Student Spotlight: Meet Emily

At the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives, the staff has continued to share our many collections with Miami students, faculty, staff, and the greater Miami community. The work that is performed with our collections has been recognized by individuals and organizations around the world. Our staff have received many accolades while assisting students who made discoveries in the classroom or researchers who are using our materials for the first time. The work that our student assistants perform allows our staff to do a number of great things. These tasks are different from those of student employees in other areas of the library as they can involve using specific software, such as Adobe Lightroom, or searching through our catalog using advanced search strategies. There are three of our students who deserve to have a bit more recognition as they have graduated earlier in May 2021.

Meet Emily

Alia Levar Wegner, Digital Collections Librarian; Emily Garforth, Student Assistant; Cody Sprunger, Senior Library Technician. Photo submitted by Shawn Vanness.

Emily earned a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies. She comes from Solon, Ohio, a suburb outside Cleveland. She joined the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives in Fall 2018. Over the years, Emily has had her hands in a number of projects with our Special Collections Librarian, Rachel Makarowski, and our University Archivist, Jacky Johnson; however in 2019, she was able to be a part of a project that kept her engaged in many ways.

 Our Digital Collections Librarian, Alia Levar Wegner was in the beginning stages of curating materials for the Bearing Witness Exhibition with Cody Sprunger, our Senior Library Technician. She approached Emily to assist her in acquiring some materials and to keep a listing of contacts to borrow materials from. Right away Emily invested her time wholeheartedly. Her involvement started off on a small scale, but then she quickly became very instrumental in the creation of Bearing Witness and a concurrent exhibition, As We See It. Since she not only worked with us and was a Hillel Student Leader, she became the student liaison between Special Collections and University Archives and Hillel: Association of Jewish Students. Hillel is a student organization on Miami University’s campus that provides a wide variety of social, educational, community service, religious and cultural programming focusing on deepening the understanding of Jewish life and Jewish issues on campus. Emily’s passion for teaching others about the Jewish experience and her professionalism really shined when given this responsibility.

Poster for As We See It Exhibition. Photo submitted by Cody Sprunger.

While gathering information and materials for the Bearing Witness Exhibition, Cody re-discovered diaries that were kept by students of  a Miami University history professor, Dr. W.E. Smith, from 1942-1957. Ironically, Emily explored these same diaries during her visit to the department during her freshman year. Cody and Emily decided that these diaries should be displayed, but they wanted to do so in a more creative way. Emily thought that it would bring the WWII diaries to life. With WWII occurring between 1939-1945, students were bound to have more input into what everyday life was like during that time. Cody and Emily believed that it would be interesting to have two sets of diaries. One set from Dr. Smith’s classes and another set of diaries from current Jewish students and staff to share their experiences. Emily was in charge of securing the current diaries. Five students, including herself, and two faculty members agreed to submit diaries. These two sets of diaries formed the As We See It Exhibition. 

When Emily is not with us, she enjoys listening to music and teaching others about Jewish culture. She loves history and books as well. When asked why she joined us, she stated, “I was really interested in helping special collections in any way I could! I really enjoyed this type of work and so wanted to work here.”  A final thought that she had for us was:


“I’d just want to say thank you so much to Bill, Alia, Cody, Rachel, and Tiffany for making my years here so special and great”

-Emily Garforth

We’re happy that you chose to work with us. Thank you, Emily, for all that you’ve done!

Student Spotlight: Meet Anna

At the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives, the staff has continued to share our many collections with Miami students, faculty, staff, and the greater Miami community. The work that is performed with our collections has been recognized by individuals and organizations around the world. Our staff have received many accolades while assisting students who made discoveries in the classroom or researchers who are using our materials for the first time. The work that our student assistants perform allows our staff to do a number of great things. These tasks are different from those of student employees in other areas of the library as they can involve using specific software, such as Adobe Lightroom, or searching through our catalog using advanced search strategies. There are three of our students who deserve to have a bit more recognition as they have graduated earlier last month. 

Meet Anna

Anna Gyde in her graduation cap and gown with degree. Photo submitted by Anna Gyde.

Last month, Anna completed a Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communication and Political Science with a minor in Interactive Media Studies and Economics. Originally from Gahanna, Ohio, she joined the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives (“Spec” as it’s commonly referred to) at the beginning of the Spring 2019 semester. She was hired to join a small team of students who were responsible for digitizing the 38,811 pages that make up all volumes of the Recensio yearbooks as part of the W.E. Smith Family Charitable Trust grant project. The digitization process is more involved than one would expect. Not only are the pages scanned individually, but each page is also cropped and straightened. The last two students who were highlighted, Megan and Abby, were part of this same project.

