University of Nebraska-Lincoln history students will continue their History Harvest project by collecting stories from Italian-Americans about their culture and experience during a “harvest” at Omaha’s Santa Lucia Hall on Sunday, Oct. 28.
The project, which is part of the class titled “History 396: Special Problems: The History Harvest,” allows students to dive into the history and culture of Italian-Americans.
Paige McCoy, a senior history and classics and religious studies double major said the project will involve going into the community at the Santa Lucia Hall, where they have invited community members from Little Italy to “bring in their artifacts, documents and stories.”
“Our goal is to collect as many of their stories as we can, and piece together that history in a digital archive format,” Simone Droge, junior English and history double major, said in an email.
Droge said that this year’s motto is “bring an object with a story,” which encourages the group to emphasize oral interviews with the community.
McCoy said she is excited about the project coming to life on Sunday.
The group will then digitize and save the stories on the project’s website.
Their long-term goal, according to the website, is to make “invisible histories and materials more visible by working with and within local communities to collect, preserve and share previously unknown or under-appreciated artifacts and stories.”
This is made possible at the Santa Lucia Hall because the group is focusing on the Italian-American community of Nebraska, according to Droge.
“Our professor, who has Italian roots, is Dr. Gerald Steinacher,” she said. “He has been guiding us using his knowledge of the history and connections with the Italian-American community of Omaha.”
McCoy said the group has also read about the history of Italians in America, which helped them understand their subjects instead of coming into the project blindly.
She said they have been working on marketing and publicizing the event.
This work on publicity gave the students experience with both making and designing posters and writing a press release.
“My personal long-term goal is to take away skills that are applicable to my digital humanities minor,” Droge said. “I also want to contribute to something that will be long-lasting.”
The women are excited for Sunday, but Droge said it is also when issues could arise.
“We will likely face our biggest challenges when we set up for the Harvest, as we are working in a satellite location and have to transport our equipment we use for the digitization process,” she said.
Challenges in tow, both women said they are excited to begin their work on the Harvest and continue their learning about the Italian-American experience.
“I am most looking forward to connecting what we have learned and read in class to what we will experience at the Harvest,” Droge said. “Hopefully, we will have a great turnout on Sunday, and we can provide a space which will shine light on histories that have been previously invisible to the public.”