May 2021 Archives

May 24, 2021

On March 10, 2020, Yale president Peter Salovey announced classes would be moved online and students would not be returning to campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing that this was a watershed moment, Yale University Library staff quickly began planning how to document the impact of the pandemic on the Yale community.

In early April, the University Archives distributed an anonymous online survey to Yale College students. More than 200 responses provided a frank, unfiltered look at how students were coping with the crisis, the impact on their studies, and their feelings about the future.

One student described studying from home as a “juggling act” as she cared for her siblings and grandparents, while her parents were out at work. “While I have found a certain comfort in being surrounded by loved ones during quarantine, COVID-19 has ripped away any sense of normalcy,” she wrote. “My last semester of my first year at Yale was supposed to be full of memories with my friends, and events like spring fling.”

Another student expressed increased appreciation for the people in their life. “Without my family, friends, and others, my life isn't what I actually think it is,” the student wrote. “I have realized how much I treasure these people.”

Spending more time outdoors and greater appreciation for resources were other positive outcomes highlighted by students.

Inspired by the survey’s success, the University Archives launched the Help Us Make History project in in May. With assistance from the library’s Digital Humanities Laboratory, a website was developed where students could upload responses to a series of online prompts. The first prompt, “Share a picture of your study space” elicited 66 photographs of students’ remote learning spaces. Other prompts asked students to comment on distance learning, virtual social activities, and other personal and academic experiences.

In November 2020,  the library invited students to stop by Sterling Memorial Library to write a postcard for the archives in answer to the question: “What do you want future students to know about being a student at Yale in 2020?” More than 200 students showed up to share their thoughts, fears, and hopes.

 “I do miss lectures in person, but I think it’s had some interesting perks,” wrote a first year MD/PhD student. “We did a virtual hackathon! I feel less guilty about getting takeout since it supports the economy, and personally, I prefer small group hangouts. That being said, I do look forward to post COVID days. I miss hugs!”

Including the postcards, Help Us Make History has collected 345 responses to eight prompts. In December 2020, University Archivist Mike Lotstein discussed the project with President Peter Salovey on the podcast “Yale Talk,” which also featured students reading some of the postcards.

As the pandemic progressed, the University Archives found additional ways to collect and preserve pandemic experiences at Yale, including:

  • Working with the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning to collect pandemic-related student classwork. To date, 186 papers, essays, oral histories, short films, and personal diaries have been received. The collaboration expanded in March 2021 with an invitation to faculty and graduate students to contribute recorded lectures and other pandemic-related content they developed for teaching.
  • Working with Saybrook College students to produce a podcast series, “Say and Seal: Lives at Yale During COVID-19.” Henry Jacob, ’21, Micah Young, ’21 and graduate student Adam Haliburton produced two episodes featuring pandemic-related news and interviews with students and faculty. The first episode focused on students taking a gap year during the pandemic. Listen to the podcast.
  • Partnering with Yale’s Parents’ Fund to invite Yale parents to share their perspectives on how the pandemic affected their students. Sixty seven submissions have been received.
  • Archiving websites related to the University’s pandemic response and activities. Forty-eight websites have been archived from the Yale School of Public Health, the Yale School of Medicine, the Office of the President, the Office of Public Affairs and Communication, and many more.

Help Us Make History will continue to gather pandemic-related resources and perspectives through December 2021.

This article was written by University Archivist Michael Lotstein. Contact him for more information on the Help Us Make History project. 

Images: A student writes a postcard in Sterling Memorial Library for the Help Us Make History project. Photo by Sydney Holmes.

One of nearly 200 postcards filled out by students about their pandemic experiences. Photo from Manuscripts and Archives.

Post on May 24, 2021 - 11:25am |

May 24, 2021

Photo: Logan Howard, winner of the Library Map Prize.

In spite of ongoing pandemic-related challenges during the last year, the class of 2021 accomplished a wide range of original research projects using Yale University Library’s collections and resources. Six students wrote senior essays that were recognized with one of three annual library prizes. The winning essays have been published on Eli Scholar.

The Harvey M. Applebaum ’59 Award is for an essay using the library’s collections of government documents and information. This year, a first prize of $500, a second prize of $250 and an honorable mention of $150 were awarded. Many of this year’s essays examined policy inequities in topics such as the history of Black women's reproductive health, the relationship between freedom and resistance for Black people during and after the Civil War, regulatory agency capture, environmental justice and energy subsidies, U.S. consumer culture and regulation of prices, and the 1912 Cuban Race War.