When asked why she applied for a Student Assistant position, she stated, “Sophomore year I wanted to get a job. Rather than sit at a desk doing nothing or working in a busy dining hall, I wanted to be able to work on specific projects and be a little more stimulated on the job”.  During the Fall semester of 2020, she was enrolled in PRISM, a capstone for Strategic Communications. According to the creator of PRISM, Bill Brewer, this capstone “serves regional non-profit organizations’ marketing and communication needs while providing senior students experience in producing professional programs in a consulting capacity”. Anna’s team’s client was Miami University Libraries. The Libraries challenged the team to help them develop a strategic communication plan that would help solve an identified problem. Alia Levar Wegner was the contact person for this project. With the project coming to a close at the end of the Fall 2020 semester, Alia created the opportunity for Anna to continue the project to bring the team’s findings to life. The continuation of this project involved Anna’s knowledge of strategic communication coupled with her viewpoints as a current student. This helped shape the narrative of the Go Digital Initiative. The Go Digital Initiative focuses on featuring library digital resources of which our students can take advantage. Consulting with Anna has given Alia, along with the libraries’ strategic communications team, the information needed to advertise to a virtual patron in the college student demographic. There have been three videos that have been published so far on the Libraries’ website and on the Libraries’ YouTube Page.  

Outside of the department, Anna is quite the artist. She is normally painting or making digital drawings. She likes to track all of these on her Instagram page @lifebyannagrace. This summer she could be caught experiencing nature by hiking in parks. One fun fact about Anna is that she created, Women in Social Entrepreneurship, a student organization with her roommate. While building this group, they learned “from entrepreneurs and activists about non-profits and humanitarian orgs in our communities”. Since graduating, she will now be able to focus more on her career goal which is to continue her design and branding path that she has been able to experience with us at a more professional level. When asked to describe her experience with us, she replied:

“Thanks for creating such a welcoming environment! Everyone in Spec is so kind and so eager to help out. I really appreciate the attention to growth and the dedication to making my (and everyone’s) experience positive and educational! My time here has been so impactful.”

-Anna Gyde

We’re happy that you chose to work with us. Thank you, Anna, for all that you’ve done for us! We will miss you terribly!

Student Spotlight: Meet Abby

At the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives, the staff has continued to share our many collections with Miami students, faculty, staff, and the greater Miami community. The work that is performed with our collections has been recognized by individuals and organizations around the world. Our staff have received many accolades while assisting students who made discoveries in the classroom or researchers who are using our materials for the first time. The work that our student assistants perform allows our staff to do a number of great things. These tasks are different from those of student employees in other areas of the library as they can involve using specific software, such as Adobe Lightroom, or searching through our catalog using advanced search strategies. There are three of our students who deserve to have a bit more recognition as they have graduated earlier last month. 

Meet Abby

Abby Lebovitz in her graduation cap and gown. Photo submitted by Abby Lebovitz.

Last month, Abby completed a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Humanities and a minor in Archeology. Originally from Granville, Ohio, Abby joined the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives (“Spec” as it’s commonly referred to) at the beginning of the Spring 2021 semester. She was hired to join a small team of students who were working on the W.E. Smith Family Charitable Trust grant project. (This is the same grant that our previously highlighted student, Megan, was working on.) Abby began working to crop the digitized pages of the course catalogs from Miami University (The Bulletin), Western College for Women, and Oxford Female College. Cropping allows for our virtual researchers to view a clear page. These catalogs list all courses provided during academic years, with our earliest copy beginning in 1826 for Miami University, 1854 for Western College for Women, and 1849 for Oxford Female College. These have been imperative to researchers who are studying trends in education and for those who are curious about the courses a relative (such as a parent or grandparent) may have taken while attending Miami, Western, or Oxford College. With the yearbooks also available online through our Digital Collections, our virtual researchers can find pictures of their parents, grandparents, and other friends and family and see the organizations and teams that they were involved with.

Another project that Abby had been working on for our Digital Collections involved creating descriptive metadata for digitized postcards in our Bowden Postcard Collection. Over 650,000 postcards have been compiled to create the Bowden Postcard collection. As described in her interview above, Abby used a standardized vocabulary when describing each postcard and transcribed the handwritten messages on the back of each one. Abby’s work makes these postcards easily discoverable and searchable. 

Outside of her work in the department, Abby enjoys sewing, crocheting, video games, cooking, volunteering at animal shelters, and going to museums. When asked why she was interested in working with us, she stated, “I wanted to gain experience in archives and learn what parts of the museum field I want to pursue later in my career.” After graduating, she would like “to work in the archives of a museum or historic organization, helping to ensure that histories far and near are remembered and accessible for the future.” When asked about her experience with us, she said:

“The staff are so welcoming. Even though I’ve only worked here for one semester (and only half of the time in the Spec offices because of the pandemic), I’ve felt more at home here than I have at any job I’ve had before. I feel appreciated and wanted and that drives me to provide the best results that I possibly can!”

