Archives Project Highlights Pittston’s Past


Members of the Pittston archive project pose for a photo.

Matt Gromala, Reporter

Misericordia students – and members of the greater community – can get a glimpse into the past as a result of a history department fellowship designed to organize the historical information and photography held by the Great Pittston Historical Society.

Six students took part in the fellowship, for which they received three course credits – and a paycheck, too, said Dr. Jennifer Black, a history professor who led the fellowship.

For two of the students, senior history major A.J. Mancini and senior communications major Matthew Gromala, the project was especially meaningful because they are natives of the Greater Pittston Area.

“I first heard about [the fellowship] through Dr. Black in class when she brought it up, and I was drawn to the class because I’ve lived in the area my whole life and it interested me to see how it was then compared to now,” said Mancini.

The work, which students began in May and wrapped up in July, consisted of logging previously scanned negatives from the archives of The Sunday Dispatch, a weekly Pittston newspaper in operation since the 1940’s, and the Lukashik Studio Collection, a private photography studio  in DuPont. Students then entered the material into The Society’s database for easy access.
The work was painstaking because while the The Sunday Dispatch had organized its negatives,  the private collection was not arranged by date, and students had to find clues in photos of various private events, such as class reunions or First Holy Communions, because important information and dates were printed on the negatives.

Later in the summer, some students worked to transcribe oral interviews given by residents of the Greater Pittston area.
All of the toil led to the final project: a website that makes the information available to all history buffs. While Dr. Black wrote the “About Us” section, students wrote every other line of text on the site. Negatives they had logged are also available the site,as were other images found during research. Students also learned to properly provide credit and copyright on the work where needed.
Senior history major Patrick Gallagher and Senior English major Nicole Negron wrote the homepage introduction. Each student also wrote two to four object entries, combining information gleaned from  the negatives or the oral histories.

The website went live around the end of April, originally on a free blog-type hosting site before it migrated to its present site at he start of the fall semester.

Ron Faraday, President of the Greater Pittston Historical Society, had high praise for students’ work.
“After spending a combined 12 years as a successful student at LCCC, Johnson College, Misericordia University, and Scranton University, I feel that I’m uniquely qualified to say that I can recognize an exceptional academic project when I see one, and the end result of the project truly is exceptional. The presentation, arrangement, site layout, content, everything, was all well thought out, well researched and presented exceptionally well,” he said.

Faraday also  praised the fellowship program.

“As a lifelong student as well as the leader of a non-profit organization that benefited from the fellowship program, I can see so many advantages in the learning experience offered by the program.”

Black said she has no intention of stopping the work.

“I would love to continue this work in the future, and will continue to apply for the funds through the internal grant program as long as the funding is available, ” said Dr. Black.

The Historical Society looks forward to working with more students.

“Being a fairly new Historical Society with loads and loads of artifacts, we’re experiencing what I describe as a tidal wave of work. No work has ever been performed on the artifacts that we’ve collected, so there’s an enormous amount of work to get through,” said Faraday.

Dr. Black and the students will present their work on Oct. 8 at 5:30 p.m.,in the McGowan Room of the Bevevino Library.

“My hope is that the public will be just as fascinated as we were with the details of everyday life in Pittston. It is a city with remarkable depth and character, not just for the interesting people that lived there, but for the incredible way that the community has pulled together to preserve their own history. From our online exhibit, I hope that the public will catch a glimpse of the details that make Pittston’s history both familiar but fascinatingly different at the same time.,” said Dr. Black.

Participants included senior history major Patrick Gallagher, senior English major Nicole Negron, senior History major A.J. Mancini, junior history major Cody Spriggs, junior history major Mike McDonnell, and junior communications and history major Matt Gromala. Junior English major Kaitlin Hall, who was in a separate intern position under Dr. Black, also assisted the fellowship.

The history fellowship was part of the Student Summer Research Fellowship program.