Here at History Truck, we are up to our ears in good news. Firstly, we won Best IRL project of the year at the Philadelphia Geek Awards! Thank you, thank you, thank you to Geekadelphia and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and PHILADELPHIA for making History Truck the awesome project that it is.
So awesome that the Barra Foundation has funded History Truck with an $85,000 grant to connect the neighborhood history museum component of the project to Temple University’s Center for Public History through 2015 with funding to make our work in North Philadelphia happen, to create a web portal for our oral histories, and to evaluate the project as a possible curriculum model where students in the graduate program help run the project.
But enough news about the project in general. We have better news to share– about our work at Tree House Books during July-August. Below, Grace DiAgostino, the undergraduate research assistant from our first exhibition cycle, updates on our first piece of work in North Philly:
From Grace DiAgostino:
Located in the heart of North Philadelphia is Tree House Books, an organization whose mission is to “grow and sustain a community of readers, writers, and thinkers in North Central Philadelphia.” History Truck founder and curator, Erin Bernard, along with Philadelphia artist, Theodore A. Harris, partnered with Tree House Books to complement and contribute to their summer camp this past July.
The middle-high school male camp interviewing Don Williams
who opened his barber shop at 15th and Susquehanna Ave. in 1966.
Campers read books that focused on a specific time in Black history or on specific African Americans who changed history. In addition to their readings, Erin led the groups in public history workshops and how to conduct oral histories by working with community members, some of which relate to characters in their books! Erin and Tree House Books counselors worked together with the campers, helping them to develop questions, interview the community member, and then reflect on what they learned from that person. Campers interviewed Black Panther Barbara Easley Cox, Vietnam Veteran Theodore Andrews, Tree House books volunteer and lifelong resident Sharon Turner, Philadelphia Jazz Project leader Homer Jackson, and local business owner Don Williams of Don’s Doo Shop on Susquehanna Avenue.
After interviewing and reflecting on their interviews with community members, Theodore Harris led campers in creating collages. At the end of the day, the summer campers were asked to begin thinking about their collages and to pull pages out of magazines that represented what they heard, learned, and felt about their oral histories. The beautiful and meaningful artwork will be displayed on the History Truck throughout the North Philadelphia cycle.
A collage inspired by Barbara Easley Cox’s oral history
by Tree House History Maker Meadow. These collages are currently on view at Tree House Books through September and will be traveled with the truck when we finish our exhibition cycle in North Philadelphia.
The summer camp experience of the campers was multi-faceted, collective, and educational in a variety of ways. By sharing authority, Tree House Books staff, historian Erin Bernard, artist Theodore Harris, and the students were able to work together to chronicle and artistically interpret meaningful histories in North Central Philadelphia community.
**This artist-historian collaborative portion of History Truck was funded by
Philly STAKE’s February micogrant funding dinner.
Buy your tickets to the next dinner on September 21st at Bartram’s Garden and support wonderful projects like this one HERE.**