Seeking submissions! The Williams Way: Reckoning with Our Silenced Narratives

In coordination with the Committee on Diversity and Community and the Minority Coalition student leaders, the Libraries are seeking submissions for The Williams Way: Reckoning with Our Silenced Narratives.

Black Student Union Mural
Black Student Union Mural by Jerome Meadows (Mears House), Williams Special Collections

In the fall of 2020, Williams’ Committee on Diversity and Community was charged with comprehensively engaging with Williams’ histories and to imagine and craft practices of communally accountable institutional memory that reflect the complexity and diversity of the College’s histories. Examining difficult moments of history has the potential for professional opportunism. This project seeks to disavow these harmful practices; instead, we are putting this call out to preserve narratives that have been disproportionately and purposefully undocumented. 

As part of these efforts, we’re seeking to diversify our alumni collections and other collections in order to generate the most comprehensive collective possible. We do this with a particular eye towards histories of racial injustice, struggles for equity and inclusion, as well as transformation at Williams and in relationship to Williams. Anything shared with us remains owned by the person who has shared it.

By collecting stories, we aspire to preserve these submissions for posterity, and make them accessible to a broader array of campus memory through our Library’s Special Collections. You are sharing your narratives with us so we can preserve them. Please let us know if the materials require restrictions or an embargo period.  

In particular, we are reaching out to you as alumni, in a broad sense, including students who graduated from Williams but also students who attended, but did not graduate from Williams, and faculty and staff who worked here and left to work at other institutions. The hope is to host, together at Williams, a multitude of voices about the College’s past that can be accessible in a variety of ways for educational projects regarding institutional memory and other forms of historical research. By preserving these stories, Williams’ histories become conversations, centering an array of voices, rather than one dominant history.

Objectives: Special Collections seeks to document, archive, and preserve the vast array of Williams’ experiences in a variety of mediums. Examples: audio, voice memos, posters, social media, memes, emails, screenshots, photos, video, art, zines, journaling, photography with text, or a blog. This documentation will be available in Special Collections for future researchers. You can decide whether this material will be made available to other units on campus, as well. For instance, if you would like your submission preserved as part of the public-facing Bicentennial of the Society of Alumni “Every Person Has a Story” Initiative, there is an option to indicate that on the submission form. Otherwise, you can be assured that your submission will be preserved by and accessible only through Special Collections for research purposes.

Framework: We want to collaborate respectfully in sharing your memories and how they get put in conversation with those of others. Thus, the framework for what you share is open — you decide. Different mediums and rhythms work for different people. You may want to submit a collection of physical material, or digital images, or you might record a voice memo with one of us where you share stories of particular events, or artwork that you share via website url or Google Drive. 

Ways of sharing your memories and how to submit:

  1. record a voice memo (submit here) (alone or with a committee member) and share your story of a particular campus event or exchange. Please see the page “how to record a voice memo” for more information on how to do this 
  2. mail physical materials or share scanned versions (submit here)
  3. screenshots of memes, social media, or your creations alone or associated with text (submit here)
  4. journal via Twitter/ Facebook/ Instagram or blog/ web page (submit here)
  5. video or audio alone or associated with text (submit here)
  6. photographs alone or associated with text  (submit here)
  7. digital or physical artwork alone or associated with text (non-traditional artistic options are also welcome, including zines, etc.; for more information on zines, please contact Hale Polebaum-Freeman) (submit here)
  8. we are also open to other ideas! (submit here)

If you have general or specific questions about what we hope to accomplish, please reach out to members of the alumni memory subcommittee of the Committee on Diversity and Community:

Ethan Barron, assistant professor of physical education, head men’s track & field coach, [email protected]

Twink Williams Burns ‘06, strategic advisor for admission and financial aid community engagement, [email protected]

Leila Derstine, assistant director of alumni relations/director of intellectual engagement, [email protected]

Jessika Drmacich, records manager & digital resources archivist, [email protected]

Jacqueline Hidalgo, associate dean for institutional diversity, equity & inclusion, and professor of Latina/o/x studies and religion, [email protected]

Anthony Pernell-McGee, associate director/director of inclusive career exploration, [email protected]