Tuesday, November 7th, 2017...4:38 pmBrian Nickless

Esther Popel Shaw papers

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The Esther Popel Shaw papers and works that we studied in the archives was very enlightening to me. The element that most fascinated me was how Dickinson treated her family after her graduation by decreeing that her child would have to live in off campus due to their race. The apology by the college in recent years also interested me as I did not know that the college had done such a thing for her descendants. Learning more about her and the literary figures that she associated it me, I was shocked to realize that I had never really heard about Esther Popel Shaw despite her having a named building on campus and such a large study around her in the archives. Whether this was due to my own lack of pursuit of this information or this information not being given to students I do not know.

I would like to get the chance to read more of her works and learn more about her and other students like her at Dickinson or other comparable schools. The fact her Alma Mater turned its back on her descendants for so long before President Durden’s apology is distressing to say the least. I would want to know if this has happened in the history of other small liberal arts colleges that like to profess diversity as a central tenant of their school. I think it is necessary that Dickinson and other schools look into their history and study even the most unpleasant parts in order to address them and add to the critical conversation surrounding higher education.

1 Comment

  •   Professor Seiler
    November 14th, 2017 at 1:24 am

    Brian–good contextualizing questions here. I’m so struck, in reading your post and others’, that some students feel like most acknowledgments of EPS by Dickinson tokenize her, while others (including you) hadn’t really heard about her at all. I wonder (genuinely, as always) what you make of that.

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