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Full Program

TUESDAY, MAY 24: Virtual Kickoff

Note: Times for this virtual day ONLY are in Eastern

This day will be dedicated to virtual presentations, open discussion sessions (webcams optional!), and other ways of connecting online. All virtual sessions will be held in the same Zoom room at their designated times. We have enabled a waiting room to protect this session from Zoom bombers. When you open the room, enter your full name so we can confirm you are registered to attend the symposium. Not registered yet? You can still register here


8:00 - 8:50 am

Live stream, pre-recorded papers: group A
  • Serendipity in and beyond the Archive (Amy Dunagin)
  • Teaching Physical Archival Research in the Digital Age (Nicholas Johnson)
  • Information resources: Has the digital revolution made the world of global academic research bigger or smaller? RILM: A case study in the field of music (Maria Rose)
  • Exposed in the Shadow Archive (Belinda He)

Serendipity in and beyond the Archive (Amy Dunagin)

Most scholars can point to a paper they never intended to write–one that resulted from a serendipitous “find” in an archive during research for something else entirely.  This is one of the most fruitful and fun aspects of archival research: the unexpected avenues pursued only because we stumbled upon interesting material in an adjacent shelf mark or because a skilled archivist pointed us toward a dusty box we’d never have found on our own. Much of this serendipity is lost as we conduct more and more of our research online using digitized source databases.  In this paper, I will explore ways of achieving serendipity in virtual primary source research when in-person research is impossible, whether due to funding constraints or the Covid-19 pandemic. Read the full paper 

 Video recording | audio recordingpaper | presentation transcript 

Teaching Physical Archival Research in the Digital Age (Nicholas Johnson)

Over the past five years I have had the opportunity to advise dozens of short archival research projects using the collection of the Musiksammlung at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna, Austria, the primary archive where I completed my CLIR Mellon Fellowship. Despite the prevalence of freely available digital archival materials, when confronted with original sources such as manuscripts in a well-known composer’s hand, medieval sacred chant books, or annotations filling the margins of étude books, students have expressed excitement and engagement that goes far beyond anything that occurs in a traditional classroom, or while examining digital documents.

In this essay I offer some suggestions on working with college students on archival projects, as well as speculations on the benefits of encouraging active use of physical archives by modern students. Students who live vast portions of their lives online can benefit as much as, if not more than, earlier generations by studying physical archival documents. Encounters with original sources can increase comprehension, excitement, and creativity for students longing for educational experiences that create a feeling of authenticity.  

 Video recording | audio recording | paper

Information resources: Has the digital revolution made the world of global academic research bigger or smaller? RILM: A case study in the field of music (Maria Rose)

My 2003 CLIR report addressed the questions that the digital revolution raises at a time when use of the Internet was surging. My subsequent work as an editor of RILM (Répertoire Internationale de Littérature Musicale), a global online music bibliography that covers all fields of music, has been a journey through the far-reaching changes that globalization and digitalization have imposed on academic research in the last twenty years. RILM was conceived in 1966 as a global research tool modeled after the UNESCO idea, and its wide scope was ahead of its time. How has this model fared in the era of digital globalization?

Video recording | audio recordingpaper  

Exposed in the Shadow Archive (Belinda He)

How do vernacular images as (audio)visual archives move and live their own lives?

This question is at the heart of my in-progress book project Expose and Punish: Trial by Moving Images in China and Beyond. My paper suggests the overlooked importance of ephemeral media (newsreel, orphan film, amateur photos, vernacular images, etc), especially what’s called cinephmera, in archival work and in exposing revolutionary violence as image-based abuse. My paper historicizes the incriminating catalogue genre (a cluster of ephemeral artifacts/materials with which people were all familiar in socialist China but that did not have a coherent way of naming it and that has never been treated as a genre or theorized): the systematically listed and ordered collection of “bad subjects” as evidence displayed for the purpose of public shaming and punishment. The paper is an excerpt about my auto-ethnographic encounters with images in both archival and recycled forms during fieldwork as well as a methodological self-reflection on found footage as archive. The paper reveals the role of found footage as key to a testing ground for approaching the lost, the silenced, and the forgotten. Such exploration also enables new archival accesses and redefines the audiovisual archive itself.