The Applebaum Award is chaired by Kenya Flash, government information librarian. The 2021 submissions were judged by Barbara Esty, data librarian; Cate Kellett, catalog librarian; Scott Matheson, associate librarian for Technical Services; Melissa Grafe, the John R. Bumstead Librarian for Medical History; and Jennifer Snow, librarian for anthropology, sociology, and women, gender, and sexuality studies, producing these results:

First prize: Aakshi Agrawal, Pauli Murray College, a Political Science major, for “Regulatory Agency Capture: How the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Approved the Mountain Valley Pipeline.” Michael Fotos, director of undergraduate studies for Environmental Studies and lecturer in Political Science, was Aakshi’s senior essay advisor. Read Aakshi’s essay here.

Second prize: Trinidad Kechkian, Pierson College, an Environmental Studies major, for “An Equitable Transformation of the Energy System: The Role of State-Level Incentives for Distributed Energy Resources.” Trinidad’s senior essay advisor was Professor Robert Klee, lecturer at Yale School of the Environment. Read Trinidad’s essay here.

Honorable mention: Angela Xiao, Jonathan Edwards College, a History major, for “Battling over Bargain-Hunting: Defining the American consumer through mass-consumption shopping practices, 1909-1915.” Angela’s essay advisor was Professor Beverly Gage, professor of History & American Studies and the Brady-Johnson Professor of Grand Strategy. Read Angela’s essay here.

From left to right: Angela Xiao, Aakshi Agrawal, Trinidad Kechkian, the winners of this year's Applebaum awards.

The Manuscripts and Archives Diane Kaplan Memorial Prize awards $500 for an essay based substantially on research in any Yale Manuscripts and Archives collection.

The Kaplan Prize is chaired by Bill Landis, associate director for Public Services. Jennifer Coggins, archivist for collection development; Mike Lotstein, university archivist; Joshua Cochran, archivist for American Diplomacy; Michelle Peralta, resident archivist for Yale Special Collections; and Jessica Quagliaroli, archivist for Architectural Records, also served as judges for this year’s essay submissions.

Nathalie J. Bussemaker, Morse College, a major in Global Affairs and History, for “Imperialism’s Stepchild: Dura-Europos and the Political Uses of Archaeology in the French Mandate of Syria, 1920-1939.” Professor Jonathan Wyrtzen, associate professor of Sociology, History, and International Affairs was Nathalie’s senior essay adviser. “Nathalie’s senior essay is a strong, fascinating study of the geopolitical uses of archaeology in Syria as it was emerging as an independent country from French colonial administration. She makes particularly creative use of the personal papers of Yale faculty members involved in the Dura-Europos excavation, as well as the Yale presidential records of James Rowland Angell, to analyze and explore the meanings of the archaeological endeavor in the larger context of interwar global politics and imperialism.” Read Nathalie’s essay here.

Nathalie Bussemaker, winner of the Diane Kaplan Memorial Prize.

The Library Map Prize recognizes the best use of maps in a senior essay or equivalent project. This year, a first prize of $500 and an honorable mention of $250 was awarded. The Map Prize is chaired by GIS librarian Miriam Olivares. This year’s judges were Brandon Milliate, librarian for South and Southeast Asian studies; Catherine DeRose, manager of the library’s Digital Humanities Lab; Kayleigh Bohemier, librarian for science research support; Kelly Blanchat, librarian for undergraduate teaching and outreach; Lori Bronars, life sciences librarian; and Rachel Sperling, librarian for environmental studies.

First prize: Logan Howard, Ezra Stiles College, an Environmental Studies major for "Heat Stress in Urban Environments: A Case Study of Heat Vulnerability in New Haven, CT.” The judges said Howard’s essay showed “remarkably well-thought out cartographic reasoning” with maps that were “seamlessly integrated into the body of the paper” giving readers a detailed view of the factors that contribute to temperature anomalies in New Haven. Read Logan’s essay here.

Honorable mention: Nora Heaphy, Morse College, an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major for "Climate Niche Evolution in C4+CAM Portulaca and Closely Related C3+CAM Lineages.” The judges commented on the essay’s strong cartographic design, rigorous attention to detail and effective display of geospatial data. Read Nora’s essay here.

Nora Heaphy, honorable mention for the Library Map Prize.

Post on May 24, 2021 - 1:22pm |

May 25, 2021

Almost a century and a half of the Yale Daily News (YDN), the nation’s oldest continuously published college daily, will soon be fully accessible to researchers online, thanks to a $500,000 gift from an anonymous Yale College graduate and former YDN reporter. The gift will allow the library to finish digitizing past copies of the YDN since its founding in 1878 and—through the launch of a new digital platform—make it easier for researchers to search and find materials in the YDN Historical Archive.

As the primary source of news and debate at Yale, the YDN is published every weekday by its student staff when the university is in session. Many of the paper’s student editors, writers, and contributors have gone on to prominent careers in journalism, letters, and public life. Among them are Perry Bacon Jr., William F. Buckley, Lan Samantha Chang, Michiko Kakutani, Joanne Lipman, Wesley Morris, Samantha Power, and Garry Trudeau.

