2014 Convention Midwestern Region Society Wide

Capturing History

Andrew Gerskeby Andrew Gerske
Historian, Phi Delta Chapter
Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL

History happens everyday. When I applied for my chapter’s Historian position, I mentioned that I wanted to find out more about my chapter’s history and help capture key events. Maya Angelou states, “The more you know your history, the more liberated you are.” By preserving and capturing history, each day becomes a new adventure. This year, as Sigma Tau Delta celebrates its 90th anniversary, we are reminded of the importance of preserving our history for future generations.

One of the first steps I took was visiting Western Illinois University archives. While in the archives I found various newspaper articles and artifacts about the Phi Delta Chapter. These articles began to show how our chapter was involved with the English Department and campus life. Such archives are a wonderful starting point to find preliminary information about your chapter.

CameraBeyond the archives, the best way to find out more about your chapter’s history is to interview people. I recommend talking to your university historian, retired and current faculty, and someone from the alumni association. These people will help to paint a stronger image of the chapter’s history. Many times there are gaps in the history, so you may need to put all the pieces together to help tell your chapter’s story.

Another part of my job entails me going to events to capture the moments and memories of my chapter. My camera, an Olympus Tough, helps me to save these moments. This is my favorite part of being Historian, acting as a photojournalist, preserving each event for future members to see. One annual event that I play a major role in is the induction ceremony.  Along with taking photographs, I also help perform the ceremony. The induction ceremony is a great time to meet new members and share past stories.

1943 Membership Certificate
1943 Membership Certificate

After taking various photographs, I select some to post on the chapter’s Facebook page.  Managing the Facebook page is an excellent way to share current events with members. The best photos can also be shared on your region’s Facebook group so that other chapters can see what yours has accomplished. I even submitted some of my photos to the recent Chapter History Photo Contest and two of them were selected for Sigma Tau Delta’s 1924 Pinterest Board.

I also routinely design flyers about current events to help promote the organization. Besides functioning as the chapter’s Historian, sometimes I function as a public relations chair. This includes notifying members and the local papers about events.

There are many facets to being a chapter’s Historian, and all of them play a role in preserving history. I love capturing the moments and events to create this history. It’s fun, liberating, and has helped me to better understand my chapter.