Video recording | audio recordingpaper 

9:00 - 10:00 am

Welcome: Reflecting on the history of the program (hybrid live/pre-recorded session, not recorded) [Shared notes]

  • Welcome (Nicole Ferraiolo)
  • Conversation between Mark Dimunation and Abby Smith Rumsey (moderated by Stephanie Stillo)(pre-recorded)
  • Open discussion (moderated by Ryan Kashanipour and Stephanie Stillo)
    1. What was it like to re-read your fellowship report? What is like to reflect back on your fellowship now?
    2. In what ways have you (as a scholar or otherwise) changed since your fellowship?
    3. How has research changed since your fellowship?

10:00 - 10:50 am

Panel and open discussion: New Archival Approaches to the History and Memory of Atlantic World Slavery (Matthew Fox-Amato, Danielle Terrazas Williams, Scott Heerman) (live recorded session) [Shared notes]

With a focus on the history and memory of Atlantic world slavery, this virtual roundtable explores new approaches to the archive. Panelists will talk about the research that went into their books. Dr. Danielle Terrazas Williams will discuss *The Capital of Free Women: Race, Legitimacy, and Liberty in Colonial Mexico* (Yale, 2022). Dr. Scott Heerman will talk about *The Alchemy of Slavery: Human Bondage and Emancipation in the Illinois Country* (Penn, 2018). And Dr. Matthew Fox-Amato will discuss *Exposing Slavery: Photography, Human Bondage, and the Birth of Modern Visual Politics in America* (OUP, 2019).

Session Agenda | Slides (Fox-Amato) | Slides (Heerman) | Slides (Williams)

11:00 - 11:50 am

Open roundtable discussion: Researchers Outside the Academy (Led by Jennifer Gaugler) (live session, not recorded) [Shared notes]

A roundtable discussion about researchers who have left or are thinking about leaving academia. What is it like to quit academia, both emotionally and logistically? What other kinds of careers can be fulfilling for researchers? How do you start on a new path in industry, government, or other sectors? What academic skills can you take with you?

Discussion questions 

12:00 - 1:00 pm

Lunch Break

1:00 - 1:50 pm

Open Roundtable Discussion: Disturbing Archives and Afterthoughts: Working Through Histories of Violence (Tara Tran, Will Brown, Louis Lu, Megan McDonie) (live recorded session) [Shared notes]

Reports on the massacre of Native Americans. The production of invasive surveillance records, in China’s pervasive surveillance society. Aftermath of natural disaster in Guatemala. Pornographies of pain in narratives about rape in Cambodia. In this roundtable discussion, we reflect on experiences from working through histories of violence. While we do not identify as historians of violence, each of us have met trauma in the archives. In the process of curating and interpreting troubling content, we encounter intellectual, mental, and ethical dilemmas that call into question our objectives and methods as historians, as outsiders disturbing the archives, and leaving with disturbing afterthoughts. From this conversation, we talk about how we make meaning from histories of violence in our own time.

Discussion questions 

2:00 - 2:50 pm

Open roundtable discussion: Dirty Archives: The Methodological Challenges of Working With Problematic Sources (Led by Meekyung MacMurdie, Jesse Lockard) (live session, not recorded) [Shared notes]

Scholars in the humanities regularly turn to sources that are deeply structured by ideologies that range from politically challenging to morally repugnant, from the travelogs of colonizers to the files of secret police forces. Accounting for “skewed” data is a perennial challenge for scholars, but calls for sharper critical attention to continued canonization of–for example–racist and imperialist material raise new stakes for future original source research. We ask: should problematic archives serve as entry points into our scholarship? What power does that continue to cede to the ideologies that shaped them? When do problematic sources get in the way of asking important questions and when are they crucial for reparative work? What methodological approaches might mitigate the harm potentially caused by continuing to “enliven” such sources through new scholarship? This session invites participants to share their experiences of using problematic sources and to join in a cross-disciplinary investigation of the risks and potentials of such work.

