The Flower Petal Project

Below is a photo that I took of one of my favorite hobbies- drying flowers. I have always collected and dried/pressed flowers when a significant event in my life has taken place. These flowers are a physical representation to me of my memories, good or bad. By creating an activist project that focuses on claiming physical space in order to become visible with experiences of harm, I hope to draw on my own personal feelings on the importance of physicality with memory, erasure, forgetting, and healing.
Angela Motte

I am a firm believer in the importance of bringing to light erasure in history, especially if the group of people who are being silenced are oppressed by the mainstream culture. Tying together activism and history is a large part of why I plan to pursue history in other forms of higher education. I am a believer in restorative justice, and closure through group organization. One of the projects I am working on at Bryn Mawr is a new organization on campus- Students Against Sexual Harm (S.A.S.H.). Although this group is new, I have found that students have a deep connection to this topic. Whether students were themselves sexually harmed, or if someone knows of a student who has experienced harm, it is a difficult topic to navigate because of the content. I feel that because of this, students have not been given the space to bring to light experiences that they have had. As Bryn Mawr is a historically women’s college, our undergraduate experiences with sexual harm tend to be overlooked because it is assumed that ‘girls won’t do that,’ or that ‘those things only happen at co-educational schools.’ I want to combine a public history project with a healing experience for students who feel that they need a space of memory on campus. I feel that the public history project brings about real and significant change if it creates a voice for an underrepresented subject that is intrinsically influential to our student body.

This project relates to public history because it deals with memories of the community. My intended participants is the students of Bryn Mawr College, although the viewers would be the public at large. This project would trace the history of sexual harm on Bryn Mawr’s campus, dating back to The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act), or earlier, depending on the cases. It would also address the history of sexual harm on campus, and the legislature that followed to protect students. I would additionally trace the specific actions that Bryn Mawr has taken to combat sexual harm. Continue reading

For whom does it exist?

As I was reading Mining the Museum: An Installation Confronting History by Lisa G. Corrin, I was constantly thinking in the back of my mind “Who does this belong to?” The idea of property has been a prevalent thought of mine through out this class, but I think this article really made me push this idea into the forefront of my mind. I think the role of curator for a museum exhibit relies a lot on thinking for whom does the exhibit exist. A lot of exhibits are intended to make the audience feel/react to something, so creating how would the curator be able to anticipate the audience, and present the material in such a way that was the best point of access for people to learn, is something that is very prevalent.


The actual workings of an institution seem to me to be very vast and intricate- navigating the space between a community and outreach always seems to be. However, I thought it was very cool that Corrin spent a lot of time on the actual development of an exhibit. I thought her included square box of questions that were posted in the elevator was a really neat compilation of questions that I myself was thinking as I was envisioning the installation.

TW: Rape, Sexual Assault, University of Virginia, Sexual Harm

From Rugby Road to Vinegar Hill, We’re gonna get drunk tonight.
The faculty’s afraid of us, They know we’re in the right,
So fill your cups, your loving cups, As full as full can be,
And as long as love and liquor last, We’ll drink to the U. of V.


Oh, I think we need another drink! Heh!
I think we need another drink! Heh!
I think we need another drink! Heh!
I think we need another drink! To the glory of the U. Va.


All you girls from Mary Washington and R.M.W.C,
Never let a Virginia man an inch above your knee,
He’ll take you to his fraternity house and fill you full of beer,
And soon you’ll be the mother of a bastard Cavalier!

-Rugby Road, Traditional UVA Fight Song


All the girls from Sweet Bush

Like guys from W&L.
All the girls from Hollins
Like Vee Mees, we can tell.
Now Careful girls, don’t let them drink
And coax your from your dress,
‘Cause as sure as there is whiskey
They’ll puke and make a mess.

A hundred Delta Gammas,
A thousand AZD’s,
Ten thousand Pi Phi bitches,
Who get down on their knees.
But the ones that we hold true,
The ones that we hold dear,
Are the ones who stay up late at night,
And take it in the rear.


