This project is a collaboration between West Chester University's spring 2018 HIS 480 and HON 451 courses and spring 2019 HIS399/HON451 courses taught by professors Janneken Smucker and Charles Hardy, and the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries, and the Free Library of Philadelphia.
We are especially grateful to Doug Boyd and Kopana Terry at the Nunn Center for their support of our project and their invaluable platform Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS), which has enabled us to bring new life to the old oral history interviews and to curate the new interviews. Boyd has been integral to the conception and execution of the project. To conduct the new oral history interviews in spring 2019, we partnered with Free Library of Philadelphia. With the assistance of Andrew Nurkin, Deputy Director of the Division of Cultural and Civic Engagement, students conducted interviews at the Independence, Lillian Moreno, and Northeast Regional branch libraries.
Beyond the course, students took ownership of the project, continuing to contribute well after the submission of grades. In summer 2018, Nicolette Boyd, Kolby Gonzalez, Leonard Lederman, and Meg Hartnett continued to edit and polish the site, OHMSing additional interviews, cleaning up metadata, and revising exhibits. In summer 2019, Nicholas Heydeman continued work on the project as an intern. And the invaluable Nicole Strunk, who also served as the 2019 Community Engagement Scholar, provided leadership through her metadata and exhibit editing, troubleshooting, and peer mentoring. She also provided essential logistical support in scheduling interviews at branch libraries throughout the city.
We also would like to thank our many generous partners who have granted us permission to use images and sources from their collections to help us tell the stories of Philadelphia immigration. Temple University’s Special Collections provided us to access to numerous materials, including articles and images from the George McDowell Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Collection, and images and ephemera from the Housing Association of Delaware Valley and the Octavia Hill Association. We similarly received access and permission to use many historical photographs from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and Hagley Museum and Library. We also make use of many photographs from the Philadelphia Department of Records, which provides access to its extensive photographic collections through PhillyHistory.org. Other key archival collections that we drew on include the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Nevison Film Archive.
Image: Library Company of Philadelphia, John Frank Keith Photography Collection