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SKIDMORE COLLEGE
“Plumb the archives,
conduct some interviews, and cover six decades’ worth of history—our assignment
was simple,” quips Phoebe Radcliffe ’17. It was part of the Skidmore Saratoga Memory Project, an arm of the
Moore Documentary Studies Collaborative. As MDOCS has blossomed since its launch in 2014, the Memory
Project has quickly developed a cache of oral histories from alumni, retired faculty, influential Saratogians,
and others. For her project, Radcliffe worked with four other students and two professors to create a video and
exhibition for the Saratoga Adult and Senior Center’s 60th anniversary.
“One semester’s worth of work turned to two,” she says, as the researchers collected box after box of news
clippings, photos, and office paperwork. The students’ favorite documents included handwritten memos and
schedules, the center’s inaugural newsletter, and other artifacts from the 1950s and ’60s. Interviews with staff
and regulars brought to life “the story of a progressive center that was one of the first in a national movement
to grow from a ‘Golden Age Club’ in 1955 to the active, engaging center it is today,” says Radcliffe. As one inter-
viewee explains in the video, “It’s a place to learn, a place to teach, a place to meet people.”
Radcliffe, a social work and Spanish major, joined Eli Ruben ’17, a business major, to present the group’s work at
Academic Festival last spring. Along with social work professor Crystal Moore, they were mentored by MDOCS’s di-
rector Jordana Dym, a historian and scholar of maps as cultural and political documents. Dym says the
60 Years Young
documentary was just one of the MDOCS-fostered projects “that students have really poured their hearts into.” It was
they who asked to extend the project, she notes, and “even to devote time over their breaks to make sure the story
came through.” Documentary work seems to inspire “an ethos of sticking with it and digging deeper,” she observes.
Mashabl
riBeCa
Documentary and media studies are going places.
by Susan Rosenberg
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