All the first-year women
Are morally uptight.
They’ll never do a single thing
Unless they know it’s right.
But then they come to Rugby Road
And soon they’ve seen the light,
And you never know how many men
They’ll bring home every night.


She’s a helluva twat from Agnes Scott;
She’ll fuck for fifty cents.
She’ll lay her ass upon the grass,
Her panties on the fence.
You supply the liquor.
And she’ll supply the lay.
And if you can’t get it up, you sunuva a bitch,
You’re not from UVa.


The BC girls are Catholic
They’re virgins through and through
But when they see a Cavalier
They know just what to do
They hike their skirts; they drop their drawers;
They back against the wall
Because they know a Wahoo Fuck
Is the greatest of them all.

– Rugby Road Alternative Verses


The original article was removed by Rolling Stone, but you can find it HERE.

The response article published by Rolling Stone can be found HERE.


I’m really happy that Take Back the Archive gives individuals space to archive experiences of sexual harm at the University of Virginia. Granted, I’m not sure if I just couldn’t figure out the site, or if the website that was intended to achieve the digital collection wasn’t up yet, but I couldn’t navigate it to see any actual documents. So, I decided to do a little researching on my own. Continue reading

Mental Mapping Bryn Mawr

Bryn Mawr Now: Cataloging Fever’ Strikes Student Organizations and (Re)constructing women: scaled portrayals of privilege and gender norms on campus made me stop and think for a second about how the two pieces were related….

Coming from my background as a traditional aged student who has lived (and will live) all four of my undergraduate years on the Bryn Mawr Campus, I was thinking about how my privileges have effected the space that I inhabit. How does my body navigate Bryn Mawr? The first thing I thought about was my physical ability- for the most part, I can get around BMC pretty well. I have access to most of the spaces on campus, and I can get around without help. But do I actively use all of the spaces that I can arguably get into? No- and that’s where our social stratification begins. The things that I chose to do/am given the ability to do on campus affects the spaces on campus that I view as ‘mine.’

I think about the spaces that I inhabit to be ‘mine’- that is, I feel a partial ownership for them. For example, being an HA, whenever I see trash on my hall I pick it up. It may not be my trash, but it’s ‘my’ space, which I feel responsible for. In opposition, I thought of the time when I was SGA secretary- I had access to the SGA Offices in the SGA House. I would go into the office space when I needed to get away and do work, but I also would occasionally feel like that space wasn’t ‘mine.’ Upon reflection, I think this is because only few students have the access to this space, and because of the limited access (although I had more accessibility to the space) I had less claim to the space. Communal space is founded on living together, and taking care of things together, whereas spaces that only support limited access by certain students are given as a privilege, which I know is a temporary space. This temporary space, to me, doesn’t feel like it’s mine, in contrast to a space that I have to share with a larger group of people. This expands my mental map of Bryn Mawr significantly, rather than spaces I am actually ‘in charge of’ or have ‘ownership’ of.

As I was teasing out this idea of space and my mental map of Bryn Mawr, I was also playing around with the idea of ownership. What does ownership mean in the context of a undergraduate narrative? One thing that I thought of was May Day gifts, which tied my thoughts back to “Bryn Mawr Now: Cataloging Fever’ Strikes Student Organizations.” Although student organizations have an interest in cataloging items such as books, the greater Bryn Mawr population contributes to a cataloging project that (I would argue) the vast majority of them don’t know that they are participating in- May Day Gifts. Each May Day gift comes with a list of the previous owners, and occasionally a little note with it. It is up to the owner to find a new owner who will hopefully pass on the item to another student, who will pass it on to another, and so on. Although this is a process that wasn’t addressed in the article, I still think that it has value in regards to our campus culture, and how we find value in such items.

Someone Please Help Me Tease Out This Thought??

In Dolores Hayden’s The Power Of Place, Hayden talked a lot about allowing people to claim a space as their own in terms of memory and public history. By allowing oneself autonomy of a space, people are granted agency of a history. Agency is vital to the understanding of the history of a place, especially if that history is shared within a community. Hayden specifically talks about Women and People of Color in these instances, and allowing members of these groups to find a place for them in the larger societal narrative. The role of the community for remembrance is key for the successful continuation of a narrative. However, this places a lot of pressure on the people directly involved to ‘tell the tale.’


