posted March 13, 2013

Student’s Research on Ruth Keppel of Holland Chosen for National Event

A Hope College student’s research centered on a long-lived local resident who was passionate about the Holland community has earned national recognition.

Senior Madalyn Muncy of Warren is one of only 60 undergraduates nationwide chosen to participate in the annual “Posters on the Hill” reception organized by the Council on Undergraduate Research” on Wednesday, April 24.  She was chosen for her project “The Holland Historian:  Ruth Keppel and Holland, Michigan’s Collective Historical Memory.”

It is the fourth year in a row that a Hope student’s research has been chosen.

The “Posters on the Hill” event will be held on Capitol Hill in the Rayburn Office Building from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., with other activities for the students earlier in the day.  Each student will present his or her research, displayed on posters, to the members of Congress, congressional staff members, federal government officials and others in attendance.

Keppel, who lived from 1896 to 1993, spent most of her life in Holland except for a few years away for college.  Trained as a violinist and initially a music teacher in the Holland schools, she was extensively involved in the community.  Her family had been among Holland’s pioneers, and she became an active local historian who wrote on a variety of topics throughout her life, her early work including “From Trees to Tulips,” produced for Holland’s 1947 centennial celebration.

“She did this incredible amount of work, and she just wanted to sustain the heritage and history of the city that she cared so much for,” said Muncy, an English major who is minoring in creative writing and history.

Muncy’s research project reflects on Keppel’s life and Keppel’s goal, as she expressed in a 1981 interview, “to leave my city something worthwhile.  And I’m trying to do that with my historical information.”

Making extensive use of both the Joint Archives of Holland at Hope and the Holland Museum Archives, Muncy created a multi-media website that discusses not only Ruth Keppel but also the history of Holland and the Keppel family.  The site includes a 22-minute documentary that features audio of Keppel herself, recorded for an oral history project.  The material is available online at http://hope.edu/academic/mellon/holland-historian/

It is history that even connects directly to Hope.   The college’s Keppel House at 129 E. 10th St., which houses Hope’s Campus Ministries program, was Keppel’s longtime home.  Built by her parents, Albert and Kate Keppel, in 1914, it was purchased by Hope in 1986.

Muncy’s project began as a paper written for the fall 2011 “American Women Writers” class taught by Dr. Natalie Dykstra, associate professor of English.  Muncy expanded her initial research into the website during the summer of 2012 through her participation in the college’s “Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholars Program.”

Muncy’s activities at Hope include serving as co-editor-in-chief of the “Anchor” weekly student newspaper, as publicity chair this past fall of the Nykerk Cup competition, as communications director for the college’s chapter of the Mortar Board honorary society and as the student blogger for the Van Wylen Library.  She is a past participant in the college’s Washington Honors Semester, through which she interned with both the Office of the Federal Register and the U.S. Department of Education.

She is the daughter of Robert and Mary Anne Muncy of Warren, and a 2009 graduate of Warren Mott High School.

Founded in 1978, CUR is a national organization of individual and institutional members representing more than 900 colleges and universities. CUR and its affiliated colleges, universities, and individuals share a focus on providing undergraduate research opportunities for faculty and students at all institutions serving undergraduate students. CUR believes that faculty members enhance their teaching and contribution to society by remaining active in research and by involving undergraduates in research.

The three-year “Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholars Program” at Hope, which students join as sophomores, involves select students in the arts and humanities in coursework and research in areas of scholarly interest with faculty mentors from a variety of academic disciplines, with a particular emphasis on teaching the students how to use new and emerging digital technologies in pursuing and sharing their work.  Last year’s CUR participant from Hope, senior Katie Callam of Holland, is also a participant in the Mellon Scholars Program.