by Cinda Nofziger and Emily Swenson
This case study focuses on a collaboration between archivists, a faculty member, and students which aimed to provide students in an upper-level, research-intensive course with a deeper understanding of the interconnected nature of archival collections. The collaboration focused on teaching students to “articulate what might serve as primary sources for a specific research project within the framework of an academic discipline or area of study” (objective 1.B.) through an introduction to the Bentley Historical Society and its collections. The archivists and faculty member encouraged students to “critically evaluate the perspective of the creator(s) of a primary source, including tone, subjectivity, and biases, and consider how these relate to the original purpose(s) and audience(s) of the source” (objective 4.B.) and highlighted the need for students to “understand that research is an iterative process and that as primary sources are found and analyzed the research question(s) may change” (objective 1.D.). The ultimate goal for the course was to create a website through which students could share what they learned with a wider audience; the final execution of this project speaks to student accomplishment of stated objectives. Challenges identified in this case study include a need for smaller group work in the initial process of learning to read, understand, and evaluate a source; and a need for better systems to manage archival data for classwork.