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Delving into Desegregation

By Abbey Search

Hello! My name is Abbey Search, and I am a public history graduate student at Wright State University and an intern in the University Archives and Special Collections at the University of Dayton.

While I am at UD, I will be processing a part of the collection known as the Watras Collection. The collection is the papers of the late Joseph Watras, a professor of teacher education at the University of Dayton. His research and publications focused on history, philosophy, and education, particularly with respect to the desegregation of the Dayton Public School system.

Assess, pare, organize, describe

This project will allow me to have real-life experience with a large collection that is connected to a lot of publications. I will be looking through all the folders and publications that were donated, and I will decide what information is needed. After I look through the collection and sort out duplicates and things that do not fall into the scope of the archives, I will organize the papers into folders based on their content and the years they were written or used. These folders will be labeled and put into series that provide as much information as possible for the researcher. After all the folders are labeled, I will put them into boxes that keep the series together. This will help the archives staff and researchers to find the information as easily as possible.

After the collection is labeled and put into boxes, I will write a finding aid that anyone can access; it will provide a summary and layout of the collection and its contents. This will make the collection the most accessible outside the Archives and Special Collections.

I am looking forward to being able to solve some challenges I’m anticipating, and I look forward to learning about Watras and his desegregation research as I delve further into the collection.

Value to researchers

This collection will be an asset to all students and researchers with an interest in the topic. I hope to accompany the collection with a digital archive of sorts. The digital aspect of this exhibit would be a portal providing access to the collection from outside the University Archives and Special Collections. I would like the information to be available as quickly as possible. That project comes with its own challenges and its own completion date, but I hope to be done with both by early January 2020.

I’ll outline the challenges and the outcome of my adventure with this collection in a future blog. I hope everyone looks forward to seeing the finished collection. In the meantime, I hope you’ll check out the Archives and Special Collections for other gems!

About Joe Watras

Joseph Watras taught the history and philosophy of education in the University of Dayton School of Education and Health Sciences from 1979 until his death in 2016. He was the author of Politics, Race, and Schools: Racial Integration, 1954-1994, an examination of political controversies surrounding the racial desegregation of public and private schools,  using the example of Dayton and its 40-year effort to overcome segregation. 

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