-Abby Lebovitz

We’re happy that you chose to work with us. Thank you, Abby, for the work you’ve done with us. We will miss you very much!

Educator, Writer, Activist, Leader: Meet Dr. Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins

Get to know our spring 2021 commencement speaker

One of the many fascinating collections that the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives holds is that of Dr. Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins. Dr. Jefferson-Jenkins, a 1974 Western College for Women graduate, is a social historian and activist, and is considered to be a scholar in the areas of suffrage, education, health care reform, and equality and inclusion for women. 

Inspired by her grandmother’s work as a teacher, Dr. Jefferson-Jenkins pursued a career in education. She worked for many years as a public school teacher and administrator, and is currently serving as an adjunct assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Jefferson-Jenkins has also been deeply involved with the League of Women Voters for many years. She was elected as the 15th national president of the League of Women Voters in 1998; the first woman of color to hold the position. She also served as the chair of the League of Women Voters Education Fund, advocated for election reform, as well as campaign finance reform, and she worked towards putting focus on local elections, while also increasing the number of voters who participated in all elections. 

In addition, Dr. Jefferson-Jenkins is an author. She has contributed her writings to numerous journals and books over the years, however some of the works she is best known for include: The Road to Black Suffrage, One Man One Vote: The History of the African-American Vote in the United States, and The Untold Story of Women of Color in the League of Women Voters

On March 12, 2020, Dr. Jefferson-Jenkins was awarded the Freedom Summer of ‘64 Award from Miami University. The award honors leaders who strive to advance civil rights and social justice in America.

Dr. Jefferson-Jenkins will also be the featured speaker at Miami University’s spring 2021 commencement ceremony. If you want to learn more about this inspirational woman, please view the video below: “Rise and Advocate: The Power of the Vote.” The presentation was created using primary materials from the Dr. Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins collection that is housed in the archives, as well as the oral history interview she gave for our Western College Memorial Archives collection, which can be found in our digital collections here: https://digital.lib.miamioh.edu/digital/collection/western/id/5/rec/1 

AAPI Heritage Month 2021 Exhibition

May is Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. To recognize this celebration of heritage here at Special Collections and University Archives, our reading room features a new exhibition curated by our student assistant, Carson Minter. If you are interested in finding resources to learn more about AADPI cultures, our cases feature personal narratives, informational books, instructional works, and stunning pages of literature that are bound to aid your understanding. The exhibition sources also cover both unique elements of Asian and Pacific cultures as well as their cross section with our culture here in the United States.

There are a couple of fantastic sources that feature unique and attention grabbing content that we want to draw special attention to: 

Journey to Topaz by Yoshiko Uchida [PS3571.C247 J68 1971]

Journey To Topaz– Yoshiko Uchida’s work depicts a truly touching narrative of a Japanese American family’s life under the WWII American prison camps. Showcasing both the ugliness of racism and the beauty of interpersonal communities and friendships, Uchida’s work has become a widely acclaimed classic piece of literature for the mid-late 20th century. Additionally, the copy featured in this month’s collection is a first edition.

Earth and the Moon (Chikyū to tsuki) by
Yūsuke Ōno [N7433.4.O56 E37 2018]

Earth and the Moon = Chikyū to tsuki- Earth and the Moon, a dynamically designed picture book by Yūsuke Ōno, is one of Special Collections’ two 360 degree picture books. As their name implies, these books are able to be opened a full 360 degrees, cover to cover. This way, the books form a full, panoramic display of their subject matter, and in this case, it is a lively diorama of the Earth and the Moon!

Flower Arrangement Art of Japan- If you’re looking for a more informational and instructional piece, Flower Arrangement Art of Japan by Mary Cokely Wood is a translated piece of literature dissecting the elements of floral organization found within beautiful Japanese gardens. From Bonsai tree clippings to Iris bouquets, Wood’s work is the perfect cross section between Japanese culture and budding botanists.

Illustration of a keikwa arrangement of branches of a cheery tree. Flower Arrangement Art of Japan by Mary Cokely Wood [SB450 .W66 1952]

Though we are holding this exhibition of inspiring work for AAPI Heritage Month, we here at the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives also want to take a moment to recognize and condemn the rise of hate crimes to Asian-Americans and other minorities here in the United States. We also echo Miami University’s stance in solidarity with our AAPI communities in this country. We are, and continue to be, a country that thrives by the hard work and contributions made by people from every corner of the globe. Diversity is America’s greatest asset, and we believe treating everyone with respect and dignity can only lead to empowerment of that asset.

