DALLAS TWP. — Pittston Township native Matt Gromala and Avoca native A.J. Mancini recently learned a bit more about their hometowns.
Gromala, 21, and Mancini, 20, along with six other Misericordia University students took part in a summer fellowship research program through Misericorida University Assistant Professor of History and Government Dr. Jennifer Black’s course, History 320: Public History Practicum.
It is through a paid fellowship from the university that the students logged in 20 hours of work each week for 10 weeks and teamed up with the Greater Pittston Historical Society (GPHS) for a project in which they catalogued photo negatives and articles from the society’s collection.
The students also researched information on certain historical events in the Greater Pittston area to accompany the photos and put it all on an online exhibit called “Mining the Past: Family, Faith and Industry in Post War Pittston.”
“The collaboration on the project actually came between myself and Ron Faraday, the president of the Greater Pittston Historical Society,” said Black. “We met through an acquaintance last fall and talked about how we could collaborate and create a community partnership between Misericordia and the GPHS and create a win-win situation. We get my students involved, work hands on with material and provide services to the public. It was really a question of working with Ron on what they needed done and what would be the best experience for my students.”
Black said the online exhibit should be up and running this weekend.
According to Black, Faraday provided the students with flashdrives that included Sunday Dispatch articles and photos as well as photos from Lukasik Studios from 1945 and later.
Then the students were tasked with placing the articles on the exhibit’s website.
Although they were provided information, Mancini said they took their research a step further by interviewing Greater Pittston residents.
“Three of us did oral histories and through that we were able to see first-hand through people who were actually there during the time frame how Pittston was, and living in Pittston now, how it changed,” Mancini said.
Not every project is easy as the students still ran into a handful of challenges along the way, specifically with captioning photos.
“We didn’t have a lot of the original photo captions,” said Gromala. “A lot of times we had no captions for photos and it would just be a man standing in front of a wall, or flowers in a vase or something like that and we had no idea why they were there.”
Mancini added that some photos were not dated and that they did their best to figure out what years those photos were taken.
The two Greater Pittston natives both enjoyed discovering more about the history of the area and were also reliable sources of information for their peers.
“With me and Matt being in the class it helped every other student,” said Mancini. “If they were confused by something they could come to us and we’d be able to tell them because we grew up in the area and have seen these things.”
Now that the project is complete there is a sense of relief, but at the same time accomplishment, amongst the students. Gromala said he is looking forward to enjoying the remainder of his summer.
“It was fun,” he said. “It’s over and now I get the month of August to enjoy myself before the semester starts.”
Black said she is proud of her students and that she will be looking to do future research fellowships with other community organizations.
“My plan is continue it every summer,” she said. “We may not get the same level of funding that we had this summer. Sometimes these initiatives are Kickstarter campaigns and funding isn’t there. In terms of the level of community involvement, I want to continue this in future summers.”