on their Master’s of Library Science at Clarion University. They enjoy games of both the board and video persuasion, vegan baking, and reading graphic novels.
During this difficult period of shelter-in-place, one can sometimes feel trapped by the ennui of their everyday life. As we all acclimate to our new “normal,” things may feel stale or boring, and it can be hard to keep positive. Have no fear–fiction can provide a welcome escape from the real world turmoil we face! Take a gander at this list to find some titles either available freely online or via our eBook collection that can help you find a bit of respite during this trying time!
This collection of short stories takes some of the most well-known fairy tales and turns them on their heads, exploring new, modern structures and complex, unexpected takes. Yolen even gives notes at the end of the book on how she decided to construct each tale, giving the worlds an even richer history. These stories provide a perfect escape from the real world, and despite being an adult-oriented book, evokes a sense of childlike wonder due to its roots in familiar stories. I highly recommend “The Undine,” a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” and “The Foxwife,” which delves into the folklore of the Japanese kitsune. While some stories in this book may be a bit dark, the nostalgic ties that readers have to fairy tales may just provide a bit of escapism from the comfort of your own couch!
This coming-of-age adventure centers around friends Cady and Cooper as they try to burn through their high-school “bucket list” two days before their high school graduation. The story is sweet, adventurous, and full of teenage shenanigans, and provides a great way to get away from the stress of everyday adult life. Kerick captures the adolescent experience well, and the light, fast-paced story is coupled with a really wonderful message about the significance of good relationships. Even though the reader may be stuck at home unable to see friends right now, watching Cooper and Cady engage in these wacky adventures may just fill that space that’s been a little empty.
I personally believe that everyone should read Walden’s graphic novels, not only because of their rich stories but their incredible illustrations. This story takes place in outer space, where protagonist Mia works on a team restoring decrepit intergalactic monuments. It’s a poignant, beautiful story, full of love, family, and self-discovery, but what is most striking is its gorgeous artwork. Through detailed spacecrafts, swirling galaxies, and flashback scenes of a prestigious academy, Walden transports the reader through to a brand new universe that is so unlike our own but still full of humanity. Plus, the whole book is available in an online serialized format for easy access!
This historical fiction piece is jam-packed with action and is bound to transport you to 10th-century medieval Iberia! The titular main character encounters everything from monasteries to war to escaping enslavement–talk about a wild ride! While some turn their nose up at historical fiction, the adventure that this story brings to the table is definitely enough to bring you out of your doldrums and allow the reader to explore an incredibly complicated world that may they may never have had experience with before! While the author expresses that the characters are purely fictional, the writing truly makes these characters feel real!
From the creator of the popular Lumberjanes series, this young adult graphic novel focused around the eponymous Nimona, a teen shapeshifter who works with a supervillain in order to showcase a “good guy” as a fraud. Part witty comedy, part fantasy adventure, and part emotional journey about how everything is not as it seems, Nimona has a bit of something for everybody! Stevenson builds a diverse world that diverts the typical fantasy tropes by creating sympathetic characters in typically “evil” stereotypes. Published online in a webcomic format, it makes for easy reading, and Stevenson’s distinctive art style adds fun and flair to an already-interesting storyline!
These are just a few interesting titles worth exploring. Remember that the library has a list of COVID-19 digital resources that features thousands of eBooks worth exploring! Also consider checking out the Internet Archive–by making an account, you can get free access to thousands more titles through digital checkout. Hope everyone gets some good reading in during this troubling time, sometimes a little literary escapism can go a long way!
Carina Stopenski is the Access Services Associate at Chatham University’s Jennie King Mellon Library. They started out as a student worker while getting their creative writing degree at Chatham, and have since started working on their Master’s of Library Science at Clarion University. They enjoy games of both the board and video persuasion, vegan baking, and reading graphic novels.
Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the WHO on March 11th, 2020, life in America has changed significantly. The impact has been felt locally in many ways, with many people working from home and practicing social distancing. In this environment, the online access provided through the Chatham University Archives becomes an even greater research tool.
The Chatham University Archives has many collections—including many publications created by the university—available to the public on the Web (library.chatham.edu/archives or click here) and we’re happy to share some guidance on searching these materials.
What Do We Have? An Overview:
This screenshot shows where you can access the collections on the Archives page – the particular collections I will highlight below are circled in red.
