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34

LYCOMING COLLEGE 2015 SPRING MAGAZINE

F E AT U R E S

he Lycoming County Women’s History Collection project began in 2005 with

three goals: to research the lives and contributions of women in this area and

to share their stories with the world through digitized primary documents; to

bring together cultural heritage institutions in Williamsport to make this possible; and to

secure outside funding to staff the project and pay for expenses related to the endeavor.

The project stemmed from growing interest in the Williamsport community

concerning the importance of the roles that women played throughout the nineteenth

and early twentieth centuries. There was also an expanding need to provide primary

research materials on women’s history to scholars, genealogists, history enthusiasts,

and students at various educational levels.

Snowden Library partnered with the Lycoming County Historical Society and with

James V. Brown Library, and applied for an LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act)

grant. We were awarded a planning grant, and our research soon made it obvious

that rare photographs, newspaper articles, diaries, correspondence, record books, and

college materials such as scrapbooks and annuals were available in the Lycoming College

Archives and the two partnering cultural heritage institutions. With the overall theme

of “Williamsport Women: Words, Images, Actions,” the project was furthered through

a second LSTA grant that provided money for digitization of the primary documents

the partners held. We were fortunate enough to obtain additional LSTA funding with a

third grant which funded the digitization of important documents held by the Alumni

Association of the Williamsport Hospital School of Nursing, the Williamsport Home

(that held materials from its early founding as the Home for the Friendless), and the

local YWCA. Further interest is obvious in other ways, with additional money given by

private donors increasing the total of outside funding to almost $100,000.

As the project continued, Dr. Amy Rogers ’92, assistant professor in the education

department, created a curriculum guide based on the materials, for use in school

students at the middle and high school levels. She has introduced it to several of the

local school districts.

Use of the online collection has

soared, with an average of 1,000 queries

each month and over 120,000 hits over

the course of the project. Although

the site is hosted on the Lycoming

College website, many searchers locate

the materials through search engines

such as Google. The collection has also

become known to researchers through

presentations by librarians at regional

and national conferences, and has

been the subject of articles in several

journals. The series “Williamsport

Women” in the Williamsport Sun-

Gazette was inspired by the materials

in the database and has attracted

considerable attention from readers.

Mary Sieminksi serves as the

projector manager with the guidance

of the director of library services

and a community-wide advisory

council. Sieminski continues to

identify more women’s groups and

papers that should be represented in

this vital area of research. Women’s

history has found its rightful place in

Williamsport’s story with the benefit

of the digital age.

WOM E N ’ S H I S TO RY COM E S A L I V E

The Lycoming County Women’s History Collection Project

By Janet McNeil Hurlbert, Professor Emeritus of the Library, Lycoming College

T

The collection can be found online at

http://www.lycoming.edu/orgs/lcwhc/index.html