Community Learning

Trinity’s Public Humanities Collaborative Announces Summer 2022 Teams

The Public Humanities Collaborative (PHC) is pleased to announce 5 teams of students, faculty and community partners for Summer 2022. Over the last four years, we have seen how the PHC gives students the opportunity to engage with multiple methods and contexts for creating new knowledge in the humanities by participating in small teams that work on faculty scholarship, community public humanities projects, and meet regularly to learn about community collaboration and digital tools. We wanted to ensure that these opportunities would continue this year, despite challenges presented by the COVID pandemic. From over 40 applicants, PHC selected 10 students to work in a flexible, hybrid program on 5 faculty research projects and 5 public humanities projects with Hartford-area organizations. Each student is set to receive a $4500 stipend, on-campus housing, opportunities to attend workshops, field trips and community events in Hartford as well as research and digital support throughout the program.

For the length of the program, students split their full-time work between faculty projects and community partner projects, learning about multiple facets of academic and public humanities-based work. Students engage in practices including archival research, oral history interviewing and indexing, digital storytelling, web content creation, and planning for public programs and performances. This year, with support from Trinity’s Digital Scholarship and Educational Technology staff, we will implement a weekly reflective workshop component for students, panels on careers and future education in the humanities, as well as individualized and small group support to design digital portfolios. These reflection and portfolio components will allow students to make meaning of and showcase their work at the end of the summer. All students, faculty, community partners and PHC affiliates will also be invited to attend weekly lunch-and-learn workshops covering a variety of topics including workflow and project management strategies, digital tools in the public humanities, and trips to humanities organizations in the Hartford area.

Join us in welcoming the Summer 2022 teams below.


Olmstead 200 and Hartford Urban Ecology
Eloise Gerry ’25, Jeremias Vazquez ’23, Professor Susan Masino, and community partner Herb Virgo, Keney Park Sustainability Project

Faculty Component: Olmsted 200 – Celebrating History and Health in Hartford, with Professor Susan Masino
This Public Humanities Collaborative project will focus on celebrating the Olmsted 200 anniversary in Hartford with public education and outreach as well as helping to assemble a forthcoming edited volume: Olmsted’s Brain: Discovering Health in Urban Spaces and Wild Places. (tentative title). The edited volume will include chapters on Nature and Health, case studies and projects in Connecticut, and selected student essays submitted as part of a national contest. It may involve setting up an outdoor exhibit related to Olmsted at cultural events. This project will also include site visits and public walks on Olmsted landscapes and will be related to the new Global Health and Human Ecology Experiential Certificate. Together we expect these activities will showcase the importance of Olmsted and his commitment to beauty, health and democracy.

Community Component: Keney Park Urban Ecology Trail with community partner Herb Virgo, Keney Park Sustainability Project Urban Ecology Wellness Center
The theme of this public humanities project is to highlight Keney Park as a case study that integrates health and ecology. One specific goal is developing an urban ecology trail and associated documentation, signage and website content. This trail will provide public education and will be a key part of the Urban Ecology Wellness Center. The Urban Ecology Wellness Center is an integrated community initiated program that combines wellness and urban ecology services to reconnect people to the healing power of nature. Keney Park is an Olmsted landscape and a crown jewel in Hartford, CT with a stream, vernal pools, grasslands, and old forests. It is next to a unique state park with sand dunes and rare habitat. Showcasing all of these elements is an opportunity to connect the community with the natural world. We hope that this project can lead into further web-based resources and future coursework or projects for college students so we can continue to highlight and improve access and provide information and wellness to the public. The student researchers will do a combination of field work (documentation, geolocating), research on the specific features, and develop content (literature, web, etc).


Humanizing History at Old-New Gate Prison
Zoë Gill ’23, Madison Wilson ’23, Professor Glenn Falk and community partner Morgan Bengel, Old-New Gate Prison

Faculty Component: American Prison History and the Roots of Mass Incarceration, with Professor Glenn Falk
Research Project: Why are American sentences of incarceration substantially longer than those in other Western democracies? Why does the death penalty persist in the United States when it has been abolished almost everywhere else? What role has race played in these disparities? In an effort to answer these questions, students will organize, transcribe, and analyze several archival collections from the late eighteenth through the early twentieth centuries, including trial court and prison records, newspaper accounts, petitions for clemency and early release, and files on methods of execution such as hanging and the electric chair. These resources will provide insights into popular opinion over time and the role of crime and punishment in American culture, as in the case of three brothers on death row whose effigies wound up in a wax museum and a museum of anatomy.

