Top of page

ASU project team left-to-right: Shannon Sturm, Dr. Matthew Gritter, and Dr. Aubrey Madler. Image courtesy of Angelo State University’s photographer, Scott Gartman.

CCDI Awardee Angelo State University dives into Afro-Latino West Texas history

Share this post:

Angelo State University (ASU) is one of CCDI’s 2024 Higher Education Awardees. The team began their project in December 2023 and will be presenting about their work at CCDI’s upcoming Summer Fuse 2024 event in Washington, D.C.  

ASU is receiving $69,999.06 for their project, “All History is Local: Celebrating the People of West Texas,” which centers on the Library of Congress’ observation that all history is local. The ASU team will work with faculty, students and staff to identify resources in the Library’s collections that build connections between national topics and the local history of Black and Hispanic or Latinx communities in West Texas. The research will culminate in an interactive national StoryMap that takes users through these narratives. StoryMaps is a web-based platform that can be used to create interactive stories by combining maps, multimedia, and narrative text. 

Isabel Brador, a Program Specialist for the Connecting Communities Digital Initiative, interviewed the team to learn more about their project plans.  

Congratulations on receiving a CCDI Higher Education award! Can you tell us about your project? 

As a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Angelo State University’s population reflects the demographics of its West Texas locale of San Angelo. We named our project All History is Local: Celebrating the People of West Texas. Our goal is to facilitate discovery and promotion of LOC digital collections that illuminate the lived experiences of Black and Hispanic or Latinx populations, specifically weaving national themes and stories into the West Texas cultural narrative. To accomplish this, we are identifying sources and writing short articles that build connections between national historical topics and the experiences of people in our region. Then, we are giving further life to these articles by transferring them to an interactive website that features these stories and complementary digital artifacts.  

A black and white photo depicting a group of schoolchildren of various ages standing outside of their schoolhouse.
Children and their teacher outside of Melivn School, rural West Texas, 1941, courtesy of Bill Perez.


What excites or inspires you the most about the work you’ll be able to achieve with the CCDI award? 

The CCDI-funded project will help give voice to perspectives and contributions that may have been less accessible or prominent prior to the project. It has the potential to help otherwise underrepresented populations of West Texas to see themselves in the histories told. The articles are based on primary source information, in other words, using first-hand accounts of the lived experiences of West Texans. Sometimes, it can be hard to see ourselves as small elements of a larger whole. People living in rural communities seemingly far removed from narratives represented in the news and history books can feel excluded from the stories told. This project is particularly exciting because it helps to close that gap – people of unrepresented communities will be able to see their narratives connected to similar narratives across the nation. Hopefully, they will feel more connected to a larger community and see that their stories matter.  

How are you using the digital materials at the Library of Congress to highlight the theme of your project, which is that ‘all history is local’?  

Each StoryMap includes digital artifacts from our collections that support the local narrative plus at least one digital artifact from the Library of Congress. Our student researchers and project staff select images or other formats from the LOC collections to capture visual representations of broader, national perspectives or perspectives of similar communities in different states. To help our audience learn more, we are providing links to additional artifacts or collections stored in the Library of Congress digital archive. 

Black and white photograph of workers shearing goats in a barn.
Migrant sheep shearers in Kimble County, TX, 1940. Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection, Library of Congress.

For your project, you’ll be collaborating with students, faculty, and staff at ASU. What are their project roles and how do their perspectives impact project outcomes? 

Undergraduate and graduate students are hired as paid employees on the project. Some students make up the tech team and are tasked with designing the StoryMaps while others are responsible for writing content. Each member of the content team researches their assigned topics, people, and/or places then writes articles and identifies digital artifacts that can help to bring visual context to the narrative. Students come to the project with varying interests and backgrounds and across several academic majors. Some of our students are not from the United States, so they are discovering information that they have never seen before and approach their topics from different perspectives. Meanwhile other students on the project are from the West Texas region and have a foundation of Texas and U.S. history; they can learn more about how topics they loosely know are tied to their home state. 

Faculty on the project have helped to set up the technology platform and others will come in over the summer to fact-check and proofread each article prior to final publication. We also have a faculty member featured on the core project team, Dr. Matthew Gritter, a political science professor. He brings a wealth of content knowledge to the project and mentors students in their writing and approach to the topics. 

Later, more faculty members from various departments will facilitate a workshop for area K-12 teachers and Angelo State’s teacher candidates. They will help us to further showcase the LOC digital artifacts and learn how to incorporate these primary source materials into their lessons – helping to bring history to life in the classroom. Their perspective features using the products of research and other primary source artifacts to meet educational goals of diverse learners. Staff members helping on the project include the team of library employees from our special collections unit, West Texas Collection (WTC). Students report to the WTC when working most of their shifts so that staff can assist students with their research – especially as it relates to local information and digital archives. Shannon Sturm, our project co-PI is the Associate Director of Special Collections, an archivist, and a local historian serving with Dr. Gritter as our content experts and student mentors. 

One goal of the project is to create an interactive national map, what will that look like and how do you anticipate it being used by your audience(s)? 

Researchers, students, and people across the West Texas region and beyond can land on a central hub via a web link. From there, they can browse stories of people and places around West Texas, or they can start from a topical theme and explore articles that bring several people and places together to form stories of common challenges, successes, and growth. Each article is designed as a StoryMap of information that integrates maps for geographical context, narrative stories, plus photographs and other digital artifacts. Users can click out to original sources, zoom in and out of various maps as the story progresses, and view resources to learn more information – either within the themed collection, the broad project hub, or outside the StoryMap entirely, such as to LOC digital collections.  

Summer Fuse 2024 

Interested in learning more about ASU’s work or hearing from other CCDI awardees? Register now for CCDI’s upcoming Summer Fuse event on June 24! This virtual event will feature presentations from our 2024 CCDI Award Recipients, a Community-Engaged AI Panel, and our CCDI Junior Fellows and an AHHA intern.    

CCDI is part of the Library’s Of the People: Widening the Path program with support from the Mellon Foundation. This four-year program provides financial and technical support to individuals, institutions and organizations to create imaginative projects using the Library’s digital collections and centering one or more of the following groups: Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and other communities of color from any of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and its territories and commonwealths (Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands). Learn more about CCDI here.

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.