Tracing Race at Iowa State University

Nov 16, 2020 · Nacuya Rucker

New digital scholarship initiative to expand Iowa State’s historical narrative and highlight experiences of Cyclones of color

The Tracing Race at Iowa State University Initiative is a new effort to encourage, support, and facilitate digital scholarship projects that center the history and experiences of people of color within the Iowa State community. Through this initiative, created in summer 2020, the University Library seeks to reveal the under-documented history of accomplishments and experiences of people of color; and engage with the history of race, inequality, racism, and student, faculty and staff activism on and off campus.

“The Tracing Race program is an excellent opportunity for us to tell a more inclusive story of the university by incorporating the voices, experiences, and contributions of people of color that were overlooked,” said Hilary Seo, interim dean of the University Library. “It is also an opportunity for our students to connect with these individuals' struggles and accomplishments as they delve into the research process and bring to light little-known, but vital, aspects of our history.”

The program comes at a time when many universities are confronting the difficult histories of their institutions by uncovering hidden stories and voices in their archives and making them openly available, often through digital means.

Erin Anderson, digital scholarship librarian and project lead for Tracing Race at Iowa State University, and Hannah Scates Kettler, head of Digital Scholarship and Initiatives, spent this summer working alongside an interdisciplinary advisory committee that represents a wide range of campus departments. Next spring, the committee will solicit, collect, and evaluate project proposals and select digital projects for inclusion in the initiative. 

“We realize many may not be familiar with the work that our department does or the projects we can support, so we encourage anyone with an interest in participating in this initiative, whether your digital project plan is fully formed or you just have an idea for a research topic, to reach out to Digital Scholarship and Initiatives prior to submitting a proposal,” said Anderson.

Through this project, the university will provide space and support for faculty and student research that elevates primary source materials in teaching, learning, and research. This initiative will allow for creative remixing and cultural expression of the faculty and student body through these materials and expand the narrative of our collective history.

For updates and more on the Tracing Race at Iowa State University Initiative, contact Erin Anderson at

The 2020 Advisory Committee consists of:

  • Erin Anderson, Digital Scholarship Librarian, University Library
  • Hannah Scates Kettler, Digital Scholarship and Initiatives Head, University Library
  • Brian Behnken, Associate Professor, History and Latino/a Studies; Affiliate Faculty, African and African American Studies
  • Theressa Cooper, Assistant Dean for Diversity, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Susan Vega Garcia, Assistant Dean for Diversity Equity and Inclusion, University Library
  • Japannah Kellogg, Director of the NCORE-ISCORE Office, Division of Student Affairs
  • José Antonio Rosa, Professor, John and Deborah Ganoe Faculty Fellow; Faculty Fellow, Office of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Kenyatta Shamburger, Assistant Dean, Dean of Students Office; Director, Multicultural Student Affairs
  • Denise Williams-Klotz, Assistant Director, Multicultural Student Affairs