Paperclips Project teacher to lecture at Troy University as part of Holocaust Year of Remembrance

Posted: Thursday, 17 January 2013

TROY - A project designed to stress the importance of tolerance and respect for different cultures at a Tennessee middle school will be the topic of a series of lectures at Troy University Jan. 22-24 as a part of the University’s “Year of Holocaust Remembrance” activities.

Sandra Roberts, the eighth-grade language arts at Whitwell (Tenn.) Middle School, will discuss “The Paperclip Project,” which began in 1998 as an after-school study program to examine the Holocaust, during lectures at the Troy, Dothan and Montgomery campuses.

The lectures are co-sponsored by Troy University, the Alabama Humanities Foundation, the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center, One Clip at a Time, the Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center, Temple Emanu-El in Dothan and Troy University’s College of Communication and Fine Arts.

The paperclip became the focus of the project when students discovered that Joseph Valler, a Norwegian Jew, was credited as having invented the paper clip and that Norwegians commonly wore them on their lapels as a silent protest against Nazi occupation during World War II. The initial goal was to collect six million paper clips, one for each of the victims of the Holocaust victims.

Students began bringing paperclips to school and then established a website to bolster their collection efforts. The students soon began to receive not only paperclips but also countless letters and documents relating to the Holocaust. To date, the students in Whitwell have collected more than 30 million paperclips and more than 30,000 letters from all 50 states, more than 50 foreign countries and from all seven continents.

The project was the topic of the award-winning documentary, “Paper Clips,” by Miramax Films in 2004.

Roberts will lecture to middle school students in the Claudia Crosby Theater on the Troy Campus beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 22. A lecture for Troy University students and the public will be presented at 1 p.m. in the Trojan Center Theatre, followed by a community reception at 5 p.m. and a gallery lecture, “Learning from the Holocaust,” at 5:30 p.m. at the Johnson Center for the Arts on East Walnut Street in downtown Troy. All of Tuesday’s events are free and open to the public.

On Jan. 23, Roberts will speak with students from Dothan City schools beginning at 9:30 a.m. A public lecture and reception will be held at 4 p.m. in the Sony Hall auditorium inside the Library/Technology Building on TROY’s Dothan Campus. Roberts also will deliver the public presentation “Learning from the Holocaust” at Temple Emanu-El in Dothan at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 23. The event is free and open to the public.

Roberts will deliver her presentation to students, faculty and the public in Montgomery on Jan. 24 beginning at 6 p.m. in the Rosa Parks Museum Auditorium. Earlier that day, she will also lecture to Montgomery area middle school students.

For more information about the lectures or the Year of Holocaust Remembrance, contact the Office of Sponsored Programs at 334-670-3102