iSchool Research Showcase Winners Share Projects Based on Refugee Resettlement and Racist Housing Policies

iSchool Research Showcase Winners Share Projects Based on Refugee Resettlement and Racist Housing Policies

The 2017 iSchool Research Showcase was a poster display and competition featuring the research of PhD students, masters students, iSchool faculty, and iSchool labs. Coordinated by Dr. Katy Lawley and Gagan Jindal, the March 3rd event highlighted work from 42 groups and a broad range of tropics.  Congratulations to the three winners! Their projects are featured here:

Amira In America (Andrea Castillo, MLIS, Carmen Collins, MLIS, Liz Laribee, MLIS, Dolly Martino, MLIS)
Amira In America is a short comic book geared toward young readers. It tells the story of a young Syrian girl named Amira, and the connection she makes with her Ethiopian teacher. Both are refugees to the US, and the dual narrative traces a few common experiences for what it’s like to navigate a new home.  The book contains several coloring pages as a nod to the vast majority of refugee children who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; art therapy is a growing methodof rehabilitation for these children, and the research behind the project delves further into that. The book concludes with a resource section detailing national organizations and initiatives designed to aid refugees in their orientation.  The project was constructed as a pathfinder: a guide for readers to gain information on resources for refugees who are navigating resettlement in the US. It is distributed at no cost through several library systems including in DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Denver. Further iterations of this project will include other refugee narratives as well as translation into several languages. (Read more)

Mapping Inequality (Dr. Richard Marciano, Dr. LaDale Winling, N. D. B. Connolly, Dr. Robert Nelson, Mary Kendig, Myeong Lee, Sydney Vaile, Shaina Destine, Darlene Reyes, Maddie Allen, Erin Duram, Benjamin Sagey, Martin Moreno, Jhon Dela Cruz)
Utilizing archival practices and digital curation techniques, Mapping Inequality aims to transform historical documents into accessible digital records and display their content in new, innovative ways. The 1929 stock market crashed in triggered a devastating economic depression, which resulted in families losing their homes to foreclosure. The Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) was born out of federal funding to assess the housing and neighborhood conditions so banks knew where (and where not) to give out loans. These findings were translated into maps with green, blue, yellow, and red outlines, with each color representing the “good” and “bad” areas for housing. The institutions involved in this research have been working diligently for four years to digitize the documents and maps, extract the information, and make the data accessible to the public through the creation of a usable database. Researchers are coming extremely close to finishing up data transcription. (Read more)

Journey Of The Refugees (Sohan Shah, MIM, Yuting Lao, PhD, Pal Doshi, MIM, Ruchira Kapoor, MIM, Torra Hausmann, MLS)
On May 13, 1939, the German transatlantic liner St. Louis sailed from Hamburg, Germany, for Havana, Cuba. On the voyage were 937 passengers. Almost all were Jews fleeing from the Third Reich. Most were German citizens, some were from eastern Europe, and a few were officially "stateless." The majority of the Jewish passengers had applied for US visas, and had planned to stay in Cuba only until they could enter the United States. But by the time the St. Louis sailed, there were signs that political conditions in Cuba might keep the passengers from landing there. The US State Department in Washington, the US consulate in Havana, some Jewish organizations, and refugee agencies were all aware of the situation. The passengers themselves were not informed; most were compelled to return to Europe and were denied entry.

The passengers did not return to Germany, however. Jewish organizations (particularly the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) negotiated with four European governments to secure entry visas for the passengers: Great Britain took 288 passengers; the Netherlands admitted 181 passengers, Belgium took in 214 passengers; and 224 passengers found at least temporary refuge in France. Of the 288 passengers admitted by Great Britain, all survived World War II save one, who was killed during an air raid in 1940. Of the 620 passengers who returned to continent, 87 (14%) managed to emigrate before the German invasion of Western Europe in May 1940. 532 St. Louis passengers were trapped when Germany conquered Western Europe. Just over half, 278 survived the Holocaust. 254 died: 84 who had been in Belgium; 84 who had found refuge in Holland, and 86 who had been admitted to France. Using archival records, the United States Holocaust Museum extracted data and recorded over 6000 events indicating the fate and location of each passenger. The data was originally stored in Microsoft Access; however, the organization would like another repository. Utilizing digital curation tools, the St. Louis Voyage project aims to use data analytics to visualize the people, places, and events associated with all 937 passengers. Furthermore, the St. Louis Voyage team will build a repository to store and query the records.