Hayden writes, “While interdisciplinary, community-based projects are not always easy to accomplish, they are not necessarily enormously expensive. They require a labor of love from everyone involved, transcending old roles and expectations, but these are not-million dollar projects.” That’s super great, and inclusive, but is it really? Sure, from a pure economic stand point, certain types of collections are relatively inexpensive. But what about for people who can’t afford the time to collect materials, create a collection, pay/give time to continue the collection, etc.?

I guess what I’m really thinking about is Detroit.

My family comes from Detroit, and arguably, it’s one of my favorite cites.


Unfortunately, when the auto-company took a hit, so did the economy of the city.

The Music Hall

Obviously, all of Detroit does not look like this. The city has campaigns to boost tourism to the city, as well as to Michigan in general.

But what I am saying is that certain sectors of the city are no longer serviced by the police or firefighters, and do not receive electricity or power. That’s a pretty big deal, seeing as people still live in those sectors.

The thing is, Detroit has a super amazing history. Besides the car industry, it’s common knowledge for people from the area to know about pewabic pottery, the alcohol smuggling during prohibition, and The Cadieux Cafe.

The only place in North America where you can Feather Bowl. Also, has really good food. Would recommend the clams.

I don’t think that it’s up to the people to continue the history, because so many other things are pressing down on them. But I do think that it’s important for them to have a voice in the way that their history is remembered. I’m trying to grapple with this idea- I want history to be remembered through the voices of those living in it, but I don’t want the pressure to be on the people to recount the events, especially when so many other things are going on.


I guess what I’m saying, really, is: I don’t know what to think- I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place, and they both are very, very privileged spaces to be in. 

“Patricidal Memory and the Passerby” by Rebecca Schneider // Black Liberation 1969

“Patricidal Memory and the Passerby” by Rebecca Schneider

In another class, I had to read this really, really interesting piece by Rebecca Schneider. We talked about it briefly in class, but her piece talks a lot about the interaction between the monument and the onlooker. It was super insightful. I really recommend looking at it!

Black Liberation 1969

I really liked browsing through the Black Liberation 1969 Archive. I found the interactive 1969 Mapping the Sit In quite useful (I also am really curious as to how to do that on Omeka??). It took me a little bit to find out the events in chronological order to be honest, but it was a really neat idea regardless. Luckily, the Timeline of Events was a bit easier for me to understand and navigate.

One thing that really shocked me what the FBI surveillance of the black student population of Swarthmore College. I supposed that I hadn’t even considered the FBI’s involvement until I browsed the collection. A part of me is terrified that this ever existed, but the other part of me is really happy that the physical evidence is able to be displayed on a accessible medium that can be used to educate other people.

I suppose it bothered me that this event happened so close to us, and impacted so many people, and yet this is the first time I’m ever hearing about it. I’m not sure why this is, because it seems to me that this was a very significant event, but I’ve never studied it in class, and I haven’t heard any students on campus talking about it. I recognize that it happened quite some time ago, but I think an event like this would be hard to forget, and would even be passed from generation to generation. This opens up other questions about the passage of memory, the transmission of information, and what events are deemed important enough to pass on.


Unsung Founders Memorial

I really enjoyed reading Remembering Forgetting: A Monument to Erasure at the University of North Carolina by Timothy J. McMillan. I found parts of the section be eerily parallel to that of Bryn Mawr, and our numerous monuments around campus that go without true public explanation of their pasts (for example; Thomas Great Hall, the now-removed bust in Canaday, the coffin in the cloisters). Although the article did include some photographs of the memorial, I thought it would be interesting to dig up some other ones to share with everyone.


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The article did mention that due to people sitting on, or near, the monument, they would have a tendency to brush their feet up against the people figurines below the table. You can see the wear in the first and third photographs, and you can see how people sit around the table in the second photograph.