Community Component: Humanizing History at Old New-Gate Prison & Copper Mine, with community partner Morgan Bengel, Old New-Gate Prison
Research Project: Old New-Gate Prison & Copper Mine believes that humanizing history has the ability to encourage empathy and critical thinking in our modern society. The goal of this project is to shed light on the lives of the prisoners at Old New-Gate Prison & Copper Mine. The men incarcerated at New-Gate (1773-1827) were confined in an abandoned copper mine. Their experience was dehumanizing, and this project will seek to bring some humanity back to their story. Through research and writing the students will create a series of blog posts meant to illuminate the daily life, demographics, and experiences at New-Gate Prison. The blog series will act as a pre-visit / post-visit supplement for visitors who are interested in learning more. The series will also have the ability to reach a national audience interested in New-Gate specifically or the topic of crime and punishment in early America.
Student Researchers: Students will have the opportunity to work within the museum’s collection and archives to document and transcribe 19th century prison documents. Through archival research, students will gain an in depth understanding of the men and women incarcerated at New-Gate Prison and put this knowledge to the test by answering their research questions with blog posts.


Telling Our Stories Online and the Hartford Montford Point Marines
Myri Ayala ’25, Chris Cooper ’23, Digital Scholarship Coordinator Mary Mahoney, Research Technology and Outreach Librarian Cait Kennedy and community partner Desiree Primus

Faculty Component: Telling Our Stories Online: Connecting and Supporting Undergraduate Digital Scholars at Trinity
With Mary Mahoney, Cait Kennedy
Research Project: Our research project is building a more robust and engaged online community for Trinity students and faculty engaging in digital scholarship. The students would work together to create a gallery of example digital projects by Trinity students and faculty; curate resources and information for students interested in digital scholarship; build tutorials on digital tools of their choice; and interview the Trinity digital scholarship faculty fellows about their capstone projects. This project is significant because there is strong interest and growing momentum on Trinity’s campus for digital scholarship, and our students would benefit from more opportunities to communicate with and learn from their peers and faculty mentors who are also engaging in this work. Creating this project will allow them to produce real-world digital work they can include on a professional portfolio or resume, further exemplifying the College’s revised learning goals. Each student will be encouraged to follow their digital scholarship interests and curate resources and materials for the research methodologies they find most exciting – some examples might include mapping, digital exhibits, podcasting, video editing, web design, virtual or augmented reality, or 3d printing. Students will have opportunities to build their own skills and expertise in their area of interest by developing a sample project; additionally, to support student scholarship in this area, they would build a collection of example projects, make tutorials (video or written) for a student audience, and interview scholars who are experts in that research methodology. Both students will create accounts in Domains, Trinity’s free web hosting service, and develop WordPress skills. They will also make use of LinkedIn Learning tutorials to build skills in a new digital area. They may also learn Camtasia, Kaltura, or another software to create video tutorials.

Community Component: First Black Marines: Local Montford Point Marines Narratives, with community partner Desiree Primus, Individual
Research Project: First Black Marines: Local Montford Point Marines Narratives is a research project on the fascinating history of two Hartford area members of America’s First Black Marines, the Montford Point Marines. The United States Marine Corps for centuries banned African American men from serving in their branch of the armed forces. World War II desperately required all Americans to help with the war effort and as a result, Black men were finally permitted to join the Corps. Montford Point Marines were named after the segregated training facility located at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The Congressional Gold Medal Group finally received their honors in 2012. Montford Point Marine Clifford Primus, lived in Windsor, CT for over sixty years and was also a member of the first Black combat unit in WWII, the 51st Battalion. His brother was a Tuskegee Airmen; it is a rare distinction of having two Congressional Gold Medal recipients in one immediate family. Another Montford Point Marine was Hartford’s Walter “Doc” Hurley, an education trailblazer and community icon. Hurley’s Gold Medal would be awarded posthumously to his family. Many of these forgotten Black Marines and their families had no idea that they were designated with the highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal. Lastly, the intended audience is local, state and national and all ages. Students interview people who have known Clifford Primus and Walter “Doc” Hurley along with actual Marines who are familiar with the history of the Montford Point Marines. Desiree says, “I am interested in the future in having a Montford Point Marines Exhibit, along with other WWII Black Military Groups, such as Tuskegee Airmen and the WWII Black Female battalion unit ‘Six Triple Eight.’ The exhibit would also be a call for artists to create artwork representing these unsung soldiers.”