Discussion questions 

3:00 - 3:50 pm

Open roundtable discussion: Original Research in an Adverse but Connected World (Led by Winnie Wong) (live session, not recorded) [Shared notes]

Since my time as a CLIR fellow, research conditions have changed almost entirely in my field. I can no longer imagine visiting a distant archival site, openly asking to access uncatalogued materials, engaging with local archivists and researchers, nor publish original research in the same way. Digital research and exchange has blossomed but also introduced new perils and blindspots. I invite my fellow CLIR fellows to discuss together new challenges they have experienced and new strategies for original research, in hopes of developing a mutual aid toolkit for the immediate future.

Discussion questions

4:00 - 4:50 pm

Open discussion: Healing harms through thoughtful research practice (Elliott Shore) [Shared notes]

5:00 - 6:00 pm

Live stream, pre-recorded papers: group B

  • Reading Archives Against the Grain (Susie Woo)
  • Ethnic Studies in California and a Living Disciplinary Archive (Jose Emmanuel)
  • Archiving Dance in and After a Pandemic (Laura Quinton)
  • Objects of Desire (Elizabeth Woodward)

Reading Archives Against the Grain (Susie Woo)
Research at the National Archives in College Park, MD, the United Nations Archives in New York, and the Social Welfare History Archives in Minneapolis, MN fundamentally altered the research questions at the heart of my project. I had initially planned to examine the history of Korean War adoptees, but upon reaching the archives I quickly learned that my project would also be about Korean women and birth mothers, and mixed-race Korean children.
In this presentation, I’d like to discuss how I came to reading US military documents and the records of social welfare professionals against the grain in an effort to find the perspectives of Korean children and women, those whose voices often went missing amidst various U.S. efforts to help them.

Video recording | audio recording | paper | slides | presentation transcript

Ethnic Studies in California and a Living Disciplinary Archive (Jose Emmanuel Raymundo)
Ethnic Studies, along with Math and English, are now the three required courses students must take to graduate from a California Community College. This legislation has created a transformational opportunity that will affect 1.2 million students in the world’s largest public education system. To do so requires materials and sources. In a discipline like Ethnic Studies with essential activist and academic foundations, from where do these sources come? How will sources, materials and content in Ethnic Studies adapt as the discipline moves from a racialized endeavor to a mandatory graduation requirement? What is the meaning of legacy for creating a living disciplinary archive?

Video recording | audio recording 

Archiving Dance in and After a Pandemic (Laura Quinton)
During my fellowship (2017-2018), I conducted research in London and New York City archives with significant dance collections – a rewarding experience that shaped every chapter of my dissertation. In this presentation, I will discuss how, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, archives that were critical for my research faced threats of institutional restructuring and other pressures. Yet as it placed new strains on dance archives, the pandemic also prompted contemporary dance artists to generate new digital content and participate in archival projects that may enrich the historical record moving forward.

Video recording | audio recordingpaper 

Objects of Desire (Elizabeth Woodward)
What originally began as a dissertation questioning the construction of medieval “courtly art” in modern art historical scholarship has now evolved into a project exploring medieval gift exchange and the role of material objects in thematizing and focusing erotic love in medieval art and literature. This much more fruitful direction (pun intended) was profoundly influenced by the in-person examination of my primary object of study, the thirteenth-century illuminated manuscript of the Old French poem “The Romance of the Pear.” In this manuscript’s text and images, the poet and his lady exchange a series of increasingly abstract gifts, beginning with the titular pear and followed by a ring, a kiss, a headscarf, the lovers’ hearts, and finally, the manuscript itself. My own experience of the manuscript’s unusually small, intimate size and the physical traces of past viewers’ obsessive touching of specific illustrations are key pieces of evidence that shaped my thinking in important ways, as my conference paper will explain. My paper will also briefly address the profound impact that the recent explosion of high-resolution digital facsimiles and 3D renderings—increasingly made available by institutions around the world— has had on my research and especially my teaching of medieval art.

