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Project Details

An investigation into America’s obsession with temporary memorials, THE STORY OF THE STUFF mixes documentary video and a personal essay as it tracks what happens to more than half a million letters, 65,000 teddy bears, and hundreds of thousands of other packages, donations, and condolence items sent to Newtown, Connecticut, in the wake of the Sandy Hook School shooting.

This transmedia digital humanities project critically examines what receiving communities do with expressions of sympathy following national tragedies through original qualitative research about so-called “grief archives.” The project encompasses an immersive web documentary for general audiences, a module for LIS students, and case studies geared towards information professionals and crisis managers.

Subjects or Themes

Material Culture, Public History, Archival Studies, Grief Studies, Museum Studies, Mass Shootings, Information Sciences, Gun Violence

Project Language(s)


Time Period

Geographic Location

Project Categories

Content Type

documentary video, images, artifacts, sound, interviews, text, timeline, educational module

Target Audience(s)


A Web Documentary by Ashley Maynor

Illustrations: Natsko Seki

Executive Producer: Paul Harrill

Cinematographers: Paul Harrill, Abbey Hoekzema, Sunrise Tippeconnie, Dan Caudill, Joan Stein Schimke, Alex Stergiou

Original Music: Jason Staczek

Animator: Kent McQuilkin

Additional Illustrations: Rebecca Mullen

Additional Music: Phil Symonds, Zero Bedroom Apartment

Sound Mixer: Pete Carty



Host Institution / Affiliation / Project Location

New York University

Software Employed

Labor and Support

This project was created over three years with institutional in-kind support, grant funding, and an IndieGoGo campaign.

Project Cost

Partnerships, funding sources, or grant-funding acknowledgement

Funded in part by the University of Tennessee Knoxville Libraries.