UWM Archives Supported Research for New Campus Diversity History Book

photo of Derek Webb, Jamee Pritchard, and Abigail Nye
Archives staff who assisted Telling Our Stories' authors conduct research included, from left, Derek Webb, head of Archives; Jamee Pritchard, graduate intern; and Abigail Nye, reference and instruction archivist.

The authors of a newly published book, “Telling Our Stories: A History of Diversity at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1956-2022,” relied heavily on the collections and staff of the UWM Archives.

The book chronicles the contributions of the diverse voices and communities that have enriched the university since its founding. It was edited by Chia Youyee Vang, UWM Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Professor of History, and David J. Pate, Jr., Associate Professor and Chair of the UWM Department of Social Work, and written by 22 current and former UWM faculty and staff.

Archivists supported the authors by recommending specific collections to research, and provided access to those records, which ranged from those of the Office of the Chancellor to the UWM Post, a student newspaper.

UWM Libraries Reference and Instruction Archivist Abigail Nye says the variety of resources was important: “When we tell history, it’s essential to put different voices in conversation with each other. Narrating a story of diversity at UWM must include the voices of students, faculty, staff, and the wider community.”

Many more Archives records were explored. Here is a sampling: UWM Photographic Services, LGBT Resource Center, Equal Opportunity Office, Roberto Hernandez Center, Student Affairs Office of the Assistant Chancellor, Office of the Dean of Students, and Faculty and Staff Biographical Files.

Both librarians and researchers made many interesting, and sometimes amusing, discoveries during the project. For example, Nye says, “we learned that the UWM Children’s Center was the brainchild of SHREW: Sisters Hellbenton Relevant Educational Welfare.”

The project was mutually helpful in other ways. “Chia Vang, who co-wrote the the chapter, ‘Asian Americans: A Force for Diversity, Scholarly Contributions, and Innovation,’ is giving oral histories she conducted for her research to the Archives,” Nye says.

Researchers were able to offer more finding terms to be added the Archives finding aid, enriching future scholarship. And the research done on veterans and Southeast Asian students revealed gaps in the Archives’ collections that will be filled, says Derek Webb, head of Archives.

UWM Chancellor Mark Mone hosted a book launch of “Telling Our Stories” on September 27 in the Golda Meir Library, with over 200 guests celebrating the editors and authors.