The Penn State Educational Activism Archive aims to complicate and expand our historical knowledge of student and faculty activism at Penn State University. Launched in May of 2019, the site features artifacts from the Eberly Family Special Collections Archive. The site employs a wide definition of “activism,” including efforts to change the university through institutional pressure, letter-writing, petitions, sit-ins, speeches, picketing, and formal protest. Spanning movements regarding race, gender, sexuality, labor, and peace, the archive includes items capturing a century of social transformation.
This archive was created with the help of Project STAND (Student Activism Now Documented), an online clearinghouse for researchers engaged in the study of student dissent. In line with Project STAND’s mission, students selected and analyzed artifacts with an eye to questions of historical representation. In one sense, they sought artifacts that reflected efforts of marginalized populations at Penn State. In some cases, they identified artifacts that demonstrated how the structures of power and authority at the university served to keep those voices in the margins.
Designed by the Office of Digital Pedagogy and Scholarship, the Educational Activism Archive forms part of an initiative to promote Digital Humanities work among undergraduate students in the Penn State College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. They aim to teach students skills in digital content production while helping to make PSU’s research available to a wider community of scholars.