Congratulations!

A variety of congratulations are in order, as we close another semester at Rutgers University-Camden. 

Matt Grace, a History student in our program, has been awarded the Alumni Association Outstanding Graduate Student Award for this academic year. This award caps off quite the year for Grace, who was accepted into the Ph. D. program at the University of Virginia with full funding. Congratulations, and we wish you the best! 

Scott Flovin received the first annual award for best research paper at the MA level for his essay titled, “Native Americans, Swamps, and Inferiority Complexes: Hugh Williamson’s Fearful Response to European Nationalism.” An abstract for his paper can be found here

The History department is conferring 10 Masters degrees this year, which, according to Program Director Andrew Shankman, makes up approximately 10% of all graduate degrees being conferred this year by the college of Arts and Sciences. We offer a hearty congratulations to our graduate students, and we wish you all the best of luck in your post-graduate lives! 

Rutgers-Camden: A Campus In Flux. Special Exhibition Created by Graduate Students!

Dr. Wendy Woloson’s Spring 2019 course, titled Museums in the Digital Age, culminated in a large, collaborative final project: the development of an exhibition that would be housed in the Paul Robeson Library at Rutgers-Camden. The class roster consisted of six graduate students: Ernest Arians, McKenna Britton, Lucy Davis, Olivia Errico, William Krakower, and Allie Todd. Over the course of the semester, the team of students worked together to decide upon a theme, gather objects, create label text, develop an integrative activity, and install the exhibition as a whole. The installation date: April 1st. The final result: Rutgers-Camden, A Campus in Flux.

Lucy Davis offers an introductory summary of the exhibition.

From a single room in 1926 to a growing urban campus in 2019, Rutgers–Camden has been anything but static in its nearly century-long existence. The university opened as the South Jersey Law School, providing professional legal training to students in South Jersey – one of the first schools to serve this area. Campus soon expanded to include room for undergraduate classes and more professional program. In the school’s early years, graduating classes averaged around thirty students. Today, almost seven thousand students pursue degrees in seventy academic programs, soon to join our community of more than fifty thousand alumni.

Though we entered the Rutgers banner in 1950, our campus never lost its unique identity and culture, forged separate from that of our parent university. Through academic achievements, sports victories and losses, civic engagement, and campus events, students of Rutgers–Camden forged their own diverse community of scholars. And when forces threaten that community, as in an attempted 2012 merger with other nearby colleges to create a University of South Jersey, Rutgers–Camden students rallied to Keep Rutgers in South Jersey.

The exhibit Rutgers Camden: A Campus in Flux showcases some of the artifacts and images that tell this history, from our founding days into the present. Through four thematic cases and a companion book, we explore the history of our campus, the impact Rutgers–Camden has had on its students, and the changes students have made to their university, to Camden, and to the world.

Olivia Errico introduces and discusses the Community Building exhibit case she organized.

The Rutgers-Camden campus did not spring up overnight, and neither did the thriving network of relationships that make up the Rutgers-Camden community. Throughout the decades, Rutgers-Camden students have worked to create a stronger, more inclusive campus community. Through their efforts, students forged connections with other groups here in Camden, as well as with movements taking place across the country. These connections between students, faculty, staff, and the larger world helped create Rutgers-Camden as we know it today.

My favorite part of putting together this case was learning about the history of student activism on the Rutgers-Camden campus. One of the first things I was told when I started here, was that this was an apolitical campus, but looking at the history shows that that’s not true! Students in the past have been involved in national political movements, like the sit-in movement and the Vietnam War protests, as well as more local efforts, such as the action to stop the Rutgers-Camden and Rowan merger. I hope that this exhibit helps reveal some of this history and inspire student activism today.

My favorite object in the display is the “Fight Racism” flyer. It shows Rutgers-Camden students coming together to get involved in the wider community. I am also interested in how this flyer was made. It appears to have been photocopied onto the back of a unrelated campus communication; I imagine the students making these flyers working quickly and using whatever materials they could find to get the word out.

