Heritage Hall goes digital

Heritage Hall has worked to bring their archive into the digital age. Since October, the archive for the university, seminary and CRC has created an online presence including a blog and a Facebook page. The pages are meant to promote stories of Dutch North American immigrants as well as CRC churches, communities and individuals. Some of these stories are adapted from stories run in Heritage Hall’s journal publication, “Origins.” Others are new stories based on Heritage Hall material or news about new collections and what staff are doing. 

“The idea was from Professor Katerberg,” said student worker Caleb Ackerman, who’s been working on the project. Dr. William Katerberg, the interim curator, asked himself when he started last February, “What can I do in the year and a half I’m doing this to hand off to the next person?” and he came up with the idea of creating a blog and a Facebook page.

“‘Origins’ itself had no online presence so our hope was to create this blog as a way to start spreading ‘Origins’’ online presence,” said Ackerman. The official launch of the blog was Oct. 31. When he started this year, Ackerman said the archive’s online presence was minimal. He said, “The best you had was PDF copies of older issues [of “Origins”]… that were on the library website… So professor Katerberg wanted to move us into the 21st century by creating a Facebook page — that was our main goal — and then creating a blog.”

When it comes to starting the project, Ackerman said, “The first thing I did was I helped start up the Facebook page. I helped come up with a plan of how we were going to push that out to people.” One of the challenges “Origins” faces as a publication is its niche audience. “Our biggest struggle is how do we get our name out to the people who care… it’s been a challenge, but we’ve also been able to find some success in it so that’s refreshing.” Ackerman continued, saying, “We’ve had something like 75 followers since we started the [Facebook] page which has been really encouraging to me.” Additionally, Ackerman said that a Facebook page provided a happy medium for reaching “Origin’s” audience and formatting information.

Heritage Hall’s blog, “Origins Online,” has posts written by Katerberg, as well as student workers and volunteers. “I decided early on that I didn’t want my voice to be the only voice,” he said. Students should look for an upcoming blog post about a postcard collection Heritage Hall has recently acquired, Katerberg said. In relation to other students getting involved, Katerberg said, “If students have done a paper related to some aspect of the university, seminary, or denomination’s history, or the history of Dutch North America or Reformed intellectual and institutional history and they were interested in publishing something, I’d be happy to work with a student doing a blog post.”

Ackerman and Katerberg said Heritage Hall has great resources for students to use for research assignments ranging from history to political science and public health. Students are welcomed to walk in during the archive’s regular hours, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and receive research help from the workers or volunteers there. Students can also view the blog at https://origins.calvin.edu/