Students in Dr. Jordan Reed’s Advanced Seminar: Perspectives on American History class recently got a behind-the-scenes tour of the United Methodist Archives and History Center at Drew University. The class also viewed a curated exhibit there titled “Piety and Plague: Communal Responses to Epidemics.”
This exhibit showcases how the current pandemic is not a complete anomaly; we are part of a history of epidemics that has ravaged the human population for thousands of years. The exhibit explores the medical and religious reaction to disease as well as the different ways fears and anxieties of sickness shape our behavior and the culture around us.
After exploring the exhibit, the students learned about the process of storing and curating historical primary sources by touring the United Methodist Archives and History Center’s collection. They viewed some of the more intriguing elements of the collection, curated by the Manager of Special Collections, ranging from 800 year-old Greek manuscripts and letters from Civil War soldiers to modern graphic novels and comic books.
For Dr. Reed’s class, the field trip was the start of an end-of-semester theme focusing on “discovering what is hidden” by studying history. “Later this week, the students will begin writing a reflective essay considering what was previously hidden to them about American history, but has now become visible through the readings and research we’ve conducted as well as the choices we’re making as historians when we select material to view in an archive,” said Dr. Reed.
The students who participated in the field trip included: Andre Chabra ’23, Isabella Daniels ’23, Kathleen Degnan ’23, Matthew Dixter ’23, Ellie Frohlich ’23,Marjorie Gonzaga ’23, John Hanna ’23, Emma Hughes ’23, Rachel Jack ’23, Olivia Mann ’23, Julian Melendez ’23, Hutcheson McDonald ’23, Egbefe Omonzane ’23, Ruben Taits ’23, Patrick Woodham ’23, and Camila Zamora ’23.