Video recording | audio recording | paper | slides 

Thursday, May 26: 2019 Cohort Meeting

Note: all times are in Central

8:00 am – 3:30 pm: 2019-2021 cohort only
4:30 pm: full alumni group activities begin

St. Louis Union Station Hotel
Meeting rooms: Illinois Central and New York Central (2nd floor)
Reception: Gothic Corridor
The hotel’s floorplan can be found here.

8:00 - 9:00 am

Illinois Central

9:00 - 10:30 am

Session 1: Reflections on program experiences (Ryan Kashanipour)
New York Central

In this closed group session, we will reflect on your experiences in the Mellon fellows program. Please prepare to share personal and professional highs and the lows. What was your favorite memory from the program or your research? What did you love about this program? How did this experience change you?

10:30 - 10:45 am

Coffee break
Illinois Central

10:45 am - 12:15 pm

Session 2: Reflections on graduate study (Elliott Shore)
New York Central

Share your experience of graduate study as we contemplate what you found enlightening and useful and what you might change for future graduate students.

12:15 - 1:30 pm

Illinois Central

1:30 - 3:00 pm

Session 3: Alumni career panel (moderated by Fenella France and Elliott Shore)
New York Central

Guest speakers:

  • Amy Brady, Executive Director, Orion magazine
  • Meaghan Brown, Program Officer, National Endowment for the Humanities; Managing Editor, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America; Former CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Synatra Smith, CLIR/DLF Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation for African American Studies, Philadelphia Museum of Art and Temple University Libraries

3:00 - 3:30 pm

Wrap up

4:30 - 6:00 pm

Check in and opening reception
Gothic Corridor

6:00 pm

Dine arounds
You can sign up for dine arounds using the third sheet of this spreadsheet

FRIDAY, MAY 27: symposium day 1

Note: all times are in Central

St. Louis Union Station Hotel
Meeting rooms: Regency A, B, C. 
Reception and concert: Grand Hall East Side and Gothic Corridor.
The hotel’s floorplan can be found here.

8:00 - 9:00 am

Regency C

9:00 am - 12:00 pm

Site visits and tours
You can sign up for site visits by adding your name to this spreadsheet. (Note that sign-ups for the two locations are on separate sheets; navigate between them using the tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet.)

12:00 - 1:00 pm

Regency C

1:00 - 2:00 pm

Opening plenary: Two decades of original source research [shared notes]
Regency C

  • Welcome and opening thoughts (Charles Henry)
  • Panel discussion with former fellows Ryan Kashanipour, Sauda Nabukenya, and Pablo Palomino

2:00 - 2:30 pm

Regency C

2:30 - 3:45 pm

Panel 1: Archival erasures and listening through silences [shared notes]
Regency A

  • Bisexual Erasure of Emiliano Zapata (Robert Franco)
  • Unspeakable Crimes, Repressive Archives, and the History of Homosexuality in the Royal Navy (Seth LeJacq)
  • The Capital of Free Women (Danielle Terrazas Williams)
  • Iron and Entropy (Andrew Welton)

Panel 2: Archival pedagogies and practices [shared notes]
Regency B

  • Undergrads at the Archives (Juandrea Bates)
  • Listening to Poetry in the Radio Archive (Lisa Hollenbach)
  • Access changing research questions (Sauda Nabukenya)