As shown by Congress’ recent signing of the Anti Asian-Americans Hate Crime Bill last month, standing in solidarity with minorities in America and protesting the social injustice that affects them each and every day can lead to true, lasting change. Let us continue the fight so more of these kinds of bills and laws come to protect minorities in America. 

An Injustice to one of us is an injustice to all of us. Happy AAPI Heritage Month from Special Collections and Archives. 

If you are interested in finding ways to make a difference but don’t know where to start, consider checking out some of these resources to get started: 

Asian Mental Health Collective is an organization that seeks to both destigmatize mental health within Asian communities and make mental health care more accessible to the Asian community as well. Injustice carries many psychological side-effects, and mental health care is the best way to fight against it. 

Stop AAPI Hate is a non-profit charity constructed in response to the recent surge of Asian hate crimes in the United States. The program itself is run by Chinese for Affirmative Action, and their goal is to protect Chinese Americans across the nation. 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice is an organization meant to help expand knowledge and education of rights and laws that can help protect Asian Americans.

Race Forward is an organization looking to help American minorities reclaim social equity in hopes of a better future. They are also home to GARE, the Government Alliance on Race and Equity, and uses donations to fund programs and conferences to push forward conversations about race.

The Equal Justice Initiative is another prestigious organization looking to end racial inequality by pushing for an end of mass incarceration and needlessly brutal punishments in the United States justice system.

SAALT, or South Asian Americans Leading Together is a nonprofit organization meant to help elevate voices of Desi Americans to lead to a more inclusive society. Running for nearly 20 years, the organization is proud of their history and the inclusive society they hope to achieve.



Student Spotlight: Meet Megan

By Tiffany Dogan, Library Associate

At the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives, the staff has continued to share our many collections with Miami students, faculty, staff, and the greater Miami community. The work that is performed with our collections has been recognized by individuals and organizations around the world. Our staff have received many accolades while assisting students who made discoveries in the classroom or researchers who are using our materials for the first time. The work that our student assistants perform allows our staff to do a number of great things. These tasks are different from those of student employees in other areas of the library as they can involve using specific software, such as Adobe Lightroom, or searching through our catalog using advanced search strategies. Some of these tasks are very specific to projects that are being funded by grants. We hire our student assistants based on their skills and interests so that they can enjoy the work that they are doing and see the impact that their work has had on researchers who use our materials.  Some of our student employees even learn to use the cutting edge technology in our new Digital Imaging Lab. Since the lab was founded in 2019, students have produced almost 250,000 images using our new Phase One iXG camera system. This area has made it possible for us to digitize all volumes of the Recensio (Miami University’s Yearbook) and Multifaria (Western College of Women’s Yearbook), in addition to many materials requested by our researchers on various subjects. These high-resolution images are intended for long-term preservation. We are pleased to spotlight one of our students, Megan Snyder, who has been helping with these projects and more.

Meet Megan

Megan is a junior majoring in History with a Museum Studies minor. She is originally from Kansas, but comes to us from Saint Paris, Ohio. She joined the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives in Fall 2019. She was hired to join a small team of students who were responsible for digitizing the 38,811 pages that make up all volumes of the Recensio yearbooks as part of the W.E. Smith Family Charitable Trust grant project. The digitization process is more involved than one would expect. Not only are the pages scanned individually, but each page is also cropped and straightened. Megan’s attention to detail ensures that all the pages have been scanned and are in the correct order. Megan also creates metadata for our digitized materials and conducts research on the publication history of these materials. The grant project also included the Mulifaria yearbooks, which Megan was a part of from start to finish. Her excitement was infectious while digitizing these pages. She was able to see how women were thriving by being offered opportunities for a number of experiences at Western College for Women. Megan’s work has continued with the digitization of Miami University’s course catalog, The Bulletin, which lists all courses provided during academic years, with our earliest copy beginning in 1826. These have been imperative to researchers who are studying trends in education and for those who are curious about the courses a relative (such as a parent or grandparent) may have taken while attending Miami. With the yearbooks also being available online through our Digital Collections, our virtual researchers can find pictures of their parents, grandparents, and other friends and family and see the organizations and teams that they were involved with. 

Outside of the department, Megan is very much a history enthusiast and has shared with us her experiences as a WWII reenactor. Aside from her love of history, Megan is also an accomplished seamstress. She has not only spent time making her own masks at home and in the Makerspace at King Library, but she has also created a number of clothing of various eras, but specifically WWII. When asked why she joined us, she stated, “I wanted to gain experience in archives and learn what parts of the museum field I want to pursue later in my career.” Her plans after Miami consist of becoming either a Museum Curator or Archivist or obtain “a career that pursues historical research”.

We’re happy that you chose to work with us. Thank you, Megan, for all that you do!

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