The University of Akron donated the menus and manuscripts [Un]class in the spring semester 2022 to enable students to learn more about research, working with archival materials, and making information available to the public.
*The author of this article is a student in Menus and Manuscripts [Un]classroom.
Dr. Hillary Nunn of the University of Akron directs menus and manuscripts [Un]course in the Spring 2022 semester. The Menus and Manuscripts course allows students to dive head-first into the Polsky Archives and the Hower House Museum to establish the context of Hower family life and the role of food in it. this. Their research, combined with the transcription of documents and the completion of their final projects, can be a complete experience. I also had the opportunity to participate in this class and explore the Hower House to learn more about the ladies’ salon and the women’s community at that time.
Part of the course is devoted to transcribing the collection of recipes, menus, etc. and put them into ContentDM, a software that houses the Hower House Museum’s collection of artifacts. Using this software makes information accessible to other researchers and keeps information about a single artifact in one place.
In addition to transcribing papers, students like me also had to create a final project to display their original research.
Part of the course also addresses the fact that sometimes research fails.
Student Cassandra Isenberg branched out to find out more about Elinor Hanna, a woman who ran The Cake and Candy Institute.
“I think one of the biggest lessons of this course is the understanding that no matter how much you plan, organize and research, your project probably won’t go as planned,” says Isenberg.
She planned to present her findings in a candy-making class offered by UA, but that didn’t materialize.
My own project, which originally started with finding more information about furniture and food in the Hower House, took a different direction towards women’s lives, focusing more on the ladies’ salon for reference. As I mentioned in my blog post for the course, I learned that this room was used to provide refreshments to visiting women at Hower family social events.
Nonetheless, Isenberg believes there are “so many historical layers in the Hower family” that can be explored through student projects that could benefit the Hower House Museum.
“I would like students to know that whatever their interest, they could find something to dive into while taking this course that matches their interests. It’s more than food and ancient writing,” says Isenberg.
Nunn knows how daunting research in the Archives can be. Nonetheless, she makes sure that students get the most out of their research and learn things they might not have expected.
Nunn says how wonderful it is to see students become experts in areas they may not have known before.
In addition to learning more about women during the Howers’ lives, I also discovered more resources on campus. The Hower House Museum, for its part, is a great resource for researching internships and information on Akron’s history.
Linda K. Bussey is the director of the Hower House Museum. Throughout our projects, she was willing to show us around the Hower House and give us more specific information on our areas of interest.
She described how some students became involved in the museum by “working with the collection or organizing tours”.
“Student participation in our museum has been an enriching experience for those of us who work and volunteer here,” says Bussey.
She describes how our class’s involvement has been a huge help for the Hower House Museum and hopes ‘this will be the first of many more such collaborations’.
If you want to know more about [Un]Courses at the University of Akron, check out the [Un]Classroom page.
If you want to learn To learn more about the Hower House Museum or if you would like to get involved, call 330-972-6909.