Local History Galore
In recent years, archivists have become more intentional and even aggressive about collecting materials relating to current events and about actively contributing to the generation of knowledge rather than just sitting back and waiting for donors to donate collections. That is certainly the case with the Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture, which is not only a local history center but also SU’s university archives and special collections. In addition to the usual work of teaching classes, helping researchers, processing collections and creating exhibits, here are some of the activities that Nabb Center staff has been engaging in lately that promote local and SU history:
- COVID-19 Archive: The pandemic is clearly going to be a major point in national and world history as well as locally and for the University, so Jen Piegols, the University archivist, is trying to collect all the documentation she can about it. Contribute your own experiences.
- Black Lives Matter Collection: We also are collecting materials relating to Black Lives Matter. The collection has grown to over 1,300 webpages/social media posts and many photographs. If you would like to contribute items, contact Ian Post, local history archivist, at email@example.com.
- Local history research: Aaron Horner, our research assistant, is working on several projects to generate knowledge. He is researching downtown Salisbury, with a special focus on the Plaza Gallery Building, now owned by SU. He also is abstracting local records that identify free blacks in antebellum Delmarva and doing research on watermen of color for a Maryland Sea Grant program project.
- Virtual walking tour of SU buildings: Jen Piegols researched and created this walking tour of campus buildings, including information on their histories. You can take the tour.
- Exhibits: Melinda McPeek, curator of exhibits and engagement, is working on an exhibit for the spring on responses to emergencies locally, with a focus on the Red Cross. Nabb staff also has contributed to the re-design of the Perdue Museum, which should be open early in 2021 in Perdue Hall and focuses on the history of the company; the museum and the Perdue Archives are the responsibility of the SU Libraries.
- Lynching: The Nabb Center is making available its resources on lynchings on Delmarva to help with research for the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Salisbury Lynching Memorial Task Force. You can see a guide.
- Oral histories: Nabb Center staff members have conducted numerous oral histories, including a recent effort relating to Salisbury’s growth and development as well as interviews with veterans and a project related to education. In addition, the annual teacher institutes which the Nabb Center has hosted the past three summers in partnership with Maryland Humanities have included a focus on oral history.
- “Lift Every Voice” Grant: The Nabb Center is playing a supporting role in this program in partnership with the Wicomico Public Libraries and the Fenix Youth Project. Teens will be interviewing members of the local African American community and will then create a community poem and a visual display based on the interviews. Nabb staff will provide guidance on conducting oral history interviews, compile background research, and preserve the audio recordings and final products of the program.