Allie Todd talks Events and Entertainment, the exhibit case she was in charge of.

Concerts, comedians, comic-cons: since it’s beginnings, Rutgers-Camden has hosted a wide variety of events to encourage student participation and socialization. So many university alumni, when asked about their college experience, claim that the years spent on campus were the best of their lives. The events and gatherings organized by student groups and faculty members play a large role in these memorable college experiences. At Rutgers-Camden, past and present events range from Greek Week to the International Food Festival, 24-hour film festivals to annual Prom dances. Rutgers-Camden has come up with many new and unique events to keep up with the changing interests and needs of the student body.

I really enjoyed treasure hunting through all of the memorabilia at the Campus Center, Dean’s Office, and Alumni House. It was awesome to sift through all of that history – this was my favorite part of putting together my case, and the others, as well.

My favorite object displayed in my case is the John Belushi and Danny Aykroyd poster – they’re some of my favorite comedians from my childhood and I was thrilled to find that poster.

Why a case on events and entertainment? The events that the school put son are so important for student morale and bonding. They are also a big draw for new students; going to a school that provides a lot of opportunities for events such as concerts is incentive to go to Rutgers!

 

William Krakower introduces his case that focuses on Athletics at Rutgers-Camden.            

Today, Rutgers-Camden offers seventeen men and women’s athletic teams for students to participate in. Rutgers athletics has an exciting past, filled with victory, defeat, and determination. I designed and developed this case with the purpose of honoring the various achievements of our athletics teams and department, as well as those to come.

I was very excited to display the various different types of uniforms used by the athletic department. We do so much here at Rutgers and an awesome example of that is the diversity we find in our school’s athletic uniforms and jerseys. Beyond that, I’ve displayed several uniforms from when we weren’t the Scarlet Raptors. Most students don’t realize that until 2000 we were the Pioneers! Our school’s development can be found in every case in this exhibit, and here we can see tangible evidence of those changes.

In addition to the uniforms, the exhibit showcases a series Scarlet Knights gear, golf paraphernalia, and other accouterments of Rutgers Athletics. The RU-Camden Scarlet Raptors nesting dolls are a favorite of mine.  They’re the type of thing I would like to have on my work desk.

Rutgers-Camden has more than sixty years of athletic achievement. I hope that when visitors see the case, they will see the accomplishments of Rutgers’ past, and ask themselves: what will you accomplish here? 

McKenna Britton and Ernest Arians teamed together to develop the Academics exhibit case. The two also served as co-project managers, leading their team in the development of the exhibition as a whole.

Ernie introduces the case’s theme, as well as the overall breadth of the exhibit.

Looking at the growth of Rutgers-Camden’s academic program gives us a well-rounded perception on the Universities’ adaptation to fit an ever-changing career field. As Rutgers began to grow to incubus more fields of study, th e institution was able to attract a more diverse student body, which would benefit the overall growth and prosperity of what we call Rutgers-Camden today. The items that are on display in the Library serve as a physical representation of how the academic program grew in size and complexity.

McKenna talks about favorites: their favorite part of the development process and their favorite objects.

I think Ernie and I both agree that our favorite part of putting together the exhibition with our teammates was the treasure hunting. We loved jumping from the Campus Center to the Alumni House, from Cal Maradonna’s office to Special Collections, pointing out things and grabbing others to be included in the display. It was so fun seeing what each place held in their possession, from foam football helmets and Scarlet Raptor bobbleheads to old university documents and Oktoberfest memorabilia.

In our case, my favorite objects are kind of weird: the tomato seeds Velcro-d to the backdrop on the top shelf, and the CD-rom cases from the IT help desk on the bottom shelf. I also really love the small dance card in Allie’s Events and Entertainment case. It’s on the very top shelf to the left, and it dates back to the 1930s. Together, these objects sort of embody the crazy broad range of memorabilia that our university has produced throughout the decades –and the fun that was had coming up with new ideas for these items.

