Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

Three students are working on an oral history project that will document the education and life experiences of African-American and women students at Lafayette from the late 1960’s to early 1970’s. The overall project is expected to last several years.

College Archivist Diane Shaw and Kristen Turner, assistant college archivist, are supervising EXCEL Scholars Vivienne Felix ’03, a double major in International Affairs and English from Hollis, N.Y.; Kamaka Martin ’04, a history and government & law major from Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Amanda Roth ’04, a double major in philosophy and gender and racial issues from Easton, Pa.

The students are receiving training in oral history that includes a daylong workshop with Pamela Whitenack, Hershey Company archivist; a lecture by Robert Weiner, Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Professor of History, using the Jews of Dijon, France, as a case study; and several sessions with Lafayette faculty on the uses and importance of oral history. After initial training, the students will select and interview the alumni.

Felix and Martin will focus on the experiences of African-American students.

“EXCEL work on this project will afford these students a very special opportunity to explore in depth an important period of social change at Lafayette College as well as in America in general,” says Shaw. “They will no doubt make discoveries that will resonate with their coursework as well as with their own experiences as African-American students.”

Roth, who has worked as an assistant for the women’s studies department, will focus on the first groups of women students at Lafayette, which became coeducational in 1970.

“Amanda’s coursework and interest in issues related to women will serve her well in her work on this project,” says Shaw. “The project will afford her the opportunity to gain experience in the art and practice of oral history. In addition, it will deepen her understanding of women’s issues, particularly as they relate to higher education, and expand her knowledge of the history of Lafayette College.”

Gerald Gill ’70, associate professor of history at Tufts University, will deliver a keynote address for the project by discussing his Lafayette experiences and research in higher education for African-Americans 7 p.m. Monday, March 4, in the Kirby Hall of Civil Rights auditorium. He will talk about what it was like to be one of a few African-American students at an all-male school, as well as the origins and early activities of the Association of Black Collegians, including its role in increasing recruitment of African American students, faculty and staff, the establishment of courses in African-American and African studies, and the creation of the Black Cultural Center (now David A. Portlock Black Cultural Center). Free and open to the public, the lecture is sponsored by Skillman Library.

Gill was a founder and later coordinator for ABC. In addition, he was a member and committee chair of the Student Council during his sophomore, junior, and senior years. He received his bachelor’s degree as a history major and earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Howard University, Washington, DC, in 1974 and 1985, respectively. He is researching the history of the civil rights movement in Boston in 1935-1970. Gill received the Distinguished Service Award from the African-American Center at Tufts University in 2000, and among his many other honors, he was named the Massachusetts College Professor of the Year in both 1995 and 1999.

Gill’s publications include his Dissent, Discontent, and Disinterest: Afro-American Opposition to the United States Wars of the Twentieth Century (University of North Carolina Press, forthcoming), and a long list of articles and book chapters. He has made numerous radio and TV appearances. Gill is a member of eight professional associations, including the American Historical Association, and has worked as a consultant for media companies, several PBS series, and a number of documentary film projects.

Categorized in: Academic News