This summer a team of researchers at Dickinson are beginning a multi-year project to develop a comprehensive digital resource regarding the Carlisle Indian Industrial School (CIIS). The project will bring together widely dispersed materials to aid research and study, and serve as a virtual home for the ongoing work of an active CIIS community of memory and inquiry. With support from an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Digital Humanities grant, and from the College’s Research and Development Committee, Jim Gerencser (College Archivist), Susan Rose (Professor of Sociology, Director Community Studies Center), and Malinda Triller Doran (Special Collections Librarian) will begin in summer 2013 by digitizing materials held at the National Archives in Washington, DC. In collaboration with student assistants, they will begin the process of transcribing documents, creating metadata, uploading materials, and analyzing the information.
The CIIS is a major site of memory for many Native peoples. Richard Henry Pratt implemented his vision for educating Native American students by removing them from their communities and bringing them to Carlisle, Pennsylvania. More than 10,000 Native American students from all over the country (and Puerto Rico) were enrolled at CIIS from 1879 to 1918. The school at Carlisle served as a model for many other non-reservation boarding schools across the country.
The CIIS and indigenous boarding school movement represents a very active area of research among scholars, teachers, students (both native and non-native), Carlisle-area residents, and descendants from across the U.S. and around the world. Scholars are working hand in hand with descendants of the CIIS students, who are learning from and contributing to this research. In the last decade, not only have many scholarly and popular books, articles and documentaries related to the CIIS been produced, but also a number of symposia and community events, such as pow-wows and commemorations, have been held. Dickinson College faculty members have been particularly active and involved with publications and events such as these.
The project aims at a comprehensive searchable database using the information contained in the digitized materials. Subsequent phases will develop the capability for user interactivity, so that individuals may contribute digitized photos, documents, oral histories, and other personal materials to the online collection. The site wll host teaching and learning materials utilizing the digitized content and database, and support the addition of original scholarly and popular works based on the CIIS Project resources.