Welcome to Dr. Christine Angel’s “Hidden Heritage Collections” blog project currently taking place within the Division of Library and Information Science (DLIS) Graduate Program at St. John’s University (SJU). This site highlights cultural heritage artifacts processed by St. John’s DLIS students performing Academic Service-Learning (AS-L) work within Dr. Angel’s Organization of Information course. Within this service-learning platform, students are provided with the opportunity to gain experience within a variety of information organizations such as libraries, archives, and museums. The projects located within this blog provides public evidence of demonstrated student achievement in the organization and representation of information.

The purpose of the Hidden Heritage Collections project is threefold: First, through Academic Service-Learning projects, we assist various partner institutions in their efforts to process and permanently preserve their historical collections. Second, through publication on this blog, we endeavor to bring to light documents, records, photographs and other cultural artifacts from these collections that previously have been either unknown or unseen by the public at large. Finally, through the creation of sets of linked data, we tie together individual themes and projects to form larger, cumulative stories.

 Preserving the Past

 Our goal of preserving the past is carried out through partnerships between the Division of Library and Information Science (“DLIS”) at St. John’s University in New York City and various partner institutions (see “Community Partners” tab above for a comprehensive list of such institutions).  Members of the DLIS faculty and student body work closely with community partners in various capacities, including volunteering their time and/or incorporating their work into internships and Academic Service-Learning projects for course credit. DLIS representatives perform a broad array of tasks, such as processing existing collections, digitizing documents and other information objects, and generally working towards helping our partners to gain intellectual control over their holdings.

Increasing Access to Cultural Diversity

While much of our country’s historical record has been collected, examined and shared for large scale public consumption, a significant portion still remains hidden away in libraries, museums and archives, inaccessible to all but the most diligent researchers.  These hidden parts of history are waiting to be discovered and shared. Our second goal, through the creation of this website, is to give previously unseen documents, objects and collections the exposure they deserve, allowing them to be more fully incorporated into the historical record.

Linking Data Across Collections

Through the use of a carefully constructed tagging system, we hope to link together information from individual blog posts into a larger sets of data. For example, we have had the privilege to work on a large number of collections from the archives of the Paulist and Scalabrini Fathers pertaining to the concerted efforts of individual priests in their ministry to migrants through events such as the United States Civil War, the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, the Messina Earthquake of 1908, World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, and the passage of migrant and refugee rights legislation in the United States. As a result, these particular collections document the experiences of people migrating into the United States between the years 1861 to 1980 and, when linked together, weave a narrative which documents the history and development of immigration and immigration law, as well as the history and development of Catholicism, within the United States. 

We hope that you will find our blog to be both interesting and informative. Many individual students contribute blog posts, each highlighting a particular collection, project, theme or object with which the author has unique familiarity and expertise. “Project Sites” organize items by institution, while “Project Collections and Themes Tags” organize items by individual collections, as well as by topic.