Public History Students' Project wins Multiple Awards
Congratulations to graduate students Rachel Boyle, Chelsea Denault, and Kelly Schmidt, and alumnae Maggie McClain on winning the multiple awards for the Chrysler Village History Project. The Project has won the National Council on Public History Student Project Award, Honorable Mention for the Alice Smith Prize in Public History from the Midwestern History Association, and an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH).
The Chrysler Village History Project is a collaborative project that brought together Loyola public history graduate students and various community stakeholders to preserve and share the dynamic and diverse histories of the Chrysler Village neighborhood on Chicago’s southwest side through a community festival, a community-driven mural contest, an oral history project, and a content-rich website. “This has been an incredible project,” said Chelsea Denault, “especially in that it allowed my colleagues and me to apply such a variety of our public history skills gained in the classroom to make a real, tangible impact in a community.” Growing out of a National Register Historic District nomination in Dr. Ted Karamanski’s 2013 Management of Historic Resources class and benefitting from additional inspiration and support from in Dr. Patricia Mooney-Melvin's 2014 Public History Methods and Theory class and Dr. Chris Manning's Oral History Methods class in 2015, the Chrysler Village History Project is excellent example of how class projects at Loyola can evolve and grow into independent, large-scale, meaningful public history practice in the community. “The Chrysler Village History Project involved the coalescence of so many passionate and hardworking students and community members,” said Rachel Boyle. “I think this award speaks to how how the Loyola University Chicago Public History program really brings together and supports public historians eager to take on innovative student-driven projects.” The Chrysler Village History Project also benefitted from collaboration with Public History Lab, a graduate student-run organization that provides a forum and support for public history projects outside of coursework.
The success of the project also speaks to the emphasis the History Department’s graduate program places on community outreach and the drive students feel to apply their skills towards real problems. “This award is an honor,” says Maggie McClain, “but I believe the process of collaboratively working with my colleagues and the community is the grander reward. Working on the project, talking with community members and seeing how neighborhoods like Chrysler Village fit into the city of Chicago, proved to be one of the best learning experiences I had during my time at Loyola.”
This fall, the Chrysler Village History Project transitioned into a new phase and faces tough questions about the long-term responsibilities public historians have to the communities they work with. In an effort to answer those questions, Rachel Boyle and Kelly Schmidt participated in a roundtable at the 2017 NCPH Annual Meeting in Indianapolis on April 22.