I knew what I wanted my exhibit to be about on the first day of class. As we were going through the syllabus, I saw that we would be creating an exhibit about whatever aspect of the Women’s March interested us. As I do with most of my class projects, I immediately thought of ways that I could focus on clothing or costumes. From that class forward, I kept a word document with ideas and relevant quotes that came up throughout the semester. The questions that drove me from the beginning were: “What do you wear to a protest? Who does or doesn’t display their messages on their body? What do those messages convey?” Over the last few months, those questions have evolved into the finished exhibit “What They Wore.” Our class did a successful job of walking us through all the necessary steps for me to go from an idea about protest clothing to a finished online exhibit with oral histories to back it up. The beginning of the semester was a little slow, as we mostly focused on academic articles about archives and oral histories. While it was important that we gained the background about these methods of gathering and storing information, it became slightly repetitive. The best part of our course was being so hands on; we got to work on our projects and discuss them in class. This was possible due to our small class size, but I think that we lost out on scope because there were only five of us. I wish that we could have focused more on protest on Muhlenberg’s campus, because it more directly relevant to a Muhlenberg-based archive. While we were aware that our oral history subjects were not very diverse, we did not have enough time to conduct more interviews with a wider range of narrators.
I leave this class wondering if our research will be used in the future. Maybe if our archive is advertised widely with the rest of Muhlenberg’s online archive, students and faculty will start using it as a resource for research. When I personally start research, I do it through the subject guides that are linked on the library’s website, instead of on the actual library’s website. I don’t know how many studies will be done on specifically the Women’s March of 2017, but hopefully all the effort that we put into learning these processes and compiling our work will be useful to others. I enjoyed the oral history aspect of this project, but I still feel it is slightly outdated. Even though we read articles about how important these recordings are, I still have that small part of my brain that thinks of them as an old-fashioned way to collect information. I need to work to counteract these thoughts, because I appreciate that they can give those without a platform a way to be heard and remembered. In general, I am glad to be leaving my exhibit behind when I graduate, because it is a project I wouldn’t have expected of myself, since it came from a Media and Communications course instead of a Theatre one.