I found this interesting, but also heavily symbolic. One of the main purposes of erecting this monument was to give a voice to the silenced peoples of the past, specifically black enslaved individuals upon who’s labor the university was created. Interestingly enough, in present times, the symbolic figures are being worn back down into featureless, indistinguishable, masses. Timothy J. McMillan already addressed the three kinds of figures depicted in the memorial, but the physical wearing down of the statues, I think, is painfully ironic. Yet again, you have people of color, specifically black people, who are being broken down by the casual use of white people.


I think this points us, once again, to much larger issues. Although this memorial was intended to create a physical space where people could meet and talk about racial issues that stem from a problematic past, instead we have a table that goes without proper recognition, and is used, and worn down, until the faceless masses blur together once again, putting us in exactly the same position in which we began- oppression and silencing of the past.

The Troubled Past/Present/Future of America’s Universities

I think that a lot of students take the history of their institution as something that happened in the past, having no pertinence to their lives today. The history should remain in the past, right? I would disagree. I think time, and the horrors of the past, are given a pass over because people are able to separate themselves from the system in which they were created from. If something happened a hundred years ago, I had nothing to do with it, so it’s easy to blame someone else for the bad things that have come out of it. Craig Steven Wilder’s entire book rests upon the fact that institutions of higher education not only were dependent on slavery for economic and social stability, but they became houses where racist ideology were mass produced and distributed. It is so easy to simply say, “But that was then, and this is now!”- but I think that would be a great mistake on several ideological levels. Without acknowledging the structure of an institution, you are not able to fully grasp the pathos of the establishment.

Two instances in the reading really fascinated me (aka creeped me out). In the epigraph of chapter three, Wilder includes a stanza from a poem to George Berkeley, reading, “If you made me your wife, Sir, in time you may fill a Whole town with our children, and likewise your villa. I, famous for breeding, you, famous for knowledge, I’ll found the whole nation, you’ll found a whole college.” This makes my skin crawl. Not only is it equating a women’s worth on her ability to have children, but the idea that two people will be procreating only in order to pass on their ideological beliefs unsettles me. I think that a large portion of education rests on being exposed to different mindsets, even ones you vehemently disagree with. By saying that Berkley will ‘found a whole college’ from this creepy procreative process makes me think that he would only be passing on his thoughts and beliefs, which would only further racism and systematic oppression.

Another instance that made me uncomfortable was on page 94, where Reverend Smith talked about ‘educating the Native children.’ Wilder writes, “In these Schools, some of the most Ingenious and Docile of the young Indians might be instructed in our Faith and Morals, and Language, and in our Method of Life and Industry, and in some of those Arts which are most useful…To civilize our Friends and Neighbors; – to strengthen our Allies and our Alliance; – to adorn and dignify Human Nature; – to save Souls from Death; to promote the Christian Faith, and the Divine Glory, are the Motives.” He’s literally saving that they are going to kidnap Native American children, teach them to believe the things that the colonizers believe, and then return them to their families, in hopes that the children will uproot their families, and either indoctrinate them to what the English believe, or use another kind of force to change the ‘sympathies of these nations towards the English.” Someone kidnapping children in order to change their beliefs in order to return them years later, only to try to uproot a system? In an attempt to save their souls? These are children! I know that time has given us a shield for these horrors, but can we try to image it, and recognize how horrible these things were??


Why I (Still) Think Dean Spade is Super Cool

I first saw Dean Spade at a talk at Bryn Mawr last year. Before he even began to talk to us about his presentation topic, he took a moment to reflect on the Native American land that Bryn Mawr was located on. He reminded us of the privilege that we had to be in that space, and that the things that we could take from that space could open other doors for us. He told us not to ignore this privilege, but to recognize it, and to use our resources to make effective change in order to help others. Then, he began his presentation. I had never, in my entire college career (life even), had a presenter begin by having us recognize the basic foundations upon which we stood.

In the vimeo of Dean Spade speaking at Barnard College, he begins his presentation in the same way. I’m going to use this blog post to do a self-reflection on the fact that trans folk have been excluded from educational opportunities in the context of Bryn Mawr until recently (and arguably still are today).

