As part of the Lehigh Valley Engaged Humanities Consortium (LVEHC) in which Lafayette College Libraries is a formal partner, and with generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Digital Scholarship Services recently expanded the Destination: Northampton County digital collection in the LVHEC Digital Archive with the exciting addition of 3D “community artifacts.”

Dancing man and woman wearing traditional Lebanese dress

Souvenir from Lebanon of a man and woman performing a traditional dabke dance, on wood.

Digital Scholarship Services stewards the digital archive, which is one of the main outcomes of the ongoing Mellon grant supporting the LVEHC. The archive bears witness to cultural, economic, and demographic changes in the Lehigh Valley during the past half-century. The range of materials collected in the archive include oral histories, family photographs, historic maps, ephemera, material objects, and other primary source materials that document diverse ethnic and immigrant communities, emergent economies in the de-industrial era, relationships between culture and the environment, and other topics. The archive provides primary sources for educators, scholars, students, and others who wish to explore transformations of the past half-century in the Lehigh Valley.

The Destination: Northampton County digital collection in the LVHEC Digital Archive reflects primary source materials collected by the Sigal Museum and Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society for the permanent exhibition “Destination: Northampton County,” which features histories of migration to the area. Since the physical exhibition can only include a portion of the rich collection of items collected by Sigal curators in partnership with community members, the digital collection is an essential supplement to make the comprehensive range of primary source materials available to those interested in exploring histories of migration to the area.

Teal dress with hand-painted flowers

Teal dress hand-painted with brightly colored flowers, made in the Philippines.

The digital collection is organized in the groupings “African American History,” “Jewish American History,” “Lebanese American History,” “Filipino American History,” “Greek American History,” and “Irish and Italian American History.” The new sub-collection, “Community Artifacts,” features 3D objects connected with a diversity of ethnic histories. Paul Miller, Visual Resources Curator at DSS, undertook this major photography project in collaboration with Sigal Museum staff.  Remarks Jean Bemesderfer, Acting Curator at the Sigal Museum, “During the exhibition process, it was essential that we treated so-called ordinary objects the same way we treated renowned works of art. No story is more valuable than another, and when our community sees familiar items like wooden spoons and hair combs treated with reverence, hopefully this honors their story as well.”