10 Things to Know About Nicole Casper
Get to know the archivist and alumna.
Director of Archives and Historical Collections Nicole Casper ’95 has witnessed a lot of change to the campus during her time at Stonehill College.
“I really like the fact that our architects made an effort to match the design of the new buildings to that of Donahue,” she said. “I think the May School and the Meehan School fit in well on the Quad.”
Just as Stonehill’s new buildings honor the College’s rich legacy, so does Casper through her work. Responsible for cataloguing and preserving countless records and artifacts that illustrate the history of the College, she ensures that future Skyhawks discover those who came before them.
Here are 10 things to know about the steward of Stonehill’s story.
1. She oversees collections owned by the College. The Tofias Industrial Archives (also known as the Ames Shovel Museum), the Stanley A. Bauman Photograph Collection and the Shoe Industry Collection are among those Casper manages. “They are all different, yet interconnected in interesting ways,” she said. “And they garner interest from people all over the world.”
2. She is nimble. Casper believes adaptability is a quality that all good archivists must possess. “My day is never the same,” she said. “If someone needs a record or has a question, finding an answer can take anywhere from five seconds to five hours. That’s the way research is.”
3. She majored in history as a Stonehill student. Casper originally planned to follow in her parents’ footsteps by becoming a teacher. She pivoted during her sophomore year of college when she realized that path was not for her. “My parents supported my decision, but I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Casper said. She gained clarity following conversations with Professor Emeritus of History James Kenneally, one of her mentors. His guidance led her to pursue a series of internships and job opportunities with the Rhode Island State Archives and Public Records Administration, where she fell in love with the idea of becoming an archivist.
4. Her life was changed by a Christmas card. After graduating from Stonehill, Casper continued working at the Rhode Island Archives while pursuing a master’s degree in library and information science with a concentration in archives management from Simmons College. She then moved to Georgia, where she worked as the archivist and records manager at Habitat for Humanity’s International Headquarters. She returned to Easton in May 2001. “I received a Christmas card from James Kenneally’s wife, Louise, who was the director of the archives at Stonehill for 40 years,” Casper said. “She said she was retiring and that I should contact her if I was interested in applying for her job. The rest is history.”
5. She pays it forward. In recognition of the impact that James and Louise Kenneally’s mentorship had on her, Casper strives to support her own interns and work study students, who assist her with tasks like scanning files, editing photos, and adding metadata to digital records. “Several of my students have gone on to work in museums and archives,” she said. “One of my first interns works at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Another is a curator in Arizona. It’s great to follow their careers, to see how they grow.”
6. She is putting together a special exhibit. A major project in which Casper hopes to involve students is the gallery exhibit she is currently putting together for Stonehill’s 75th anniversary celebration, taking place in 2023. “I really want to include students because it’s such a special time for the College,” she said. “Allowing them to contribute is important to me.”
7. She has written two books. In collaboration with the late James E. Benson of the Brockton Historical Society and Fire Museum, Casper co-authored two works focused on local tragedies: The Strand Theatre Fire: The 1941 Brockton Tragedy and the Fallen Thirteen, and The Brockton Tragedy at Moosehead Lake. “Writing these books has been rewarding,” Casper said. “I’ve been contacted by several of the victims’ family members. It’s always nice when someone emails to say, ‘That’s my grandfather you wrote about. Thanks for helping me learn more about him.’”
8. She is brainstorming her next book. Though nothing is officially in the works as of now, Casper has brainstormed tentative topics for a third tome. “I’ve had an idea floating in my head for a while,” she said. “It’s a book about the Ames family [the original owners of the estate that became Stonehill College in 1948].”
9. She enjoys the personal side of history. Learning about history is not just part of Casper’s job; it is also a big part of her leisure time. She and her husband Michael, a military history buff, often visit sites tied to the Civil War, a period of American history in which Casper has always taken an interest. “I like learning about the personal side of history,” she said. “When we go to Civil War sites, I’m interested in visiting places like the hospitals where soldiers were treated to learn the intimate details of their lives.”
10. She raced across the most magical place on Earth. When she is not knee deep in history, Casper enjoys running. Most recently, she completed the Dopey Challenge, a race that takes place at Walt Disney World during their Marathon Weekend event. Coincidentally, Casper turned 48 and a half years old three weeks before participating in the 48.6-mile challenge, which consists of a 5K, a 10K, a half-marathon, and a full marathon. Casper notes that much of the training she did to prepare for these events took place at Stonehill. “I love running around campus because it’s not only safe, it’s also beautiful,” she said.