Bisexual Erasure of Emiliano Zapata (Robert Franco)
In December 2019, roughly 200 protesters stormed Mexico’s Palace of Fine Arts to denounce Fabián Cháirez’s painting La Revolución (2014). The image, which depicted the revolutionary icon Emiliano Zapata (1879-1919) dressed only in high heels and a pink sombrero, ignited debates about obscenity in Mexican art. Cháirez’s painting reignited familiar class, racial, and geographic tensions in Mexico that found their expression in debates over the legacy of Zapata. Zapata’s long-contested sexuality has been a distinct feature of Mexico’s cultural history since his death in 1919. But in these polemics, Zapata is either a homophobic symbol of machismo or a transnational queer icon whose relationships to women are overlooked. The debate over Zapata’s sexuality thus parallels what Kenji Yoshino has termed the “epistemic contract of bisexual erasure” that requires heterosexual and homosexual investment in the stability of sexual categories. I take up bisexual erasure as a conceptual tool to understand the erotic tensions in Zapata’s legacy. Bisexuality’s slippery signification regarding varying romantic interests has often been characterized as multifarious and unrestrained. These characterizations, furthermore, are most often applied to racialized minorities who are seen as “premodern” and resistant to a “true” sexual identity. Bisexuality thus exceeds and subverts regimes of sexual desire, encompassing what Deborah Vargas terms “lo sucio”: the lewd, obscene, and undisciplined behaviors that oppose normative respectability and comportment. Embracing this radical, multifarious methodological potential, I use bisexual erasure as a recuperative project to historicize the desire to know – via rumor and speculation – Zapata’s unknowable sexual desires. I also highlight how Zapata’s erotic legacy offers a lesson in the plurality of sexual pleasures that resist the globalized mandates and colonial dictates of sexual identification and decency (which often fall into the traps of hypermasculinity and homonationalism).

Paper | slides 

Unspeakable Crimes, Repressive Archives, and the History of Homosexuality in the Royal Navy (Seth LeJacq)
Intensive archival research was essential to the emergence of queer history. Pioneering scholars researched against the grain in repressive archives to document the lives of queer people and the repression they faced. Research into the British Royal Navy’s repression of homosexuality was key to this development. In the 1970s, social historians discovered a remarkable archive of state repression during the 18th and 19th centuries. Their work showed the power of a pervasive ideology of unspeakability around homosexuality, one that had buried this history.

The decades since have seen this ideology reassert itself. Academic historians avoid this topic and resist fully mapping and exploring the records. Structural changes in the academy have discouraged further work. In this paper, I show that this is the single richest archive of the repression of homosexuality in the English-speaking world during this period. I explore how this history has repeatedly been discovered and forgotten. This dynamic shows the importance of continued support for archival research in queer history. I argue for the need for structural changes in academia and academic history. Drawing on examples of successful public history projects, I also propose ways to finally make this important archive broadly accessible to non-specialists.

Paper | slides

The Capital of Free Women (Danielle Terrazas Williams)
The Capital of Free Women illuminates the as yet known history of free African-descended women with wealth in the seventeenth century. With the unification of the Spanish and Portuguese Crowns in 1580, Spain eagerly exploited Portugal’s well-established networks in West and West Central Africa to enslave and forcibly transport hundreds of thousands of people to its Caribbean and American colonies. By the mid-seventeenth century, Mexico was home to more than 150,000 people of African descent, representing the second largest population of African-descended people in the western hemisphere (second only to Brazil). Often only one generation removed from slavery, free African-descended women owned businesses and land, served as influential matriarchs, managed intergenerational wealth, and even owned slaves of African descent. I posit that the same regional “openness” that fostered their ascent throughout the seventeenth century eventually led to their financial (and therefore archival) marginalization by the second half of the eighteenth century. Grounded by sources from the archives of Mexico, Spain, the United States, and Italy, this book takes interest in how Iberian institutions imagined marginalized people and how race and gender influenced the ways in which people navigated the circumscribing forces of imperial demands and religious expectations.

Paper | slides

Iron and Entropy (Andrew Welton)
Museum archives preserve collections against the passage of time. But some artifacts fight back. This talk explores the tension between conservation and entropy through my experience studying iron artifacts from Britain’s early middle ages.

Iron artifacts begin to corrode the moment they are buried, and this accelerates after excavation. Museum conservators struggle to stabilize corroded iron for long-term preservation. Consequently, iron artifacts relentlessly change after their collection. During my CLIR-sponsored research, examining more than 600 iron spearheads from early medieval cemeteries, I studied artifacts that disintegrated on my desk despite professional conservation.

Iron’s changefulness has pushed iron artifacts to the margins of medieval studies. Archaeological analyses traditionally rely on classification schemata which are difficult to apply to actively corroding metal. Most archaeologists have therefore ignored iron to focus on artifacts made of more durable materials like ceramic, stone, or gold.

