Keely Smith *24 and Alyssa Lloyd receive 2024 Princeton Research Day Library Award

Undergraduate student Alyssa Lloyd and graduate student Keely Smith *24 were awarded 2024 Princeton University Library (PUL) Awards at Princeton Research Day in recognition of their research projects using Library resources. 

A mix of 30 undergraduate and graduate students submitted their Princeton Research Day project videos for consideration for the Library Award, with Smith and Lloyd receiving the honors. 

Now in its third iteration, the Library Award presents winners with a $1,000 cash prize, for creating a video that “clearly articulated thoughtful or innovative use of Library resources and services.”

Muscogee Language Archive

Smith’s winning submission was based around her dissertation, titled “Communicating Sovereignty: A History of the Muscogee Language and Communication Networks.” In it, she used oral and written materials from PUL Special Collections to argue that “Muscogee people in the 18th and 19th centuries used their language to structure categories of belonging, family networks, and mutual obligations that manifested a form of sovereignty based on uniquely Muscogee ways.”  

The items Smith used included “Mvskoke” (spelling differs depending on the resource used) language sources on microfilm among other Special Collections holdings. PUL staff helped advise Smith on best research practices and how to ethically use Indigenous language materials in scholarship.

Liz Colagiuri, deputy dean of the college, presented graduate student Keely Smith with the Princeton University Library Award. P

Liz Colagiuri presented graduate student Keely Smith with the Princeton University Library Award. Photo by Sameer A Khan.

“Using the right search terms is often a challenge when working with Indigenous languages,” Smith explained. “As an example, I study the ‘Mvskoke’ language, which can also be spelled ‘Maskoke,’ ‘Muscogee,’ ‘Muskogee,’ ‘Muskhoghe,’ and ‘Creek.’ Several of the sources I found at PUL were unexpected finds, but the librarians were very helpful in showing me how to locate relevant materials in the catalog.”

As an extension of her work, Smith hopes to build an archive of Muscogee language materials for teaching and language revitalization. 

“Local community engagement is an important aspect of my methodology and ethics as a historian,” adding that she plans on sharing archival Muscogee language sources with her language instructor, the College of the Muscogee Nation, and any other community members who might be interested. 

“I’ll be moving to New Orleans this summer to serve as Assistant Professor of Native American History at Tulane University, and I am excited to support the goals of Native nations from the Gulf South who might be interested in collaborating.”

In/Exclusive Buttons at Princeton

Lloyd’s project originated from an experience she had while working at Princeton Reunions. As she served food to returning alumni as part of the Campus Dining team, she noticed many were wearing buttons emblazoned with the message. “Bring back the old Princeton.” 

“What’s wrong with our Princeton? What’s the ‘old’ Princeton?” she questioned. Lloyd found that the buttons were originally worn in protest towards coeducation. From there, she delved more into the topic in her Sophomore Research Seminar, “The Writing’s On the Wall.” 

“The focus of this course is all things Princeton, so inevitably, I, along with many of my peers in the course, ended up frequenting Mudd Library because it is home to the history of Princeton including theses, maps, and my focus, memorabilia,” Lloyd said.

Liz Colagiuri, deputy dean of the college, presented sophomore Alyssa Lloyd with the Princeton University Library Award. P

Liz Colagiuri presented sophomore Alyssa Lloyd with the Princeton University Library Award. Photo by Sameer A. Khan.

Lloyd based her research project for that course around her initial questions about the buttons she saw at Reunions. She pulled box after box of Princeton memorabilia and began photographing, describing, and categorizing her findings. Lloyd found that buttons with obscure meanings had a double-edged effect, creating in-groups that understand the meaning while also creating out-groups of people left in the dark. 

Though Lloyd relied heavily on Mudd, she noted that she did hit certain walls during the research project. “When you are digging through boxes of buttons and alumni artifacts, there is a part of you that feels like you are on ‘American Picker,’ combing through everything and anything but not quite sure what you are looking for,” Lloyd said. “I knew I needed to find something worthwhile, but there was a brief moment that I wondered if I would.”

With the support of her professor, Lecturer in the Princeton Writing Program Emma Ljung, as well as assistance from Library Collections Specialist April C. Armstrong *14, Lloyd finished her sociological examination of inclusive and exclusive labels, and set herself up for a potential future study considering similar phenomena at other institutions. 

“It was a fun project. Maybe there will be a part two. Instead of ‘Princeton in a Pin[ch’], look out for ‘Unbuttoning Belonging.’”

Published on May 23, 2024

Written by Brandon Johnson, Communications Strategist

Media Contact: Stephanie Oster, Publicity Manager