DDFR Roadshow Visits Northeastern University!


Filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris visited Northeastern University in Boston, MA as a guest speaker on October 11th. His presentation was hosted by professor William Lancaster from the communication studies department and showcased Harris’ Emmy nominated film Through A Lens Darkly and a mini-DDFR multimedia demonstration for students and faculty of Northeastern University.


After his presentation, the students from different cultures and backgrounds including Asia, the Caribbean and Europe shared their own family photographs and amazing stories spanning over 150 years and it was full of tears and laughter.



img_8310rThomas Allen Harris brings a fascinating perspective to the field of communication studies. In our era of contrived and distorted images, it is so refreshing to tap into family photographs as an authentic trove of our humanity.

– Prof. William Lancaster

With Harris’ talk and discussion, I was able to reflect more on the process of archiving photos. I’m definitely concerned about the longevity of our digital footprints, so I’m hoping to take  some time to make physical copies of my photos. It was also interesting to hear the stories of the students and faculty members at Northeastern. I’ve been around Northeastern for a while (as a grad student, employee, etc.) and I’m always meeting people with different cultures and backgrounds who are brought together by the common bond of Northeastern. This was another great opportunity to expand my world view and learn more about the individual pieces which make up our Northeastern community.
– Kira Novak img_8579

Also, Antonia, Communication Studies major and aspiring writer at Northeastern University shared her great-great grandfather’s yearbook with the Digital Diaspora Family Reunionteam, telling us her family stories.


Antonia : “Since I was old enough to totter into a Kindergarten classroom, my mother has instilled in me the importance of education. This is, in part, because she’s a teacher, but also because she comes from a long line of African American men and women who prided themselves on obtaining an education, even when it was hard for them to do so”
“As a reminder of these values, my great uncle on my mother’s side gifted me with a copy of my great great grandfather, Charles Turner’s, yearbook from pharmacology school. Charles graduated in the class of 1918, and his yearbook tells a story of that time.”

antonia1“This is Charles’s picture and biography written by the yearbook staff who were, of course, white. Although his bio does mention the fact that he contributed to the yearbook by doing most of the art work, it’s hard to think that the statement he is “not brilliant”  (written by the staff) had nothing to do with the racial outlooks of the early 20th century.”

“The biographies of some of the other, very few, minority students in the yearbook reflected similar biases. For example, Charles’s Chinese classmate is described as “an elegant representative” from “far off China,” clearly playing into the mystic stereotypes of the far East.”



“These images and descriptions reflect a more negative narrative in the yearbook. However, the image of the sorority, Delta Omega Phi, I find to be incredibly uplifting. I love this photo because it features a group of women who were all striving for an education in the medical field at a time when they couldn’t even vote, and the look on every face is of such defiance and determination that it fills me with a resolve of my own to carry on a legacy of education these ladies paved the way for.”

To see more photos from the roadshow, click here.




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