Only recently has Bryn Mawr opened its doors to trans women. That decision, even, had been hotly contested within the administration. I would argue, even more so, within the student body. I remember I once heard a group of students talking (I was totally ease dropping), saying something to the extent of “A Women’s college is meant for women, so I think this whole thing is ridiculous.” Something even more shocking was “I wouldn’t feel comfortable with them on campus.” This sort of transphobia ranges from mircoagressive to down-right prejudice. Who are we to place a value judgement on someone’s life in order to deny them an education? Bryn Mawr was created to give women (white, cis-gendered, traditional age, wealthy) an education because they were seen to have less opportunities to receive an excellent education. Key words: they were seen to have less opportunities to receive an excellent education. Why does this fundamental doctrine not ring true of other people- people of color, trans folk, non-traditional aged students, students from low income families. Are we not all entitled to an education that can change the way we think, the way we live, for the better? Simply on a moral stand point, I would find it hard to turn away someone searching for an education based on something as silly as their identity- I would rather focus my attention on people who have been systematically opressed and who do not have the same opportunities.


On the Margins of History

Let me preface this by an acknowledgement of how witty I thought this title was. Not only will I be discussing the metaphorical margins of history (through Bryn Mawr’s Summer School for Women Workers), but through the very physical margins of archived evidence. Where to begin…

I think that one of the most interesting links that I’ve been noting through out numerous pieces of artifacts were the notes written in the margins. In documents, it’s very common for me to find handwritten anecdotes on the original paper. For example, when I was looking at the archives in the John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives I came across underlines of words, doodled smiley faces, and handwritten names. What do these hand written notes mean? What was the significant to the original owners? These little things mean nothing to me. I can only guess at what importance they played in the lives of others. In some instances, it seems obvious- a heart next to a name suggest a relationship of endearment. But what about when I can’t read the text? What am I missing?

This was exactly my thoughts when I was reading the Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry 11 Letter Boxes 7 feet 2 inches linear 2 Flat Boxes 3 feet linear. On the very first page, on the bottom left margin, is a note that begins with ‘No.’ (1).  The line that was bracketed off reads, “The Summer School syllabi, housed in boxes 4, 5, and 6, were transferred from the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, in February 1985.” (2) The rest of the ‘No’ is unreadable. Does the writer know something that I don’t know? Obviously, they were trying to contradict something within the bracket, and had made a hand written annotation in an attempt to write the wrong. Unfortunately, I can’t read what they had written. Could my understanding of history have been altered by the note that I don’t have access too?

Naturally, this lead me on a hunt. After googling the Sophia Smith Collection, I found two records of Bryn Mawr’s Summer School for Women Workers in their database- Eleanor Gwinnell Coit Papers (1913-1974) and Mary van Kleeck Papers (1849-1998). The Eleanor Gwinnell Coit Papers seem to contain information on her work with the American Labor Education Service, as well as education associations and councils. (3) The Mary van Kleeck Papers seem to include “a significant amount of material relating…(to) Bryn Mawr Summer School for Student Workers” (4). Both sets of papers are available thorough the Sophia Smith Collection. Regardless, the little marginal notes from my organizational box achieve papers led me on a small hunt for missing information- it arrived in the form of two women who had written on the Bryn Mawr Summer School for Student Workers, and were involved with its educational processing. Granted, I never learned what the “No” was in reference to, but I felt like I had made a small discovery instead.



(1) “File #3456: “Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry Finding Aid.pdf” Omeka RSS. (Accessed February 10, 2016. 1.

(2) “File #3456: “Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry Finding Aid.pdf” Omeka RSS. (Accessed February 10, 2016. 1.

(3) “Eleanor Gwinnell Coit Papers, 1913-1974: Collection Overview.” Eleanor Gwinnell Coit Papers, 1913-1974: Collection Overview. Accessed February 10, 2016.

(4) “Mary Van Kleeck Papers, 1849-1998 : Collection Overview.” Mary Van Kleeck Papers, 1849-1998 : Collection Overview. Accessed February 10, 2016.