PUL and HBCUs join forces to launch inaugural archives student program

Posted: Wednesday, 13 June 2018 - 2:13pm

How do archives, historical narratives, and social justice work hand-in-hand? As part of the Library’s inaugural Archives Research and Collaborative History (ARCH) Program, 12 undergraduate students and two graduate students from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across the nation will explore this connection at Princeton University Library from July 9 to July 13, 2018.

A partnership between Princeton University Library and five participating HBCUs, the ARCH program will introduce students to the archival field, the importance of diversity in archival collections, how to use primary-source documents, and potential career opportunities. During their week on the Princeton campus, students will be engaged to think critically about how archives form historical narratives, particularly the connections between the archives and social justice.

“The program is an outgrowth of the Princeton and Slavery Project,” said Dan Linke, University Archivist, PUL’s Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. “Research during that project brought a focus on the University’s archives and how the narrative history of slavery in Princeton has been shaped by which materials archivists choose to preserve.”

He is grateful to Michele Minter, Princeton University’s Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity, who was an early supporter of the Princeton and Slavery Project. Minter connected Linke with Caryl McFarlane, who spearheaded a pilot program for art preservation in 2017 at Yale University which served as a model for Princeton’s ARCH program.

students working with University Archives

Students working with archival material from PUL's University Archives

Each of the participating HBCUs--Lincoln University, Howard University, Texas Southern University, Tougaloo College, and Tuskegee University--is slated to send a staff professional who is responsible for their archives and who will serve as a mentor. Not only will the professional support their institution’s student during the program, they will also maintain that connection after they return to their respective institutions, allowing the student to build on their interest in preserving our cultural heritage.

The students will receive instruction from over a dozen PUL professionals and learn how to conduct research with paper and digitized historical materials; navigate archival repositories and their holdings, including understanding archival description and preservation for both paper and digital records; promote archival materials through outreach and exhibitions; work with finding aids and other aspects of archival public services functions; and learn basic archival concepts and survey and description practice for both paper and electronic records.

“We are very much looking forward to having these dedicated students and academic colleagues join us this summer. Archives play a crucial role in our understanding of our history,” said Anne E. Jarvis, Robert H. Taylor 1930 University Librarian. “We need to cultivate ways to support diversity within Archives and also within the profession. Otherwise, we risk preserving only a fraction of history. This initiative is just the beginning of what building collegial partnerships can do to jointly support inclusivity in collections and archives.”

Included in the program are also a series of lectures and group discussions. Planned visits and tours include the Smithsonian's National Museum on African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., the reading rooms in the PUL Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, the PUL Preservation Lab, the PUL Digital Imaging Studio, and the Princeton University Art Museum, as well as a tour of the Library’s digital forensics equipment.

The program covers all related expenses--meals, lodging, round-trip travel to the University and Washington, D.C.— as well as a stipend for attending students.

The program is generously funded by Princeton University Library, the Department of African American Studies, the Princeton History Fund, the Humanities Council, the Center for Collaborative History, and the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities.

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Written by Barbara Valenza and Stephanie Ramírez, Library Communications

Media contact: Barbara Valenza, Library Communications Manager