Building a connection between Geneseo students and community members is the goal of the student-run Geneseo Memories Campaign club. Club members work to achieve this through interviewing senior citizens and printing their life stories in chapbooks for the members’ families and Milne Library.
The Memories Campaign started in 2012 as an Edgar Fellows Senior Capstone project where students went into their community to interview senior citizens.
History and American studies double major sophomore Katherine Peter is president of the Memories Campaign.
“We interview [the senior citizens] about their lives growing up in Geneseo and things they have done here,” Peter said. “The histories are made into chapbooks given back the seniors and archived in our library.”
The club feels that the Geneseo campus has a hard time connecting to the village because of a lack of communication with the residents that live there.
English major sophomore Kayla Glennon is assistant editor and interviewer for the Geneseo Memories Campaign. They enjoy connecting with senior citizens.
“There are not a lot of connections [between students and citizens],” Glennon said. “We are pretty separate in our campus, but we want to keep a connection and make sure we are involved in the community.”
By recording the lives of residents that have lived in Geneseo since they were young, the campaign hopes to make residents more approachable to students and create bonds between the club and the community.
“We try to preserve their voices and make sure their voices are heard,” Glennon said.
The history of Geneseo is important to understand for those living in the town, even if only for the four years students spend in undergraduate programs.
“Our goal is to preserve the oral history of Geneseo as a lot of it comes from people who have been here for generations and generations,” Peter said. “A lot of them are such integral parts of the history of Geneseo but don’t necessarily get into history books.”
She continued to speak of the seniors who became teachers in Geneseo after attending school here themselves.
“So much of the town is built by people who have lived here for generations and I think that is important to preserve as much as we can,” Peter said.
Creating chapbooks is expensive because of printing fees, but the Memories Campaign hopes to continue its legacy. The club is having a fundraiser on March 2 at 7 p.m. at the Riviera to raise money in support of publishing more oral histories. The Riviera will be showing the 1985 comedic mystery movie Clue. All ticket sales will go toward printing the chapbooks.
“We have a movie every year to raise funds to print books,” Glennon said. “We like to pick movies that will connect the different generations so people from the community and from the campus will come together.”
The club is also seeking out new members as they continue to create more books and coordinate interviews. They meet every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Sturges 221.
“We need as many people as possible, it is a big undertaking to make so many books,” Peter said. “There are so many different roles, it is not all interviewing and editing.”
The club works with many residents and gives the members a great opportunity to meet locals and learn something new.
“My favorite part is either listening or talking to the residents, it is so nice to make it real,” Glennon said. “It’s interesting to read about someone’s life but it’s really interesting to meet them.”
The fundraiser is a great opportunity for Geneseo students to give back to the Memories Campaign to help continue communication with the community.