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The Making of NITY

Not in the Yearbooks takes a student perspective on Chicago’s public schools in the postwar period. This public history project brought together ten Chicago Freedom School Freedom Fellows, aged 14-20, with UIC faculty, students and staff, as well as library and information specialists at the Read/Write Library. Not in the Yearbooks began with the idea that students have a historical perspective on the recent past, and are capable of capturing the historical perspectives of adults who were once students in area schools. Between May 2013 and August 2013 the Freedom Fellows collected and interpreted almost a dozen first person narratives from CPS teachers who had been CPS students.

The Freedom Fellows participated in five workshops designed to turn them into public history makers and curators. First, historian Elizabeth Todd-Breland of UIC shared her historical research on the specific ways that student, teacher, and community protest have animated this history. The fellows then visited UIC’s Daley Library to work with Special Collection archivist Val Harris and gained critical interview skills in a workshop with oral historians and sound curators, Marie Scatena and Heather Radke. The final workshops were held at the Read/Write Library, where the fellows practiced participatory archiving with Executive Director Nell Taylor and learned about Chicago-based artist Samantha Hill’s Kinship Project, which displays African American family history through digital archiving and art making.

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