This project began in the fall of 2011 in my American Women Writers class. I was looking for a late nineteenth century local woman to do original archival research on. Upon visiting both of Holland's local archives, I found that there were only a handfull of women's documents from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that I could work with. Ruth Keppel's papers were among them, and upon doing a quick look through the collection, I decided to spend my semester getting to know Ruth and her family better.
Under the supervision of Professor Natalie Dykstra, I produced a paper entitled, "The Holland Historian: Ruth Keppel and Constructing Holland's Collective Memory." The paper focused heavily on archival theory and local history, in other words how communities remember and record. I placed Ruth within the theory and included biographical information on her.
Wanting to revisit the Keppels and expand my project even further, I procured a summer fellowship grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Scholars Program at Hope College under the supervision of Geoffrey Reynolds, Holland Joint-Archives Director. My vision for the project was to delve deeper into the Keppel collection and really spend as much time as possible getting to know the Keppels better. In addition, I expanded my paper to include more local history. This website and its accompanying documentary serve as dissemination of my work.
Since beginning this project, my hope above all has always been to tell Ruth's story. She was a strong, fascinating and devoted woman. Though I have applied theories and found ways to relate her to a larger scholarly argument, I believe her story is the most important part of this project. It is my hope that I have captured the true Ruth Keppel in order to share her with others.