This spring, anthropology professor Dianna Shandy asked her students to partner up for a semester-long assignment—not with one another, but with women 80–95 years old. Through a collaboration with the local women’s literary society New Century Club, students conducted several life history interviews with members and heard stories about working as a judge, flying planes, and editing a newspaper. They also learned what Mac was like decades ago, thanks to two alumnae who shared their perspectives.

At the end of the semester, the Life Histories, Cultures, Selves class deposited the transcripts in the Minnesota Historical Society Archives and hosted the women for high tea at Briggs House to celebrate the collaboration. And the bonds that formed quickly didn’t end when the final papers were turned in: several pairs plan to continue meeting through the summer and beyond. “One student told me that she didn’t grow up with grandparents and was thrilled to have this bond,” Shandy says. “A college campus can be a demographic bubble—you don’t often get to experience these intergenerational relationships. The human connection was so valuable for these students.”

July 25 2018

Back to top