Quakers, Haverford, and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Quakers, Haverford, and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

One of my favorite parts about writing stories for the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s website PhilaPlace.org is learning about the history of places I pass almost every time I am in Philly. In my last post I talked about the Wanamaker family that owned the Macy’s building, but recently I wrote about a site that hits a little closer to home. This past week I wrote a story about the Arch Street Friends Meeting House (which you can read here: www.philaplace.org/story/1629/). On Monday I was able to do my research for this story at Haverford, where I spent most of the day in special collections reading. It was really cool to be able to explore the library more than I do when I am writing papers for my classes. I also knew very little about Haverford’s Quaker history before writing this story. Every thing I knew came from brief discussions with the Quakers on campus and the Quaker style meetings held throughout the year. If you had told me there were different groups within the Society of Friends I’m not sure I would have believed you. The Society of Friends was nicknamed the Quakers because of the way they supposedly quake during prayer meetings. Since I had already been to the Quaker Meeting House at Haverford I knew to expect a simple plain room with benches facing the center, but I had no clue that Quakers did not believe in hierarchies. Thus there are no tiers and the members all face the center. This way there is no group that is in a position of power. At the same...
Sandy Tripods

Sandy Tripods

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill may have drifted to the far corners of our collective memory, but its impacts are still being felt along the affected region of the Gulf Coast. From Pensacola to New Orleans, there continue to be environmental, economic, and sociopolitical consequences that have often escaped the attention of those not directly involved in the aftermath of the spill. www.youtube.com/watch?v=hn4exS_TeGw Through the Interdisciplinary Documentary Media Fellowship, the four of us, Hilary Brashear, Dan Fries, Gebby Keny, Sarah Moses, have had the opportunity to travel down to the Gulf Coast. Following Prof. Helen White and her two chemistry students, Alana Thurston and Chloe Wang, we traveled from Pensacola, FL to Gulfport, MS to New Orleans, LA as they collected samples of oil that continue to wash up along the shore. Rain or shine (mostly shine…hot shine) Helen, Alana, and Chloe marched forward on their search as we chased them with our cameras. Their discerning eyes were quite impressive, finding the tiniest of oil samples among the decoy debris (much to our chagrin, whenever we tried to help we just picked up wood chips). Running after Helen in the blazing heat consists of only part of our documentation this summer. Together, we are developing a short film about the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon spill that explores questions of restoration and voice, while examining our own role as outsiders to the region and the issues at hand. We return to the Gulf in July, focusing our efforts primarily on New Orleans. To be continued… ...
Summer Research in Berlin

Summer Research in Berlin

Ian Gavigan ’14 spent six weeks of his summer research fellowship working in archives and libraries in Berlin, Germany. He didn’t spend all his time there buried in old newspapers. Here, Ian enjoys a late afternoon in Berlin’s neighbor to the southwest, Potsdam. Notice his pockets full of basil. Last Wednesday, I got back from six weeks in Berlin. Before that, I spent days sitting in an archive I happily stumbled upon, juggling dozens of WorldCat entries, boxes of micro-film, piles of history books, and folders of newspaper clippings. Out of this mess I’m supposed to write a thesis. We’ll see about that. For now I’m enjoying picking through the haphazard collection that’s building around my ever-evolving topic: turn-of-the-century (19-20th) mass media (newspapers), the “academy’s” scientific production of knowledge about humans and culture, and popularly-circulating ways of understanding and “thinking” racial difference. Although this project started before I arrived at Haverford, it began taking recognizable shape last fall in Professor Travis Zadeh’s  Religion major area seminar called “Religion and Translation.” Early in the course we read the book “Languages of Paradise” by Maurice Olender. It is a history of the connections between 18th and 19th century philologists–people who studied and compared the history of languages and grammar, especially “Oriental” languages like Sanskrit and Persian–and Indo-European or Aryan racism. Through “Indo-European” linguistics, these academics elaborated detailed and complex “histories” of the Aryan race. Comparing languages like German, Latin, Sanskrit, Persian, and Greek and identifying shared structures and vocabularies among them, philologists theorized a shared “Ursprache” or original language and imagined a pre-modern Golden Age of racial purity. Modern German, and...

And Pig Iron Came Tumbling After

Hey world, I’ve been waiting for this to be unclassified: my much-anticipated PAY UP 2013 tumblr has finally gone public: payup2013.tumblr.com I mentioned last time that I’ve been doing publicity and social media for this fall’s production of PAY UP, an interactive market place of a show that touches on value, commerce, capuchin monkeys etc.  Well, this tumblr is a repository for all media PAY UP related, be it academic, pop-culture, or theatrical.  I’ve amassed a huge quantity of content so far and am working on assembling it into themed units, or collections of posts.  This week, it’s all about capuchin monkeys and Justin Bieber.  Next week, we’re gonna make it rain ($$).  So far, this has been a very nerdy and rewarding experience, a chance to explore the corners of a fascinating show and a gigantic internet.  There’s a link for submissions under the tumblr’s heading–if you have any ideas for future content, please let me know!  At two posts a day, there are going to be hundreds of posts by the time the show is over.  Feedback is always welcome. This week, I’ve also spent a lot of time coordinating Pig Iron’s various social media accounts (@pigirontheatre and Facebook), focusing on promoting the tumblr and the ramping up of the PAY UP production process.  I am really not a social media maven (I don’t use Facebook and can’t really figure out LinkedIn), so this has been a new, and probably very marketable, skill for me.  Surprisingly, I like it a lot–it’s really interesting to see which posts attract the most attention and how I can alter our...

Finishing My Documentary: “Chipinga”

Over the past few weeks since returning from England, I have been working around the clock to finish my documentary. I went through many stages of rough cuts—the first was 14-minutes and I was finally able to cut it down to 10-minutes with the help of suggestions from my classmates, Professor Vicky Funari, Corey Chao, friends and family. I finally finished my film this past Monday and then on Thursday—May 2—I screened my film, along with the other films made in the Advanced Documentary Video Production course. The running time for the film is 10-minutes and 23-seconds. Below is a link to the final version (for now) of Chipinga.  Watch the film here: Here is a brief description of the film: “Chipinga” is a documentary film, which details a filmmaker’s journey to wade through the multiple layers of her mother’s childhood memories and recollect memories she never had. This film illustrates what stories and images from a past life mean to three generations—a granddaughter, a mother and a grandmother—and how the past is constantly re-imagined in the present. Director’s Statement: My mother was born the 1960s in Chipinga—a small town in southern Rhodesia, which later became Zimbabwe. She grew up on a dairy farm during wartime and knew how to shoot, take apart, clean and reassemble an automatic weapon by the age of nine. As a child I idealized her memories and chose to only see the beauty and excitement in these stories. As I grew older, I heard the stories in new ways and learned about the complexity, tragedy and inequality that underlay each moment of life in...