A look back – 150 years of memories

Shippensburg University kicked off its 150th celebration with the launch of a new 150th website and interactive photo timeline. Check out the timeline.

In addition to the timeline, the website features a listing of 150 events and a place to share your Ship memories. Submit your memories and photos and they’ll be featured on the 150th page over the next year.

From the archives to the web – How two students brought Ship’s 150 story to light

A quick Google search of the year 1871 will tell you Ulysses S. Grant was president; the United States Civil Service Commission was newly formed, and players took the field for the first professional baseball game ever played. You can find plenty of information on all these historical events, but you won’t find much on the establishment of Shippensburg University or its rich 150-year history. But applied history graduate students Tara Quinlivan and CJ Meiser ’20 have been hard at work to change that and bring Ship’s story to the web and the world. As graduate assistants, the two were tasked with telling Ship’s 150-year story by creating an interactive photo timeline for the university’s upcoming sesquicentennial celebration.

Quinlivan and Meiser combed the university archives in their quest for Ship’s story all while gaining valuable experience as historians.

“Archive work is a cornerstone of any historian’s job. Spending so much time researching and familiarizing myself with the layout of the archive has prepared me to do more work in the future within my field,” said Meiser.

Their work included identifying around 150 historic events and images to highlight those moments. While 150 may seem like a lot, for Quinlivan it was not enough. She struggled to pick from so many incredible events and moments in Ship’s history.

“Tara and CJ have completed exemplary work in the university archives—conducting research, identifying historical photos, and writing descriptive summaries for the historical timeline. They mined the archives’ collections to uncover key moments that made Shippensburg the university we know today,” said Christy Fic, associate professor and university archivist and special collections librarian.

“It was exciting to have my eyes on newspapers, photos, letters, scrapbooks, yearbooks, and pamphlets from students, faculty, and alumni from the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was intriguing to see how traditions and college life has changed from generation to generation,” said Quinlivan.

These changes include the construction of key campus buildings, the formation of new student groups, athletic achievements, famous guests and much more. It also provides a look into how world and national events impacted the campus community over time.

Both are excited to present the final digital timeline to the Ship community and provide a peek into the people and experiences that define Ship. This includes moments of laughter and moments of loss.

 “Getting a glimpse of past students’ personalities through their writings was great entertainment. I even laughed out loud once in a while reading the documents. Other times, such as reading the poetry of students who died serving in World War I, were heart wrenching,” added Quinlivan.

Beyond the unique student personalities and experiences, Quinlivan and Meiser were surprised by one consistency in Ship students from the very beginning, their commitment to engagement and activism has always been strong.

Meiser was especially moved by an event he uncovered from 1948. The men’s basketball team was slated to play the Hagerstown junior college team in Maryland. At the time, Maryland remained a segregated school and Ship’s team included an African American teammate. When Hagerstown refused to allow him to play, the university basketball then chose not to travel without all of its players, forfeited the game and stood in solidarity with their teammate.

“I have never spent much time looking into the school’s history and it is awesome to see the evolution into the school we love today,” said Meiser.

While they’ve learned a lot about the school they love, they’ve also given back to the campus community as it reflects on its past and earned valuable skills for their careers ahead.

“Tara and CJ’s contribution to this project has prepared them to work as professional historians who will need to gather and synthesize an array of information to share stories with a broad audience,” said Fic.

They are hopeful the broad audience enjoys a look back at Shippensburg University as the campus community spends the next year, joining together to remember, celebrate and thrive.

Check out the 150 timeline!