Aerial view of campus with Williamsport, the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Mountain as a backdrop

Lycoming College hosts event with focus on local women in history

Lycoming College hosts event with focus on local women in history

The cover of Julia C. Collins's book, "The Curse of Caste."

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The Lycoming College Department of Education and John G. Snowden Memorial Library will host “Taking Local Women's History into Today's Classrooms,” in honor of Women’s History Month, on Thursday, March 19, at 4 p.m. in Snowden Library.

This event will showcase the work of Julia C. Collins and her book, “The Curse of Caste,” as well as the Lycoming County Women’s History Collection. Shannon Bolin '15, Savannah Hanford '15 and Janelle Ziminski '15 will read a few selections of Collins’ novel and share lesson plans and presentations that they created utilizing historical and literary elements found in Collins’s novel.

Bolin recently presented her research and curriculum guide at the Middle States Council of Social Studies Conference in February. She worked with Amy Rogers, Ph.D., professor of education, to conduct and present her research.

Collins was an essayist, teacher and author. Her work, “The Curse of Caste,” is considered by scholars to be the first novel published by an African American woman. The novel and a group of essays were published while Collins was a school teacher in Williamsport during 1864 and 1865, at the height of the Civil War. Starting in January 1865, Collins began publishing chapters of “The Curse of Caste” weekly in the Christian Recorder, a national publication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Unfortunately, Collins died of tuberculosis in 1865 before she finished the novel. Her life and writings provide a glimpse into the rarely documented experiences of nineteenth-century African American woman, their families, and their communities.

The project is a cooperative effort of Lycoming College's Snowden Library, the James V. Brown Library, and the Lycoming County Historical Society. Other partners include the Williamsport Home, the Williamsport Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association, and the YWCA of Northcentral Pennsylvania. The Julia C. Collins project of the Lycoming County Women’s History Collection was sponsored in part by a grant from the Woodcock Foundation for the Appreciation of the Arts.

The Lycoming County Women’s History Collection is an online archive of source material relating to the history of women in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. This collection, all from local archives, includes, but is not limited to, photographs, correspondence, minute books, diaries, scrapbooks, recipe books and newspaper stories. The documents highlight the history of local women in volunteer and reform organizations, education, the arts, the workplace, and in their private lives. The majority of the materials are from 1875-1925.

The Taber Museum of the Lycoming County Historical Society invites you to the unveiling of the "Women of Distinction" issue of the West Branch Life magazine, on Friday, March 27, from 6-8 pm. There will be brief remarks and a magazine signing by Mary Sieminski. R.S.V.P. appreciated, 570.326.3326. Sales of the magazine will benefit the museum.

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