Have you been in the library to see the students’ exhibits? If not, have no fear! Rutgers-Camden: A Campus in Flux will be on display through the summer months. Visit the exhibit in the library, support your history graduate students, and learn a little more about the history of Rutgers-Camden and the various genres of material culture the campus has produced throughout the years. Before you go, leave your mark on the exhibition: to the left of the cases sits a binder full of photographs that trace the evolution of our campus, organized and pieced together by Lucy Davis. After flipping through the visual aid, feel free to respond to the prompts that are included at the end of the binder. We want to hear from you: what makes Rutgers-Camden home to you? What can you, or have you, accomplished here? You’re already playing a tangible part in the history of the campus – by sharing your thoughts, you’re playing a tangible part in the exhibit, too.

 

Recent Grad Student Accomplishments

Rutgers-Camden’s graduate history students have been busy at work this semester! Read on to learn about all of their recent accomplishments and achievements. Be warned: the list is lengthy! 

  • On Monday, April 1, 2019, Dr. Wendy Woloson’s Museums in the Digital Age class met at the Paul Robeson Library to install their exhibit, Rutgers-Camden: A Campus in Flux. The class consists of six graduate students: Ernest Arians, McKenna Britton, Lucy Davis,Olivia Errico, Will Krakower, and Allie Todd. Together, the students developed an exhibit theme, gathered artifacts and images, and came together to install the finished project on the first floor of the library. The project will remain installed through the summer – stop by to learn all about the history of Rutgers-Camden campus culture!
  • On Tuesday, April 2, 2019, Dr. Cheryl LaRoche visited our campus to discuss the Underground Railroad for the opening event of the “Sanctuaries: Past into Present” Greater Philadelphia Roundtable seminar series. Prior to the lecture, community organizations and individuals presented exhibits of their Underground Railroad documents, artifacts, and stories. Graduate student Olivia Errico played a large role in the organization of this event, working as the program assistant for the event – formally titled, “In Search of the Underground Railroad” – and coordinating the pop-up exhibits prior to the lecture.
  • During the early weeks of March, a new exhibit was installed in the hallways of the MARCH house, titled Women at Work on Cooper Street. Graduate student McKenna Britton edited, designed, and installed five informational wall panels, drawing from research conducted by a group of history students during a previous semester, that tell the stories of a number of women who lived and worked along Cooper Street at the turn of the 20th century. Additionally, McKenna presented on the exhibit and its correlating research at “Currents of American Culture and Its Study,” the joint conference of the Eastern American Studies Association (EASA) and Society of Americanists (SOA), held in Harrisburg, PA, the weekend of March 29, 2019. 
  • In recent months, graduate student Lucy Davis conducted research about the Ephraim and Sarah Tomlinson House, which succeeded in placing it on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places. The building is now being considered for the National Register. 
  • Graduate student Amy Osterhout is coordinating The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia’s participation in the Philadelphia meeting of the Organization of American Historians, taking place this weekend, April 4 through April 7, 2019. 
  • Graduate student Will Krakower recently conducted property research to assist with an archaeological investigation of the vicinity of the Office of Civic Engagement prior to the creation of a community garden. 

We are so very proud of all of our students and their hard work. Congratulations on all of your achievements, history students! 

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Alaina Noland, Battleship New Jersey

Did you know? The Battleship New Jersey, docked on the Camden waterfront, is the most decorated battleship in Naval History. Doubling as a Museum and a Memorial, the Battleship offers daily walking-tours. If you visit the ship, make sure to keep an eye out for Alaina Noland, a Rutgers-Camden graduate and the Collections Manager at the Battleship.

ALL ABOARD!

The Graduate History Program here at Rutgers-Camden, professors and students alike, are always eager to hear how our alumni are getting on in the post-graduate world. When I heard of Ms. Noland’s success, I could hardly keep myself from asking hundreds of questions. To my excitement, Ms. Noland was more than happy to talk about her position at the Battleship with me, answering my queries with comforting backstory, positivity, and some solid advice for current students whose graduation dates are quickly approaching. 

Question: Firstly, I’d love to hear a little more about your position at the Battleship. How did you come across the position, and what kind of work are you currently engaging in? 

