Syracuse University’s Remembrance Scholarship program began in 1990 and fittingly, Remembrance Week, now generally celebrated in October, was the brainchild of the Remembrance Scholars themselves several years later. By the early 1990s, there were few students left on campus with direct ties to the 35 students lost in the bombing of Pan Am 103. Concerned with the ephemeral nature of institutional memory and moved by then Chancellor Melvin Eggers’s promise to families that, “your sons and daughters will be remembered at Syracuse University, so long as any of us shall live, so long as the university shall stand,” Remembrance Scholars organized a week of activities designed to fulfill this promise.
Though the activities of each Remembrance Week vary, the Rose Laying Ceremony is the week’s emotional high point. Each scholar shares a small anecdote, poem, or fact about the student they’ve chosen to represent before an audience of families and friends of those lost on December 21, 1988. It’s a brief and affecting ceremony that links current students with those who lived a generation ago, and scholars often recall forming a kind of friendship with the students they represented.
Remembrance Scholars have a plethora of resources available, including current and past scholars. Remembrance Week is a well-established event with a robust organizational structure and experienced facilitators who know the extent of Syracuse University’s vast collection of materials. The following list of resources and materials is intended as a secondary guide to materials for Remembrance Scholars and others interested in researching the lives of the 35 students lost on Pan Am 103—though I must note that many of these resources and materials will benefit anyone seeking information on many of the 270 passengers aboard Pan Am Flight 103.
The Pan Am Flight 103/Lockerbie Air Disaster Archives at Syracuse University
This is where scholars will conduct most of their research. Most of the students’ families and friends have donated collections of materials which can be found in the Victims and Family Collection of the archives. Virtually all of the collections now have an electronic finding aid of some sort; several have extensive materials available online.
However, no amount of online research or access to electronic resources can replace the sense of connection gained from viewing the photographs, writings, and personal items found in the archives. Kenneth John Bissett’s collection contains many of his cartoons, while Shannon Davis’s includes a homemade version of Life, a board game popular in the 1970s. Alexia Tsairis’s collection features dozens of her photographs, Alexander Lowenstein’s includes a sweater that survived the bombing, Christopher Jones’s materials include a Red Sox ball cap, and Karen Hunt’s includes a video made by her friends a month after her death. The letters, eulogies, and recollections shared by families and friends after the tragedy also flesh out each student’s humanity in powerful ways.
While the Archives’s collection is vast, it isn’t all-encompassing, and there are several students who have few or no materials in the Victim and Family Collection. Fortunately, there are materials located in other collections, such as the Remembrance Quilt Collection. The Archives also contains a collection of material gathered for a memorial book titled On Eagle’s Wings. The book, initially published in 1990 and updated in 2000, contains short biographies for most of the passengers, and the collection contains folders with a variety of materials used for each profile.
Finally, on the 15th anniversary of the bombing, Syracuse University published a special edition of The Student Voice. “Casting Light on Shadows of Tragedy” contains detailed biographies of all of the students aboard Pan Am 103. It’s particularly valuable for scholars who have limited access to materials in the archives, and the publication is available as a PDF file through the link above.
Syracuse journalists Matthew Cox and Tom Foster published Their Darkest Day: The Tragedy of Pan Am 103 and Its Legacy of Hope in 1992. Of all of the books written about the tragedy, this contains some of the most detailed information on a number of the students. The book was itself based on an earlier newspaper folio published just 4 months after the tragedy. The book is available in the archives as is the newspaper folio, which is also here in PDF format (this folio is more focused on the victims and their families).
Susan and Daniel Cohen’s book, Pan Am 103: The Bombing, the Betrayals, and a Bereaved Family’s Search for Justice, contains a number of reminiscences of Theodora Cohen. Miriam’s World—and Mine, an updated version of an older work by Rosemary Mild, contains Miriam’s personal statement for the DIPA program, excerpts from her journal, and several of her short stories.
There were once dozens of online memorials to individual victims, however most of these vanished with the closing of Geocities a few years ago. There are a number of articles about individuals and families readily accessible through Google News.
This site’s Sources page has a more comprehensive, if general list of other sources that might be of interest.