Class develops QR codes to share history of food on campus

More than 40 QR codes scattered across campus are entry points to digital stories about the history and evolution of food at Lake Forest College. The project, completed by students in Introduction to Public History, is one example of how the campus is engaging with this year’s academic theme of food.

Students in Professor of History Alan Teller’s class turned to primary sources, including interviews with alumni and Arthur Miller, archivist and librarian for Special Collections, to discover these stories from the past. For example, they learned in their research that, back in the day, men and women used to sit separately from each other in the dining room, Tara Busse ’13 said.

Turning to old copies of the Forester for her research, Busse reports in her Bowling and Beers digital presentation about how the space now used as a mailroom first was a bowling alley and then a pub.

“It was interesting grabbing a yearbook from the ’20s. It’s fun to see the change,” she said.

Torey Cornblath ’14 researched the events leading up to the food riot in 1967, the food riot itself, and the aftermath.

“To do this, I interviewed a Lake Forest alum who played a key role in the food riot and in the changes to the cafeteria afterwards,” he said. “Learning about the food riot was a ton of fun. Since our cafeteria is actually really good nowadays, it was surprising to hear that they used to serve green meat or spam regularly.”

Every student found a different story and created at least five QR codes to direct visitors to digital presentations in the form of videos, photographs, and more. The codes are placed appropriately around campus to show the College community how the history of campus as it relates to food comes into play in each particular location. For example, a QR code on a vending machine leads to a photo of the first-ever vending machine on campus, Busse said.

Introduction to Public History in part asks students to look at exhibits as curators. Teller’s activity asked students to do many things: collaborate to create their own exhibit, write papers, use technology to build presentations and QR codes, and use the mystery of the codes around campus to lure visitors.

The students’ research is housed on the Digital Collections webpage, and the QR codes will be up on campus for a year.