All photos: “Skateland Photo Collage (Item No. BP-53)” (2019). All Skateland Photograph Collages. View All.

Humanities Research for the Public Good Project: Skateland: Oral History and Community Archive

“We want to share the entire collection of photos with the Skateland community. We know these are important to personal histories of Skateland skaters. The library is working with faculty and student researchers to collect the memories of the Skateland skaters in order to tell an important social and cultural history of Buffalo. If there are Skateland skaters who would share their stories with us, they can contact me below or send email to:”
– Melissa Peterson, Director, RIC and Library Services at Daemen College.

With the goal of addressing overlooked history of African Americans in Buffalo and elsewhere, The Skateland Project will seek out, record, and put on display the oral histories that will reveal much that we don’t know and haven’t documented about the childhood and leisure experiences of this historic Buffalo community. 

In the summer of 2018 the Daemen College Library gratefully accepted a photograph collage collection they are calling “The Skateland Collection.” This collection contains thousands of photographs arranged in hundreds of photographic collages; images of young roller skaters from the early 1980s to present. The project goal is to engage the community first in an oral history project based on interviews with the people in the Skateland photos and then to present the images and oral histories to the western New York community. Daemen undergraduate students will be engaged in every step of the project.Historically an African-American and immigrant community, Buffalo New York’s east-side community has been home to Kiddie Skateland for over 40 years. Kiddie Skateland is a roller rink that has been owned and operated by the same married couple, Sue and Trunnis Goggins, until Trunnis passed away in 2015. Preparing for her own retirement, Sue began disposing of the photographs of her beloved customers until a concerned community member, Barrett Gordon, intervened. Through WNY Library Resources Council, the library team at Daemen College learned of this unique collection and made the commitment to preserve and provide access to this important collection of photographs. The Daemen College library has digitized the photos in their original collage arrangements and is working to make these images available to both the Daemen and local communities via our institutional repository. In the fall and spring semesters in the 2019-20 academic year, students taking an oral history class (offered through the Department of History and Political Science) will make contact with the Skateland community via social media to arrange interviews. Journalism and public relations students will collaborate with the oral history students to disseminate the stories to the public. The interviews and photos will continue to be available on the institutional repository and inspire scholarship and creative works to scholars at Daemen and beyond.
As you can see, the scanned collages don’t make for the greatest viewing on digital, so there will also be a public exhibit and reception event of the photo collection as well as the student-collected personal narratives in spring 2020.
Daemen’s community partners include CEPA Gallery, Open Buffalo, and Barrett Gordon through the WASH Project.