The Williams Way: Reckoning with Our Silenced Narratives

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 and social injustices, 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. You can decide 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.

Purpose of Project: 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. You can be assured that your materials will be preserved by and accessible only through Special Collections in the way you intend.

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.

How to share your narrative

Please see the page “how to record a voice memo” for more information on how to do this 

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:

Jessika Drmacich, Special Collections

Zorelly C. Cepeda Derieux, Alumni Relations