The Muhlenberg Memories Project is a collaborative, team-oriented, and student-centered project that contributes to the democratization of knowledge creation and the accessibility and expression of the Muhlenberg community’s history.

It positions an archivist and documentary research professor as co-educators to teach students primary research skills, image ethics, and documentary storymaking.

Put simply, we research the archives to keep the past alive through stories.

Students work with Trexler Library archivist Susan Falciani Maldonado to research archival documents, newspapers, yearbooks, photographs, and ephemera.

In Dr. Kate Ranieri’s Documentary Research course, students work with her to develop short digital narratives of an individual’s life or an illuminating episode that gives prominence to the landscape, time, and social trends shaping an ordinary person.

Students use small frames to convey ever-larger pictures of truths about our Muhlenberg community.

The Muhlenberg Memories Project began as a conversation between an archivist and a professor. Susan Falciani Maldonado, six months into her position as Muhlenberg College’s archivist, had the privilege of receiving a previously hidden collection of letters to and from Muhlenberg students and alumni serving in the armed forces worldwide during World War II.

Processing that collection led to the incorporation of documents and photographs pertaining to the College’s Navy V-12 and V-5 Training Units (1943-1946), and culminated in the 2014-2015 academic year in a library exhibit and programming that reintroduced the Muhlenberg community to this period in its history.

Susan sought out Dr. Kate Ranieri, professor of Media and Communication, to ask if her Documentary Research students might be interested in creating a documentary about the V-12 program. That conversation led Susan and Dr. Kate to launch a research project that connected archival holdings about life on campus with interviews of Muhlenberg men enrolled in the V-12 program. Inspired by the interviews, Susan and Dr. Kate co-developed a robust Documentary Research course focused on Muhlenberg in the World War II era.

This project would not have been possible without the endlessly creative efforts of Anthony Dalton, Muhlenberg’s Digital Cultures Technologist: web and graphic designer, cameraman, and road warrior.

At its launch, Muhlenberg Memories Project was envisioned as a close study about campus life during World War II. Called Muhlenberg Narratives in the WW II Era, the project included a small collection of personal interviews of Muhlenberg men and richly varied student documentaries. The success of this initial endeavor has  propelled us to expand beyond the 1940s; hence, the more inclusive name,
the Muhlenberg Memories Project.