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History in the Making, History Shared

By Stephanie Shreffler and Heidi Gauder

When life hands you a potential lemon, you work to turn it into lemonade. In this case, we are seeing history in the making with the coronavirus pandemic, something future generations will no doubt research. For the UDI 204 course, however, our students researched older historical artifacts and at the same time adjusted to the new normal of an online classroom.  

Three UD students explored history firsthand in the University Libraries’ minicourse, UDI 204. This course introduced the students to theories of archival and primary source research, such as gaps in the historical record, historical empathy, privacy, book history, and visual and material culture. The students then chose items from the Libraries’ special collections, conducted in-depth research and presented their findings with a digital poster.

Oehlschlagers’ lager

Junior Haylee Hunt researched the 1875 Montgomery County Atlas, using it as a foundation to learn more about German breweries in early Dayton — in particular that of the Oehlschlager family. The Oehlschlagers lived in South Park in the early 1900s and worked for the Schantz & Schwind Brewery. Haylee’s poster explained how Germans developed the process of brewing lagers and brought that knowledge with them to the United States when they immigrated.

Catechetical cookies

Shari Neilson, a Marian Library employee, chose to research a 17th-century pastry mold that featured the Holy Family on one side and Adam and Eve on the other. These molds were used to help teach about the Christian faith and were considered fine art in their own right. Shari’s presentation included detailed research about the history and purposes of these molds.

Orientation evolves

Sophomore Katie Ploger researched the beanies that University of Dayton first-year students used to wear. She compared the current first-year orientation process to the orientations of the mid-20th century. She also discussed the significance of the beanie, describing how although they were meant to make first-year students feel part of the University community, they often singled them out instead. Her poster featured fascinating photos of University of Dayton orientations from the 1950s and 1960s.

More information on UDI 204

The University Libraries offer UDI 204, a one-credit minicourse, every spring semester. For more information on future offerings of the class, please email

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