Archives Alive History
The Vineland Archives Alive Project began in April of 1999 as an idea that started in conversation between a teacher, Christopher M. Snyder, and the Supervisor of Social Studies, Jeanne Doremus. They were in review of a lesson that he had conducted and the subject of preservation of historical documents became a new topic of discussion. Mrs. Doremus spoke of an Archive of Vineland Public Schools materials that was being stored in the Vineland Board of Education (BOE) offices. She mentioned that the material was invaluable and that there was a chance that the achive room was going to be used for other purposes. She was unsure what would become of these historical pieces if the room was going to serve another purpose. She felt the only way to ensure that the materials would be safe were if teachers would begin to use the items/documents within the context of their classroom. Mr. Snyder began to use this opportunity to inform Mrs. Doremus of an idea he had about using the Internet to discover local history. It was at this time that Mr. Snyder told Mrs. Doremus that he could use the materials inside of the BOE to create web pages of relevant material from the Archive room. Mrs. Doremus viewed this as a wonderful opportunity to make use of the materials and have an easily accessible source for students, teachers and parents to gain knowledge of their local history.
After creating several web sites with information used from the BOE Archives room, Mr. Snyder brainstormed that this could be made into a project that students could use to enhance their own technology skills and gain information about the city in which they live. He approached Mrs. Doremus with an idea of expanding the project to include students who showed an aptitude for learning and an integrity toward their studies. With the approval of Mrs. Doremus, Richard Flaim, and Julie Botel, Mr. Snyder recruited twelve students in December of 1999 to participate in a project that would enhance their skills in technology and research. All twelve students were receptive to the idea and Mr. Snyder pursued a course of action that would allow students to learn new software programs for web building and design by creating "home pages" about themselves. He felt that this would allow students to create pages that focused on something that they knew about (themselves) and would give them a chance to become familiar with the new programs. Deadlines were set on completion of those sites. Those that did not follow through were to be excused from the project because he felt it was essential to have dedication and loyalty in order for the project to succeed.
As the summer of 2000 approached, Mr. Snyder was down to five students who had completed all of the requirements that he had set for the students to maintain. It was at this time that Mr. Snyder felt that this project would be a good candidate for a School to Careers approach for summer employment. He spoke to the Schools to Careers coordinator, Joe Keenan, and asked if this could be possible. Mr. Keenan readily agreed and the Archives Project headed in a new direction. Now an incentive was in place to have students research, create and edit premier web pages on the history of Vineland, NJ.
At the end of the summer of 2000, six new web sites were created by the students who participated. The creation of Veterans of Vineland, The Landis Theater, Remembering the Holocaust, the History of Vineland Public Schools, Sports Archives, and Community Leaders of the Past demonstrated how "students used an independent workers" could successfully complete research normally associated with seniors in college. Mr. Snyder worked as the director, editor, publisher, chauffeur, teacher and friend to ensure success of the pupils and the project.
In December of 2000, Mr. Snyder recruited twelve new students to participate in the project. Out of that twelve, five made the cut. They continued to learn new software programs as well as the use of digital cameras and flatbed scanners. The new students were mentored by the previous year's students on a variety of programs and were able to become very successful rather quickly on the software applications.
Mr. Snyder was a history teacher at Vineland High School North and an assistant baseball coach to the VHS Varsity baseball team. He also maintained a web site for the Athletics at VHS and created "Jersey Tom" the Archives Alive mascot. The mascot was created to attract a younger viewing audience. Although Mr. Snyder is now at another school district, his dedication to Vineland Public Schools is still alive and well. His legacy will continue with our archive, which is going into its seventeenth year.