Although iron changes more rapidly than other materials, it is not uniquely prone to entropy; all archival collections fight time. Iron challenges researchers to acknowledge archival collections’ complex temporalities, and the illusory objectivity of archival research. In my talk, I will discuss the intersubjectivity of studying objects that decay, and the broader questions such study raises.

Undergrads at the Archives (Juandrea Bates)
Archival research in original sources is the center of historical craft. However, most history never enter an archive at the undergraduate level. Digital databases, annotated source collections, and websites often fill in for close readings of indexes, shifting through unsorted folders and the thrill of following a trail of documentaries from one depository to the next. This paper explores the disconnect between archives and the undergraduate as well as what is lost when young scholars do not have the chance to explore archival collections on their own.

This paper is inspired by my own experiences as a researcher of original sources and my attempts to bring not only archival sources, but archival experiences into the classroom at the undergraduate level. I highlight the disparity in opportunity to visit archival holdings among well-endowed schools in urban areas and those in rural areas. My goal with this paper is to generate a conversation about how to better incorporate archival research into undergraduate learning.


Listening to Poetry in the Radio Archive (Lisa Hollenbach)
This paper reflects on archival methodologies and findings from my research into the broadcasting of poetry on noncommercial radio stations in the U.S. during the FM revolution of the 1950s-1970s, the subject of my current book project, Poetry FM: American Poetry and Radio Counterculture (under contract, University of Iowa Press). Over the course of my research, the initial stages of which were supported by a CLIR-Mellon fellowship, scholarly and public interest in histories of both radio and oral/performance poetry has blossomed, as new partnerships, digital collections, and studies have emerged alongside growing alarm about the decaying audio materials and under-resourced collections that preserve this rich sonic heritage. This paper surveys some of the exciting new trends in the field of radio studies, and shares insights from my own experiences listening to (and teaching with) original audio sources that testify to poets’ profound engagements with radio as a medium for the spoken word.

Paper | slides

Access changing research questions (Sauda Nabukenya)
National archives often contain records from government institutions and views of those in power. These archives were created by colonial officials who made choices of what counts as knowledge worthy of preservation. The records depict not what was but what reform-minded colonial authors thought ought to be. As a result, these archival sources obscure the voices of ordinary people. In 2017, I surreptitiously discovered local courts records in the Mengo court basement that were officially deemed unimportant and unworthy of further preservation. Yet these records are profoundly unique because they contain the voices of ordinary people. This research paper discusses the epistemological limits of official government archives and how uncovering local court records changed my research focus and questions. It also addresses both the challenges that arise working in African repositories and the opportunities for original inquiry that they offer.

3:45 - 4:00 pm

Regency C

4:00 - 5:15 pm

Panel 3: Research resilience [shared notes]
Regency A

  • Analog Archives: Non-Digital Research and the Importance of Institutional Personnel (Kara Moskowitz)
  • North Carolina HBCUs, Underfunding and the Living Archive (Jasmin Howard)
  • Becoming a professional historian in “interesting times” (Pablo Palomino)
  • Losing the Labyrinth (Amanda Scott)

Panel 4: Repression and resistance [shared notes]
Regency B

  • Ukrainian Librettos (Ania Nikulina)
  • The Politics of “Empty” Texts: Antiracist Propaganda during the Cold War (Jang Wook Huh)
  • Roman avvisi (Joana Konova)
  • The Impact of the Internet on My Historical Research (Michelle King)

Analog Archives: Non-Digital Research and the Importance of Institutional Personnel (Kara Moskowitz)
A July 2021 article in Kenya’s Daily Nation reads, “Any historian … who has been at the Kenya National Archives, knows Richard Ambani – the walking archive and, perhaps, the most knowledgeable soul about the bowels of this citadel of knowledge.” Ambani started at the archives in 1966 and, despite retiring in 1998, continued assisting researchers up until his death this summer. A cursory examination of the acknowledgements of Kenyan history writing reveals the extent of Ambani’s significance. Not only do many historians recognize him specifically, but he has been described as “of inestimable help” and a “patron saint of researchers.” The last description, though colorful, is accurate. I am among countless scholars over the last fifty years who benefited from Ambani’s institutional knowledge. While much emphasis has been placed on digitization, many archival holdings, particularly in the Global South, remain unchanged by new technologies. These institutions have often suffered from austerity measures as a result of neoliberal policies. With underinvestment, technological transformation is unlikely and the basic functioning of the archives comes under threat. This paper uses Kenya as a case study to investigate the operation of archives in these circumstances, with special attention to the importance of archival staff.

