What sparked this project?
Building on previous student-led projects, like Black at Bryn Mawr and A Point of Difference (see Acknowledgements for a full list), the Perry House Oral Histories Project seeks to build a collection of oral histories to address the gaps in Bryn Mawr’s archival record of Perry House and its residents. This project started out of a deserve to ensure that the history of Perry House and its affiliated communities is not forgotten or overlooked. By creating oral histories, our researchers give interviewees the chance to have their experiences at Bryn Mawr told in their own words, both filling in parts of history we have no material record of and speaking back to the archive that exists.
What are the next steps for the project?
As of March 2021, many of our interviews are in the final stages of approval. All interviews are full transcribed after the interview takes place and must be signed off on by the interviewee before they are made available online. We expect the first phase of interviews to go online in Spring 2021.
How will Perry House Oral Histories interviews be used?
Perry House Oral Histories interviews are meant to educate the community and to contribute to the wider institutional memory of Bryn Mawr College. Some interviews can only be accessed by Bryn Mawr community members, while others are available more widely, depending on the preferences of the interviewee. We cannot predict every way interviews might be used, but our hope is that they build a richer, more complex understanding of Bryn Mawr’s history and shed light on parts of the institution and student experience that have, until recently, been largely overlooked.
How do you decide who to interview for this project?
Researchers use a combination of methodologies to generate lists of potential interviewees. Beginning with a list generated by Bryn Mawr College’s Alumnae Relations and Development, student researchers reached out to alum from both the early (late 60s to early 70s) and more recent (2000s) period of Perry House’s history. From there, researchers used both the snowball method and word of mouth—in interviews and on social media—to generate the names of more potential interviewees.
Who do I talk to if I want to be interviewed?
If you’re an alum who would like to be interviewed, or if you contributed to, researched or participated in a similar project, please reach out to Gabrielle Gary, Associate Director of Affinity Programming, and let her know.
Are you interviewing people who lived in Spanish House before it became Perry House? The Enid Cook ’31 Center?
Yes! We are interested in capturing the full context of what Perry House represented (and still represents) to Black, Indigenous, and students of color on campus, which means interviewing not just former Perry House residents, but those who lived in Spanish House, those who were members of Perry House’s affiliated communities, and those who fought for the preservation of Perry House and the creation of the Enid Cook ’31 Center, including present and past Bryn Mawr College faculty and staff.