Happy Birthday, William & Mary!

Reflecting on the university's 331 years
February 5, 2024 to April 21, 2024

This project re-considers a 1993 t-shirt, preserved in the University Archives, which celebrates the 300th anniversary of William & Mary’s royal charter by providing an illustrated timeline of the university’s history. In interpreting the t-shirt as a site of memory, we were struck by the choices the creators made—not only the events they chose to include and exalt, but especially what they forgot or chose to exclude from a celebratory retelling of William & Mary’s history. The 1993 rendition of the university’s history represented a selective, privileged narrative that failed to acknowledge the complexities of the Alma Mater of the Nation.

Thus, we invited a broad, interdisciplinary community of William & Mary individuals, small groups, and organizations to create their own t-shirts which share their telling of institutional history. The goal of this project is not to create a single, definite timeline of the institution’s history but to invite people of diverse backgrounds and experiences to spark conversations about our institutional history and create a space where more democratic experiences can be heard and valued. Our project intends to better acknowledge and celebrate marginalized people whose contributions to campus have been excluded or ignored.

We are eager to foster these conversations of history, memory, and reconciliation in our current moment of deep reckoning. These t-shirts provide a timeline of institutional history and connect the interpretations of the university’s timeline to our broader nation’s history. The dialogue we will cultivate at William & Mary will serve as a microcosm of conversations we hope the nation can have as we bring more narratives of the past to encourage a more democratic future. So, what events would you consider in telling William & Mary’s history?

Special thanks to our project participants: Lemon Project, William & Mary's Highland, History Club, Spotswood Society, and American Indian Resource Center.

Curators: Mitzy Colligan ‘24, History Major and Classical Studies Minor; Tyler Goldberger MA ‘20, PhD Candidate in History and Special Collections Instruction and Research Associate

Graphic Design: Jennie Davy, Exhibits & Artifacts Curator

Installation: Mitzy Colligan; Tyler Goldberger; Jennie Davy; Ali Zawoyski, University Archivist; Faith Page '26, Special Collections Student Assistant; and Sierra Manja '26, Special Collections Student Assistant