This collection contains documentation of commencement exercises held at Chatham University between 1870 and the present, including both undergraduate and graduate degree conferral ceremonies (Access the collection here)
Chatham College: The First Ninety Years
A book published in 1960 by Chatham history professor and historian Laberta Dysart, detailing Chatham’s history until that point. (Access the collection here)
This collection contains scanned images of Chatham’s yearbooks from 1915-2010 – a great source of information for campus life and events, as well as information about former Chatham students. (Access the collection here)
Scanned images and digital archives of course catalogs from 1870-2019 – this would be great for anyone interested in what courses Chatham offered historically. (Access the collections by clicking on the date range you’re looking for: 1870-1991, 2006-2014, 2016-2019)
Alumnae Directories (select volumes)
Contact information for Chatham alumnae – a great resource if you’re wanting to find out if someone went to Chatham, but better for genealogical research because the most recent one available online is from 1956. (Access the collection here)
Alumnae newsletters sent out to Chatham alumnae, detailing news from classmates and other pertinent information for Chatham alumnae to know. (Access the collection here)
Selected volumes of the handbooks given to students at the start of every school year, detailing rules and regulations. Some of them even have interesting tidbits of Chatham history and folklore, like ghost stories! (Access the collection here)
Student newspapers dating as far back as the late 1800s. These are a fantastic source of information for not only what was going on at Chatham at the time, but on occasion the greater Pittsburgh area and the world. The newspapers also contain advertisements from local Pittsburgh businesses, enabling a researcher to learn about some historic Pittsburgh businesses. (Access the collection by clicking on the date range you’re looking for: 1895-1903, 1903-1921, 1921-1923, 1923-1934, 1934-1939, 1939-1948, 1949-2018)
Earlier in Chatham’s history, back when it was Pennsylvania Female College and Pennsylvania College for Women, there was a school called Dilworth Hall that was considered a feeder school for the college. The Dilworthian is their quarterly publication, like a student newspaper, written by their students (who could be considered high school students). (Access the collection here)
How can I access these materials?
All these materials are either held on one of two online platforms, the Internet Archive or Artstor. Coming very soon, we will have video tutorials giving a more detailed overview of how to use each of these. For now, though, here is a helpful tip to get started.
Materials on the Internet Archive are keyword searchable using the search box that has a black background and says “Search inside.” Using the search box with a white background will search all the items in the Internet Archive, rather than the yearbook, course catalog, or student newspaper you selected.
It is also important to think about the terms or keywords to enter into the search box. A good rule of thumb for the search bar is the mantra “less is more.” For example, rather than searching “sledding on campus,” try “sledding” or “sled.” Keep in mind that search results will be drawn from the text in the volume, not the pictures. So, a picture of students sledding on campus will only be returned from a search for “sled” if there is a caption (or other text) that has the word “sled.”
For searching names, the simplicity principle also applies. Try searching an individual’s last name, rather than the first and last names together. This way, the search returns will show listings for “Jane Smith” as well as for “Smith, Jane.” Also, if you’re looking up a name, make sure you have the correct spelling – the search function shows no mercy for spelling errors!
The above image shows what happens when search results appear. You’ll see the search term that was used in the green circle. The blue arrows (one of which is circled in yellow) show where that term appears in the document. If you hover your cursor over a blue arrow, a box like the one circled in orange will appear – it gives you a slight preview of how the search term is used on that page. When you click on a blue arrow and arrive on the specified page, the search term will also be highlighted in purple – areas where this is present in the image are also highlighted with orange circles.
We hope that this resource overview will help you as you continue to conduct research using the primary source documents. We’re developing a video series to provide additional guidance on using archival resources in remote research. Check out the first in the series below and check out our Youtube channel for all the latest.
If you have any questions, feel free to use the chat box on the library’s home page to speak to the reference librarian on duty or contact Archivist and Public Services Librarian Molly Tighe directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the midst of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Chatham community are responding to the current threat and are comforted by an understanding that our current situation is temporary. This broad perspective is supported by the history of public health emergencies and the realization that this is not the first time that Chatham has responded to a global influenza pandemic through proactive distancing measures. Similar closures occurred in the fall of 1918.
Illustration of Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham U) campus around 1918-1920
The 1918 influenza pandemic, the most severe pandemic in modern history, reached into all corners of the world. Over 17 million people worldwide and 675,000 in the United States lost their lives due to the virus and one third of the world’s population become infected. Pittsburgh, where widespread economic disparity had many workers living in crowded boarding houses, was one of the hardest hit cities in the country with a mortality rate twice the national average during the worst days of the pandemic.
PCW (now Chatham U) President John C. Acheson
On October 4, 1918, PA State Commissioner of Health Dr. B. F. Boyer ordered that every place of public amusement (poolrooms, dance halls, theaters, saloons) be closed and a city-wide quarantine for Pittsburgh was announced the next day. Reports from across the country appeared in the local papers detailing the closings of colleges and Universities, sporting and entertainment event cancellations, and a rapid increase in the number of influenza victims in much the same manner as we’ve seen in recent weeks. The Pennsylvania College for Women (PCW, now Chatham University) suspended classes amid this environment of rapid infection spread.
Despite the impact the 1918 pandemic had on the city population, campus publications from the time spare little space for discussion of the school’s closing or the epidemic itself. College President Acheson, in reporting to the Alumnae Association in the Alumnae Recorder May 1919 issue, simply states “Early in the session we were compelled to close the college for one month on account of the influenza epidemic” before providing an overview of enrollment, plans for campus expansion, and the 50th anniversary celebration planned for 1920. The Alumnae Association, in their report, mentions that their regular fall meeting was held in November instead of October and that “the postponement being due to the influenza epidemic and the consequent prohibition of public meetings.” Sue Riddle Paine, member of the class of 1894, is mentioned for her time spent “nursing in the slums during the influenza epidemic.” The first post-pandemic issue of the Alumnae Recorder is otherwise filled with updates about alumnae activities including employment, war work, and family along with discussion of the anniversary celebration and student clubs.
Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham University) Class of 1919
Student publications of the era, such as the student newspaper and yearbook, similarly include little mention of the pandemic. Where it is mentioned, the tone is markedly different from discussions about the COVID-19 pandemic occurring today. For example, the Fall 1918 Sorosis student newspaper includes an editorial titled “Vacation” that describes one student’s dismay at being required to continue her studies while the school was closed. She writes,
Usually vacations are times of great rejoicing looked forward to for weeks ahead, and planned for with all the ingenuity possible. And so, the surprising announcement which came so unexpectedly, so entirely without warning on that Tuesday morning, “College closes today for an indefinite period” was greeted with great enthusiasm by many. The aforementioned enthusiasm received a chill, however, when the enthusiasts went to classes and heard such heartless assignments as “Finish first book in Economics” or, in International Law, “Prepare next six chapters and know important international conferences up to date.” In other words, “Keep studying and you’ll not have time to entertain influenza germs.
The piece continues with a discussion about how all students should maintain their focus on coursework so that planned Christmas and Easter vacations will not be cancelled. The 1919 yearbook’s “Senior Class History” includes the remark that “The first semester was broken up by the enforced flu vacation, so things had to be done in double-quick time.” Again here, the author refers to the closure of the school to combat the spread of the virus as a “vacation.”
“Influenza Song” printed in 1919 & 1920 yearbook
Historians contend that we must consider records and primary sources within the context of their creation and, from that context, to gather a broader sense of the perspective being presented. Considered within the context of the public health disaster of the 1918 pandemic, what can be learned from the statements of the PCW president, alumnae, and students? Does the treatment of the pandemic in these printed sources indicate carelessness or disregard in the face of so many deaths? Or, could other events have shaded the statements we see in these sources?
Consider the calendar printed in the 1919 yearbook shown below. The influenza pandemic is mentioned alongside a variety of activities relating to World War I.
Calendar printed in 1919 & 1920 Yearbook
These and other records in the University Archives describe the Social Work program at Chatham, which was the first of its kind in the country. How might the war work and the emphasis on social work explain the minimal discussion of the influenza?
Examining primary sources can raise lots of questions and can inspire avenues of research that span across repositories, document types, and record formats. In continuing to explore the local impact of the 1918 influenza pandemic, what other sources could be helpful? How might one explore the differences between the 1918 pandemic and the 2020 pandemic on campus and in the region? What other questions might come up in the process?
Curious for more? Here are a few links the include discussion of the 1918 pandemic:
Pennsylvania College for Women 1919 & 1920 yearbook (click here)