The library began digitizing the YDN in 2008. In its first phase, many friends supported the project by funding a series of years of the paper’s publication. Issues from the paper’s founding in 1878 through 1995 are available online, and the new funding will allow the library to digitize and upload issues from 1995 to the present.

The new, more user-friendly platform, publicly launched this week, is already helping researchers. Susan Chen ’22, an economics major and current publisher of the YDN, and her 15 person staff have been using the online archive to compile memorabilia books that offer each Yale class a snapshot of their four college years through the eyes of the newspaper. The new interface has made it easier to search through past editions by date, time, or keyword. Chen especially likes the ability to download a PDF of each edition, a function not possible on the previous platform.

Each digitized newspaper page displays crisply on the screen and the zoom-in feature can highlight smaller text and images. The ability of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to recognize text within images enables users to search for keywords within any article, image, or advertisement. Once an article is selected, the software can identify all the article’s locations. For instance, if a story begins on page one and continues on page six, the entire article can be viewed together.

With about 35 yearbooks completed, Chen said using the YDN Historical Archive has been a remarkable experience. Through its unique lens, she has seen how the university community responded to major issues of the time, such as the Vietnam War or women being admitted to Yale. Recurring topics through the years, such as race, equality, and gender issues, have triggered for her “glimmers of the present” discourses. In addition to more serious topics, she also discovered some “hilarious snippets” such as the one from 1967 about a phantom foot nibbler in the stacks. “I’m so, so grateful to the library for taking on this project or else this history would be lost,” Chen said.

Billy Schroeder ’22, a history major, has been using the YDN Archive to write a research paper on William Beinecke ’36. He struggled to find primary sources until a librarian suggested the historical archive, with dozens of relevant articles from the early 1930s. He learned through the newspaper’s football rosters that Beinecke was a right tackle! “I couldn’t be happier with the archives and think it’s a great resource for the Yale community,” Schroeder said.

“This gift is already making a significant impact on researchers at Yale,” said Basie Gitlin, the library’s director of development. “We are tremendously grateful to the donor, who, as a YDN student reporter during their time at Yale, fully understands the value of such a resource to the Yale community and to researchers around the world.” A portion of the gift will form the nucleus of an endowed fund to support the ongoing costs of hosting and preserving the digital archive. To fully endow the fund, the library is seeking to raise another $250,000.

-- by Amanda Patrick

Post on May 24, 2021 - 9:10pm |

May 10, 2021

Join Barbara Rockenbach, Stephen F. Gates ’68 University Librarian and the Sterling Library Exhibition Committee at 4:00 pm on May 11 to celebrate the completion of Kathryn Schmechel’s senior essay exhibition “Free the New Haven Panthers”: The New Haven Nine, Yale, and the May Day 1970 Protests That Brought Them Together.

Kathryn Schmechel ’21 will give an overview of the exhibition, discussing how she selected and displayed images from the library's collections. There will also be a conversation with her advisors, Crystal Feimster, associate professor of African American Studies, History and American Studies, and James Kessenides, Kaplanoff Librarian for American History. There will be some time for Q&A at the end.

The senior exhibition project sponsored by Yale Library provides one rising senior with funding and training in curatorial skills which culminates in the production of a library exhibition based on the student’s senior essay topic using materials from the Yale Library collections.

Register for the event here. The Zoom event URL will be sent via your registration confirmation.

Man with Sunglasses Standing in Woolsey Hall Auditorium at a Black Panther Party Rally, photographed by John T. Hill, 1970.

Post on May 10, 2021 - 2:41pm |

May 5, 2021

Join us online for a free Indie Lens Pop-Up screening and filmmaker discussion of The Donut King, a new documentary by Alice Gu, co-presented as part of the Center for Asian American Media's CAAMFest.

The Donut King is the rags-to-riches story of Ted Ngoy, who escaped Cambodia and arrived in America as a refugee in 1975, and quickly built an unlikely multimillion-dollar empire baking America's favorite pastry, the donut. Ngoy sponsored hundreds of visas for incoming refugees and helped them get on their feet in their new country, teaching them the ways of the donut business. By 1979, he was living the American Dream—but a great rise is often followed by a fall. The Donut King is a tale of hard knocks, redemption, wealth, survival, risk, and donuts.

7 p.m. Wednesday, May 19

Register Here

Watch the Trailer

What is Indie Lens Pop-Up?
Featuring upcoming documentaries from the Peabody Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens, Indie Lens Pop-Up brings people together for film screenings and community-driven conversations. Indie Lens Pop-Up is presented in Connecticut by the Yale Film Archive, CPTV, and Independent Lens.

Post on May 5, 2021 - 5:26am |