From Past to Present: Digital Narratives of University of the Pacific

Lead Author Affiliation

History

Lead Author Status

Faculty

Second Author Affiliation

History

Second Author Status

Undergraduate - Senior

Third Author Affiliation

Sociology

Third Author Status

Undergraduate - Senior

Fourth Author Affiliation

History

Fourth Author Status

Undergraduate - Junior

Research or Creativity Area

Social Sciences

Abstract

In honor of University of the Pacific’s 100-year anniversary on the Stockton, California campus (1924-2024), HIST 080: Digital Narratives students completed digital projects documenting the stories of diverse Pacificans. This work grew out of the professor’s Faculty Development Leave in the spring of 2023, in which she completed digital history training in order to integrate digital humanities into courses and research. In HIST 080 undergraduate students (including the three who will participate in the Research Showcase) used the Holt-Atherton Special Collections to research histories of the Stockton campus. Topics focused attention on less well-known stories about our campus’s past, including the Indigenous past, Black student life, and the first women faculty members. Students built digital projects that map these stories to specific spaces on campus using open-source platforms such as Omeka, Wix, and Esri StoryMaps.

The project reflects national momentum in the exploration of campus spaces and monuments as a lens for comprehending national events. In 2020, Public Historian dedicated a special issue to unveiling the legacies of slavery in campus histories, and Yale launched a working group on the university’s “historic involvement and associations with slavery and its aftermath.” At Santa Clara University, a team of scholars is addressing the erasure of native histories from California campuses through classroom-based digital projects, and Landgrabu.org (a collaboration of High Country News and several universities and nonprofits) maps the “approximately 10.7 million acres taken from nearly 250 tribes, bands, and communities through over 160 violence-backed land cessions” to fund and build 52 land grant universities.

Purpose

The current project, then, aims to contribute to a broader understanding of campus histories, working collaboratively with students to enhance our educational institutions' responsiveness to the diverse needs of current students and faculty. When these histories authentically mirror students' identities and involve them in the shaping process, they can significantly contribute to students' sense of place and their understanding of knowledge production.

Results

HIST 080 created ten projects. Three will be highlighted at the Showcase.

Significance

The Mapping the Monuments project aligns with public history practices that connect community members (especially alumni and students) to familiar physical sites through historical narrative. Historian David Glassberg’s insight underscores how publics seek “a sense of history, a perspective on the past at the core of who they are and the places they care about.” Places matter. As Yi Fu Tuan has shown, spaces acquire meaning and value over time, evolving into places that provide security and enhance well-being. In an age where digital information increasingly shapes our understanding of the physical world, the HIST 080 project explores these connections by digitizing campus history. Whereas traditional monuments and memorials do not always create a sense of belonging for nontraditional students as they reflect the preservation of top-down narratives about administrators and donors, the HIST 080 project centers diverse students (past and present) in the research and historical narrative.

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From Past to Present: Digital Narratives of University of the Pacific

In honor of University of the Pacific’s 100-year anniversary on the Stockton, California campus (1924-2024), HIST 080: Digital Narratives students completed digital projects documenting the stories of diverse Pacificans. This work grew out of the professor’s Faculty Development Leave in the spring of 2023, in which she completed digital history training in order to integrate digital humanities into courses and research. In HIST 080 undergraduate students (including the three who will participate in the Research Showcase) used the Holt-Atherton Special Collections to research histories of the Stockton campus. Topics focused attention on less well-known stories about our campus’s past, including the Indigenous past, Black student life, and the first women faculty members. Students built digital projects that map these stories to specific spaces on campus using open-source platforms such as Omeka, Wix, and Esri StoryMaps.

The project reflects national momentum in the exploration of campus spaces and monuments as a lens for comprehending national events. In 2020, Public Historian dedicated a special issue to unveiling the legacies of slavery in campus histories, and Yale launched a working group on the university’s “historic involvement and associations with slavery and its aftermath.” At Santa Clara University, a team of scholars is addressing the erasure of native histories from California campuses through classroom-based digital projects, and Landgrabu.org (a collaboration of High Country News and several universities and nonprofits) maps the “approximately 10.7 million acres taken from nearly 250 tribes, bands, and communities through over 160 violence-backed land cessions” to fund and build 52 land grant universities.