Paper | slides

North Carolina HBCUs, Underfunding and the Living Archive (Jasmin Howard)
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have been integral sites of education, culture, and social justice transformation throughout United States history. While there has been promising recent historical scholarship about HBCUs, much has been left unexamined. Although HBCU archives hold important institutional histories and sources, they are largely underutilized, underfunded, and understaffed. Formal institutional histories of North Carolina HBCUs were largely conducted by the faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni of the respected institutions. The few published institutional histories are rare and not easily accessible. Additionally, the archives of NC HBCUs differ greatly in organization, funding, staffing history, facility status, accessibility, and the type and quality of their archival holdings. Through internal and external funds, library and archive staff are working to improve their facilities and holdings. The Black Lives Matter Movement and other social justice initiatives has brought more public attention, funding, and opportunities for many HBCUs throughout the country but more and consistent funding is necessary to combat decades of underinvestment. Yet, the most vibrant HBCU artifacts are often in the personal homes and memories of community members. This paper briefly examines NC HBCU archives, campus histories and preservation efforts, and the utilization of the living archive.

Becoming a professional historian in “interesting times” (Pablo Palomino)
In this paper I will reflect, first, on how CLIR’s support was key to me as a foreign researcher to incorporate US academic standards on global research; second, on some changes in Latin Americanist historiography over the past 10 years that may impact the future use of original sources; and third, on how my current research points me to the need to support archives (big and small, in the US and abroad) to produce detailed descriptions of their archival collections (rather than necessarily digitizing collections themselves). I will consider the three points from the perspective of the current and (very likely) future ecology of archival research under climate-change and pandemic-related challenges to travel.


Losing the Labyrinth (Amanda Scott)
This paper considers the importance of slow time and dead ends in archival research. The CLIR-Mellon program helped me embrace a slowness to research I hadn’t yet had a chance to cultivate amidst a grad school existence of teaching commitments and tight budgets. A year devoted to getting to know the archives—and most importantly, the people in the archives, modern and historical—meant that I learned to embrace failure, boredom, and exhaustion as part of the research process. Importantly, I learned to channel these arguably negative emotions into productive research: when I couldn’t look at paleography a moment longer, I treated myself to a different chronological period outside the scope of my project. When I grew numb to the hundreds of sixteenth-century Marias I encountered, I searched the catalog for mentions of bullfighting, lost dogs, bandits, pilgrims, and American immigration. Each of these sidetracks was not wasted time, but enriched my project and helped tie my dissertation research to what would become my academic research arc. Drawing upon my research experiences, this paper considers what primary source-research may look like in a new pandemic world when trips become short and dangerous, and there is no longer time for mistakes.


Ukrainian Librettos (Ania Nikulina)
Ballet librettos are vital in attempting to understand early Soviet cultural policies, where classical ballet became central as both a tool of imperial propaganda and national resistance. In the context of Soviet Ukraine, libretto became a method to present and rationalize Soviet policies on Ukrainian nationality and to control ballet, its official and indirect messages at the initial stages of production. In my work, I analyze Ukrainian ballet librettos of the 1930s that defined a cultural connection between the old Imperial and new early Soviet ballet and extracted the cultural image of a Ukrainian nation and the significance of the Ukrainian female body. I offer a reading of librettos as archival and performative documents and demonstrate that they contain narratives that openly and metaphorically highlight Ukraine and its communities as targets of imperial aggression. I trace these narratives in major nation-themed librettos and show that together, they have come to shape both the ballet archive and repertoire. Having a double audience of the state and the public, these archives were of particular significance and, as I will show, functioned as a platform for both conformity and resistance.


