Stories of the Susquehanna Valley began to emerge in 2004 from a partnership between Bucknell University faculty and the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition, a consortium of several universities in the mid-Susquehanna watershed, and an outgrowth of the Coalition, the Susquehanna Colloquium. Officially organized in 2010, the project provided research to support designation of the Susquehanna River as part of the Chesapeake historic water trail system by the National Park Service in 2012, in partnership with the Chesapeake Conservancy. It published its first two books in 2013. During this time, components of the project and faculty scholars have received support from sources ranging from the National Endowment for the Humanities, for Katherine Faull’s work on Moravian culture in the Valley, to Luce Foundation support for historical-cultural curricular offerings. More recently, Stories of the Susquehanna Valley has become a partner with the Envision the Susquehanna coalition in helping to provide interpretation of the Susquehanna historic corridor.
This book series, published by Bucknell University Press, develops interdisciplinary and multimedia approaches to the concept of region, place, and ethics in environmental studies. While including a range of disciplines — from sciences and social sciences to literature and philosophy, volumes in the series articulate narratives of an eco-region that played a formative role in the early republic, and which today provides potential models for more environmentally sustainable approaches to human community. with accompanying digital materials.
Stories of the Susquehanna Valley includes a digital mapping project that aims to interpret and articulate the varying forms of community we find in the Susquehanna River corridor, in maps, videos, and other media. This project draws on scholarly frameworks to also include undergraduate students in digital academic projects, while also engaging community mappers. This digital mapping is multimedia, incorporating GIS, visualization of stories through a combination of imagery and text, and videography ranging from oral history interviews to documentaries. The goal over time is to develop a digital atlas that connects scholarly projects ranging from human history and community studies to natural history, focusing on the river corridor in interactive ways with communities in the region. This is being done through work on geographic segments at the Confluence, on the North Branch, West Branch, and Lower Susquehanna areas of the watershed, and involves collaborations across academic institutions.
A group of students have been working with Prof. Alfred K. Siewers on a project involving mapping and developing narrative and video documentary on landholdings along the North Branch associated with the family of Joseph Priestley and the neighboring settlement of French Azilum. Both were linked to utopian projects that swept through the Valley in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the wake of the military removal of Indian nations from the watershed.
In 2009 the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded Professor Katherine Faull a collaborative research grant ($116,000) to translate, edit and disseminate the vitally important manuscripts that constitute the Moravian mission diary of the strategic Native American “capital” of the 18th century woodlands Indians at Shamokin, Pennsylvania (today, Sunbury). This collection of manuscripts (written primarily in German with a few sections in English) was written by 10 different missionaries, including the young David Zeisberger, perhaps the most famous observer of Native American life before John Heckewelder (whose work acted as a source for Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales).