Washington, DC, June 1, 2023- In a new collection of essays from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), former recipients of the CLIR Mellon Fellowships for Dissertation Research in Original Sources reflect on the diversity of their experience. From 2002 to 2019, more than 250 student-scholars received support from the program to conduct archival research around the world.
Former fellows reunited for a symposium in 2022 to offer perspectives on the future of scholarly work with original sources. Seven of the fellows–-Yuting Dong, R.A. Kashanipour, Joana Konova, Seth Stein LeJacq, Ania Nikulina, Diane Oliva, and Naomi Ruth Pitamber–then worked with symposium participants and CLIR staff to refine and contextualize contributions to the event’s program for a wider audience.
Presented in five chapters, the collection explores the diversity of approaches to archival research in the humanities and humanistic social sciences; the potential narratives that original sources can support; how archives can enhance undergraduate teaching; current challenges and threats facing researchers working with archives; and the uncertain prospects for future archival research.
“The extensive on-site experience included fortuitous and extremely fruitful conversations with archivists and fellow researchers from around the world,” the editors note, “which lead fellows to consider new areas, sometimes decisively changing the original project and sometimes repositioning it in a way that resulted in a product far more genuine and inclusive than could ever have been imagined back home.”
In many cases documented in the collection, fellows’ encounters within and around the archives they visited proved transformative for them both professionally and personally. Despite financial, political, and practical barriers that inhibit original source research, the editors conclude,“communities of scholars and the public are invested in transforming the future of archival knowledge and research.”
“‘Adventure’ –implying risk, uncertainty, serendipity, and resourceful rethinking in response to unexpected circumstances—is a term not usually found in guides for dissertation writing. This CLIR report is a testament to the amalgam of rigor, flexibility, curiosity, and awe that on-site archival research can inspire: an elegant, adventurous narrative of humanistic endeavor, which has always been, and here literally, an exploration of new ways of seeing and knowing,” says Charles Henry, president of CLIR.
The report is available as a PDF download free of charge at https://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/adventure-inquiry-discovery .
The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. To learn more, visit www.clir.org and follow CLIR on Facebook and Twitter.