Student researcher finds her voice while exploring influential women on campus
College is a time when you can explore things that take you far beyond what you already know. When you do that exploration as part of an Undergraduate Research Library Fellowship, you expand your own horizons while adding to world’s database of knowledge.
Fellowship recipient Hannah Stoll knew she wanted her project to center around the Lima campus, her academic home throughout her university experience. She worked to hone in on a specific topic with her mentor, Tina Schneider, the Lima Campus library director.
Together they chose Stoll’s topic to be “How have women experienced being administration, faculty and staff members on the Ohio State University campus in Lima?”
“The idea of obtaining history from the voice of a primary source fascinated and continues to fascinate me, so with a bit of brainstorming we decided on contacting prominent women who had contributed to the Lima campus in one way or another,” Stoll said.
Stoll conducted interviews with two former dean and directors, three faculty members who have taught on campus for at least 20 years and two staff members.
“This was a good project for Hannah because she was interested in women's history and creating something unique to help document Ohio State’s history,” Schneider said. “This was a good project for Ohio State Lima because for we had only two oral histories (both women) completed. To add seven more, from faculty and staff, enriches our archival holdings so much more.”
Before she interviewed the women, Stoll searched through campus newsletters in the library’s digital archive to get a feel for the campus when the women started, talked to a university archivist to learn more about how to make the most out of questions, and did extensive background research on the role and challenges faced by women in higher education.
“Women are often looked over when it comes to written topics of leadership or other typically ‘masculine’ traits,” Stoll said. “It’s important to show others and have them recognize that women can do these things, too, as well as demonstrating how these women transform communities by their commitment to higher education and learning.”
Listening to the women she interviewed and learning more about their experiences inspired Stoll. She hopes they will inspire others as well.
“While listening to these oral histories, I hope people realize that the choices they make and the perspectives they have matter,” Stoll said. “A majority of the time some young adults, including myself, feel like we have no say or what we say doesn’t have any impact. However, that is far from the truth. Every action you take can contribute to someone else.”
Between her three semesters working on the campus’ literary journal Asterism and her fellowship, Stoll has learned to push out of her comfort zone and take promising opportunities.
“This experience will help me to think outside the box a bit more when it comes to ways to use my creativity skills, as well as helping me brush up on my professionalism,” Stoll said. “It also allowed me a way to expand onto my active listening skills and ways to be respectful when asking difficult questions. I could go on, but the experience has definitely helped me grow as an academic and person.”
Stoll’s oral histories will soon be available in Ohio State’s Knowledge Bank and the Voices of Women project.
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The Undergraduate Research Library Fellowship is offered to Ohio State students from all majors each year. For more information about this competitive opportunity, visit their website.