Answer: As Collections Manager, I am primarily in charge of the care/exhibition/use our objects collection and libraries. However, we are a fairly small museum so everyone here wears many hats. We also have a completely integrated Education and Curatorial Department, so I also help with education programs, events, and I still get tagged for tour guide duty when they need someone. The big projects on my plate right now are: cataloging our lending library so we can open it to the public this spring, helping design/build a museum exhibit that will be opening June 1st, writing a Collections Management Policy, and writing a tour/program examining the experiences of minorities in the Navy. 

Q: How did you come across the position, exactly? 

A: I feel like I have to give a little bit of backstory here. I had no background in Navy/military history and I knew nothing about ships at all when I graduated from Rutgers. After a fairly fruitless job search in the Philadelphia area failed to turn up a job, I expanded my search area and applied for an educator position at Historic Ships in Baltimore. I got that job and commuted back and forth for almost four months…it was a long few months! But during that time our site manager in Baltimore moved to Philadelphia to take over as curator on BB-62. He reached out last spring when the museum was hiring tour guides, and that is how I got my foot in the door here. From there I worked my way up to Archivist and then Collections Manager. 

Q: Do you feel as though your studies at Rutgers-Camden benefitted you, during both your job search and the handling of your current job duties?

A: I absolutely adore my job on the Battleship, and I 100% credit my getting it to the skills I learned at Rutgers-Camden. The importance of networking, building industry contacts, and having a varied work experience are all fundamentals that I learned in the graduate program and they have served me well out in the “real world”. 

Q: So many of the students here, including me, look at your story and see quite the post-graduate success. We can only hope to find a position that we love as you love the work you are doing at the Battleship! That being said, what kind of advice do you have for those of us graduating soon and entering the history-focused job world?

A: As far as advice for graduates, try not to get disheartened if you do not find a job right away. I still have two part-time museum jobs almost two years after graduation (I’m also the lead educator at Independence Seaport Museum). Try looking for positions outside of your comfort zone. I did not think I would enjoy archival/curatorial work, but I cannot imagine not doing it now. And make yourself indispensable once you find a position. Always step up when someone asks for help with a project/event/etc. Not only does it make a positive impression but you will absolutely learn something from the experience. Ask questions! You won’t look ignorant, you’ll look interested and that counts for a whole lot. 

Alaina’s advice offers me a lot of comfort – to hear of the evolution of her positions, how she had to push herself outside of her comfort zone, and how the results bring her happiness and inspire passion is such a positive story, especially with graduation looming ever nearer. And although I haven’t personally stepped onto the deck of the Battleship, Alaina’s passion for her work and her excitement about the Battleship is contagious – would anyone like to take a tour with me?

 

1918 Christmas at MARCH, Led By Grad Students

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities, also known as MARCH, is housed in a 19th century historic row-home. This year marks the third year of the center’s residency in the Cooper Street home, and the third year of holiday decorating. This December, Dr. Charlene Mires handed over leadership of the decorating project to Public History graduate student William Krakower, who volunteered vivaciously for the position of lead-decorator.

 William, along with fellow graduate students and other folks who assisted, sent the MARCH home back in time to 1918, the theme of the decorations being “1918: Christmas at Peace,” in honor of the conclusion of World War I. “The plan was for the house to feature traditional 1918 Christmas decorations, and other accoutrements referencing the return of the American Expeditionary Force, the Children’s Year Campaign, and the beginning of the Influenza Epidemic in the US,” Will shared with his team. “Coincidentally, these tie in very well with the University’s theme for their decorating contest: ‘Home for the Holidays.'” 

The fully decorated MARCH house made it to the final round of judging for the University’s contest, falling in with two other finalists.Chancellor Haddon visited the house today for another look at the 1918 theme; the results of the contest will be announced on Friday, December 14, at the Chancellor’s holiday party in the Campus Center, from 2:30-5:30pm. Our fingers are crossed for the MARCH house – awesome job putting this together, William! We are always so proud of the various activities our graduate students are involved in.