Black at Bryn Mawr is a collaborative project started by Bryn Mawr students Emma Kioko ’15 and Grace Pusey ’15 in the Fall of 2014 and aided by the guidance and support of Monica Mercado (CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow and Director, The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education) and Sharon Ullman (Chair, Department of History).
The project was born out of several community-wide conversations that occurred after two students hung a Confederate flag in their dormitory in September 2014, an incident which drew national media attention when more than 550 students, staff, and faculty gathered to protest the flag and demonstrate their commitment to changing Bryn Mawr’s legacy of unsafety for marginalized groups.
The purpose of Black at Bryn Mawr is to build institutional memory of the College’s engagement with race and racism, enabling future students to hold both themselves and the College community to higher standards of awareness and accountability to racial power dynamics inside and outside of the classroom. It explores the experiences of Black students, faculty, and staff at the College from its founding in 1885 to the present day.
Initial Black at Bryn Mawr research took places as part of a Spring 2015 Praxis III Independent Study course designed by Emma and Grace with the goal of developing a campus walking tour with a digital historical record. Using Bryn Mawr College Special Collections as well as primary sources archived outside of the College, Emma and Grace began to analyze the ways in which Bryn Mawr College has chosen to record, remember, and represent racism in its history. Using the College archives, they identified spaces of both racial conflict and conversation on campus.
Emma and Grace posted updates to the Black at Bryn Mawr blog weekly as the project developed during the Spring semester. In April 2015 they launched the first Black at Bryn Mawr walking tour; to date, more than 200 members of the college community and neighbors have experienced the tour (see the Project Events page for more details). A virtual tour is now available online, in beta:
During the Summer of 2015, Grace Pusey continued this research with the support of a Museum Studies internship from the Bryn Mawr College Provost’s office, culminating in a two-day Fall Break workshop co-sponsored by the Greenfield Digital Center and the Pensby Center.
Project advisor Monica Mercado used the Black at Bryn Mawr project in her teaching, research, and archives outreach during the 2015-2016 academic year. The project has also inspired the mission of a new working group organized for the 2016 meeting of the National Council on Public History, “Campus History as Public History.” The project, we argue, can be model for research and action in the small liberal arts college community.
Although the project is currently offline, constructive feedback is encouraged, and readers can reach the project organizers via Bryn Mawr College Special Collections (SpecColl@brynmawr.edu), which will maintain this website so that it can continue to serve as an important part of making Black history at Bryn Mawr more accessible to the public.
updated January 2017
[Header Image Credit: “Perry House Students ca. 1975,” Vintage Bryn Mawr, accessed February 5, 2015.]