The Promise of the Suburbs & Documenting Black Stories in Connecticut
Neema Kimondo ’23, Reese San Diego ’25, Professor Sarah Bilston, and community partners Christine Pittsley, CT State Library, and Adrienne Billings-Smith, Concerned Parents of Color West Hartford

Faculty Component: The Promise of the Suburbs, with Professor Sarah Bilston
Research Description: This project will ask students to construct a digital map of a suburban area in Victorian London, one that allows viewers to experience and explore its rich, dynamic, networked opportunities.
Student Researchers: Students will help adapt the existing map alongside Cheryl Cape and add additional content using post office directories to associate buildings on the ordnance survey map with families, and upload advertisements for shops, inns, and taverns.

Community Component: Belonging: Finding your Legacy Documenting Black stories in Connecticut, with community partners Adrienne Billings-Smith, Concerned Parents of West Hartford, and Christine Pittsley, CT State Library

Research Description: We will expand on our on-going research project about the Loomis-Elkey family tree. This project will consist of genealogical research, community outreach, and investigating connections of Black-Americans in CT through the Loomis-Elkey line in hopes to further expand the creations and connections of communities. This work will culminate in a digital production featuring family members, community members and archives. Screenings and community conversations will be held in the latter part of the project for local community organizations and institutions, with the goal of uncovering further connections and bridging the stories of Black-American communities within the region. This team also hopes to design programming to show others how to research and document their family histories.


Hartford’s Indigenous History & Frog Hollow Storytelling
Max Norteman ’23, Isabelle Sayas ’23, Professor Garth Myers, and community partner Logan Singerman, Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (SINA)

Faculty Component: Hartford’s Indigenous Historical Geography
With Professor Garth Myers
Following on the Hartford material in my 2020 book, Rethinking Urbanism, and my 2021 Hartford-based chapter on the Making of Global Cityscapes in the Handbook of Historical Geography, I plan to focus entirely on the history of Suckiaug (Hartford) and Pyquaog (Wethersfield) in the period 1600-1671 in this project. My goal is to produce an article for submission to The Journal of Historical Geography on the shifting dynamics of Indigenous relations with Dutch and English colonizers. I plan to build on the framework provided in Lisa Brooks’s The Common Pot for understanding the Wangunk and other Indigenous peoples of the greater Hartford area in terms of the “rivers and relations” weaving them together. I plan to work with existing archival resources, COVID-permitting, in the Connecticut Historical Society, Wethersfield Historical Society, and Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center (and potentially other archives) as well as secondary sources to build a robust and nuanced picture of the urbanism as colonizers overtook, displaced and subjugated Indigenous peoples.

Community Component: Frog Hollow History Digital Walking Tour, with community partner Logan Singerman, Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (SINA)

Last year SINA carried out a community focused Frog Hollow Hero Mural project accompanied by a Frog Hollow Oral History project with Trinity’s Liberal Arts Action Lab. The goal of this project is to create a bilingual digital walking tour that incorporates this information into a dynamic experience. Our intended audience is the Frog Hollow community as well as anyone interested in the history of the neighborhood.
Building off work done by the Fall 2021 Liberal Arts Action Lab students and the Spring 2022 Community Action Gateway students, the two student researchers this summer will work with Logan to identify and upload material into the chosen digital platform for the tour. The team plans to draw on Trinity’s institutional knowledge of walking tours and what makes for a meaningful experience and any other guidance from people very familiar with the archives of material that exist.


The Public Humanities Collaborative (PHC) is a summer research opportunity that brings together students, faculty, and individuals and organizations in Hartford to work on public humanities projects. The 2022 PHC is a component of Trinity College’s Summer Research Program funded by the Dean of Faculty’s Office. PHC is a competitive application process, with preference given to first generation, under-represented, and other students with demonstrated financial need, for whom socio-economic status has prevented them from engaging with summer research opportunities.

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