University Park, IL,
14:39 PM

Southland History Collective: Preserving history one piece at a time

Two side by side professional headshots of two smiling women

Since receiving a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion mini grant in September for their project, the Southland History Collective, Governors State University (GovState) Professors Drs. Lisa Pennington and Megan VanGorder have been building a team and mapping a plan to bring this collective to life.

At this point, a team of historians, teacher educators, librarians and students have been established to work together to find the best methods for creating a sustainable collective — one that will archive the voices and histories of marginalized communities, those often overlooked in broader historical narratives, and become a research destination for local educators, teacher candidates, and researchers during their curriculum development and original research.

As the collection is curated, efforts will focus on regional histories that include indigenous people, freedom seekers on the Underground Railroad, and housing, community development and integration.

“I’m excited to be a part of the work preserving local stories and teaching GovState how to interpret local stories,” said VanGorder, Assistant Professor of History, on the Collective’s archival efforts. “And I’m thrilled that GovState will be set to become a recognized site for research on these topics.”

While they’re in the early beginnings of the project, the team has been writing grants to gain more financial support to begin hiring student workers to engage in historical research and preservation, orchestrating a logo design contest and planning events for the spring to generate interest in the collective.

Any student or alumni can partake in the logo design contest, which is running through January 15, 2024 and offering a $250 prize for the chosen artist. Some of the requirements include featuring the Collective’s name in the logo, along with design elements relevant to library archives and the Chicago Southland communities. For more information on contest rules, email Megan VanGorder at

While the events don’t have set dates yet, they will include a panel of historians on the Chicago Southland Underground Railroad, a community forum of local historical societies on Southland topics of concern, and a day-long professional development session for local history teachers on Southland topics and pedagogies. Keep an eye on GovState’s event calendar for more details as they become available.