Soon after the tragedy of May 23, 2014, an Ad-Hoc Memorial Preservation Group consisting of UCSB faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, administrators, librarians, and alumni formed to ensure that historical materials related to the tragedy would not be lost. The UC Santa Barbara Library agreed to preserve and make accessible a representative sample of condolence items and records documenting the University’s response to the event. The May 23, 2014 Isla Vista Memorial Archive is now available for research in the UCSB Library’s Department of Special Research Collections.
From May 20 – August 13, 2015, items from this collection were displayed in an exhibition, We Remember Them: Acts of Love and Compassion in Isla Vista, marking the one-year anniversary of the tragedy. The central premise of the exhibition was that items left at memorial sites, and other items generated in the wake of the tragedy, were representations of acts of love and compassion. One of the main purposes of the exhibition was to help create a space for healing and reflection. The bombardment of media upon our community made it difficult for students and the larger community to grieve privately. Many complained that the media was more focused on the violence of the perpetrator than on the lives of the victims. This exhibition was an effort to “tell our own stories for ourselves,” and to help students feel empowered in the process.
Students were involved in the project from the beginning. During the Fall 2015 quarter, a group of undergraduate interns and an alumni volunteer scanned materials for the collection. During the Spring 2015 quarter, undergraduates enrolled in a History 192 DR (directed readings) course on Isla Vista community history and memorialization helped to process and describe the collection as well as prepare the exhibition. Library student workers continued to work on the collection finding aid.
We Remember Them: Acts of Love and Compassion in Isla Vista was curated by Melissa Barthelemy, PhD candidate, UCSB Department of History.
Tour the exhibition below: