Teaching with Archives

Teaching with Archives


Friday, March 2, 2018 | 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. | MERGE (136 S. Dubuque St.)


Moderator: Teresa Mangum, Professor, Gender, Women’s, & Sexuality Studies and English; Public Policy Center; Director, Obermann Center for Advanced Studies 

Tiffany Adrain is the Collections Manager of the UI Paleontology Repository and a Museum Studies Instructor.

Course: MUSM:4080 Museum Internship

Assignment: Students investigate archives to research the history of the UI Paleontology Repository collections, often uncovering glimpses into the history of paleontology, women in science, 19th- and 20th-century colonialism, early citizen science and the contribution of amateurs to paleontology, changing natural environments, and scientific expeditions.

Amy Chen is the English and American Literature Librarian at the University of Iowa.

Assignment: I used to be the Special Collections Instruction Librarian, so Codex Conquest and Mark are two Open Educational Resource (OER) card games. Codex Conquest is designed to teach students to identify the most canonical books of Western Civilization (and to critique the canon) while Mark teaches students to identify common aspects of early modern visual culture.

Corey Creekmur is a professor in Cinematic Arts; Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies; and English. He is also affiliated with the Center for the Book.

Course: Popular Texts and Formats (among others)

Assignment: I have recently designed a number of assignments that encourage students to take full advantage of recent acquisitions by Special Collections of large collections of popular culture materials, including pulp magazines, mass market paperbacks, comic books, and amateur zines. I especially encourage students to explore and consider the significance of cheap, ephemeral publication formats when evaluating popular texts, most of which would not have been collected or preserved by research libraries in the past.

Eric Gidal is a professor in English.

Course: Enlightenment in an Age of Information

Assignment: Students explore the online Encyclopedia of Diderot and d’Alembert, reading both d’Alembert’s Preliminary Discourse—a theory of Enlightenment as a system of information retrieval—and selected articles in translation.  The class then constructs an interlinked wiki site that connects eighteenth-century literature to these articles and builds on the ethos of connectivity central to Enlightenment thought.

Matt Gilchrist is an associate professor of instruction in Rhetoric and Director of Iowa Digital Engagement and Learning (IDEAL). He researches writing in the digital age.

Assignment: Archives Alive is an assignment model offered by Iowa Digital Engagement and Learning. Students write blog posts, create videos that animate archival material, and deliver speeches. In addition to developing skills of multimodal composition, students learn how to put documents in context and to conduct rhetorical analysis.

Elizabeth Heineman is a professor of History and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies and a dedicated archive-rat whose research and teaching focus on Germany and Europe, gender and sexuality, and atrocity and memory.

Juliann Egizio is a History student who worked in the IA Jewish Historical Society in Des Moines.

Course: Holocaust in History and Memory

Assignment: Student groups created websites based on archival collections of refugees or survivors of Nazi Germany who found their way to Iowa. Learning objectives included (1) linking the global to the local, (2) reconstructing fragmented histories and thinking about the implications of gaps in the record, and (3) discovering the ways micro-histories can reinforce or revise the “big” history presented in textbooks.

Heidi Lung is the program coordinator for Museum Studies and a lecturer in Anthropology.

Courses: Introduction to Museum Studies, Museum Origins, and Museums and Social Justice

Assignments: Each semester, Introduction to Museum Studies students engage in critical analysis of how museums use collections to communicate ideas to a variety of audiences. In the online Museum Origins course, students use the UI Museum of Natural History as a case study illustrating the historical evolution of museums. Students select objects and specimens from the collection and use archival materials to develop digital exhibits that tell the stories of the people and events surrounding how the objects become musealized. Students taking the Museums and Social Justice course examine archives/collections through a lens of social justice and engage in a wide range of discussions and activities culminating in group presentations that identify specific ways museums can promote equity of access and address or challenge social ills directly through exhibits, programing, and other museum initiatives.

Kären Mason is Curator of Iowa Women’s Archives at UI Libraries. She has worked with professors in a variety of departments who bring classes to use archival collections, as well as high school students. She’ll talk about introducing the archives to students ranging from high school to undergrad and grad students.
Kathrine Moermond is the Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Old Capitol Museum. She has worked with museum studies students through various projects and internships that utilize archives on campus and throughout the state to plan and implement museum programs and exhibits.
Jennifer Burek Pierce is a professor in the School of Library and Information Science and is the author of What Adolescents Ought to Know. She is writing a co-authored book called “Readers, Writers, Citizens” and another manuscript with the working title, “Mapping a Twenty-First Century Republic of Letters.”

Course: History of Readers & Reading, Cultural Foundations of the LIS Professions

Assignment: This term, students are working with UI Special Collections to select letters of interest, record episodes of the library’s podcast, and create social media promotion for their episodes. This community engagement assignment allows students to pursue their own research interests while supporting organizational objectives. Further, students will consider how different kinds of reading involved in this assignment invite them to think about correspondence, its reliance on reading, and the way it may be re-contextualized by new media.

Trina Roberts is the director of the Pentacrest Museums and an adjunct assistant professor in Museum Studies. She uses museum collections extensively in her own teaching and research, and will also talk about how other UI instructors can use resources available at the Museum of Natural History and Old Capitol Museum.

Course: Natural History Research Collections (Museum Studies; largely non-science students)

Assignment: Students use museum specimens and databases in labs throughout the semester, learning about various aspects of scientific research in natural history collections. Their work culminates in a final project in which they propose, design, describe, and present a museum-based scientific study of their own.

Katrina Sanders is a professor in Educational Policy and Leadership Studies.

Course: Introduction to Historical Methodologies

Assignment: “It is what it is until it’s so much more!” This assignment explores how seemingly ordinary letters and diaries paint the backdrop for extraordinary historical events.

David Supp-Montgomerie is director of the Iowa Program for Public Life and a Visiting Assistant Professor in Communication studies.

Course: Art of Persuading Others (large lecture)

Assignment: With some amazingly supportive librarians and archivists, my 200-student class met as 11 discussion sections in the library gallery. With up to 75 students at one time, there was a plethora of items on display. Students could pick an item that interested them and complete a worksheet that analyzed the item as a primary source. This assisted our discussion of primary vs. secondary sources for their upcoming paper analyzing a historical speech. With a brief activity, students were able to learn how primary sources can be evidence about the historical and cultural context of a speech text.

Elizabeth Yale is a lecturer in History. Her research and teaching focus on the history of science, the history of the book, and women and gender in the early modern world.

Course: Science, Discovery, and Trade, 1200-1800

Assignment: Paper Museum. Over the course of the semester, students compiled “commonplace books” documenting their journey through the class, which included sessions in Special Collections, the John Martin Rare Book Room, and the UI Natural History Museum. In their final project, they curated a “Paper Museum,” selecting items from their commonplace books for fuller exploration and discovery. Through this assignment, students learned how to think about objects (museum specimens and books) as sources for historical study. They explored how new knowledge, medical treatments, and technologies developed in relation to early modern European empires and economies.