The Politics of “Empty” Texts: Antiracist Propaganda during the Cold War (Jang Wook Huh)
This paper examines the meanings of producing “empty” texts during the Cold War era. African American and Korean intellectuals disseminated pamphlets, newspapers, and magazines to oppose the deployment of Black troops to the Korean War (1950-1953), asserting that their fight would support U.S. imperialism. These radical thinkers insightfully defined the presence of the U.S. Army in Korea as so-called “General MacArthur’s occupation.” Yet some of their rallying cries often relied on sensational slogans with overused tropes. By tracing Black and Korean engagements with communism, I explore the premises, promises, and problems of the archives of propaganda.


Roman avvisi (Joana Konova)
In 2013, I was preparing a dissertation that looked at how sculpture restoration and reuse in late 16th century Rome reflected the modes of sculptural production and display in ancient Rome. I had examined relevant literature on the reception of Antiquity to conjure up what the remains of ancient Rome meant to the early modern inhabitants of the city. My preliminary answers assumed a sort of precedence and authority of Antiquity. This changed completely following my immersion in daily correspondence from the period kept in the Vatican library and other Roman archives. From these sources immerged a reception of Antiquity entirely dominated by the needs and agendas of the moment, and reflecting any ever so slight shifts in power amongst the Roman elite. And since manuscripts are not searchable, I ended up reading much more, gradually assembling a fascinating mosaic of a city that was at once deeply introspective and connected to the rest of the peninsula, the Mediterranean, and the “new Indies;” a city guided by ceremony and pomp, and the need of potable water. I have shared since this wealth of information with my students to make tangible for them the life behind Renaissance art.

The Impact of the Internet on My Historical Research (Michelle King)
In 2002, when I was a second-year graduate student, I wrote a seminar paper about birth control in China and the media frenzy surrounding Margaret Sanger’s first and only lecture tour there in 1922. It was originally going to be the topic of my dissertation, but I was led in other directions, and eventually wrote a book (for which I received the CLIR fellowship in 2005) about female infanticide in late nineteenth-century China. After my book was published in 2014, I returned to working on my earlier Margaret Sanger paper, determined to finally publish it and let it see the light of day. What a difference fifteen years makes! Though my original research had been done the old-fashioned way, with books and microfilm, now I could conduct word specific searches in Chinese on the internet, answering questions I would never have been able to answer, let alone pose, in 2002. I was able to reframe an entirely different question and construct an entirely different ending to the paper, which was eventually published in the Journal of Women’s History in 2017. I wouldn’t recommend this lengthy time frame for most articles, but patience paid off in this instance!


5:45 - 7:30 pm

Grand Hall East Side

7:30 pm

Evening concert
Gothic Corridor

The ensemble Musicke’s Cordes, featuring former fellow and violinist Samuel Breene and lutenist Jeffery Noonan, specializes in seventeenth-century sonatas for violin and theorbo/baroque guitar. Many of the pieces they perform are rare works from manuscript sources. 


Note: all times are in Central

St. Louis Union Station Hotel
Meeting rooms: Regency A, B, C.
The hotel’s floorplan can be found here.

8:00 - 9:00 am

Regency C

9:00 - 10:15 am

Open roundtable discussion 1: Digitization and archival violence (Led by Adri Kacsor and Megan McDonie (organizer)) 
Regency A & B [shared notes]

Open roundtable discussion 2: Technology in the archive (Led by Meaghan Brown) Regency A & B [shared notes]

Open roundtable discussion 3: Archives and the climate crisis (Led by Nicole Kang Ferraiolo and Lizzi Albert)
Regency A & B [shared notes]

Open roundtable discussion 1: Digitization and archival violence (Led by Adri Kacsor and Megan McDonie (organizer))

This panel proposes to investigate how the recent upsurge in digitization has impacted the embedded biases, inequalities, violences, and gaps of the analog “archival order” and, consequently, of scholarship at large. Has digitization managed to undo the racialized, gendered, class-, and ethnic-based biases produced by traditional archival practices and access to documents, or has it reproduced the same structural inequalities? Or has digitization led to new types of imbalances in scholarship, e.g., in terms of sources that are being studied? How have teaching practices responded to the increasing digitization of archival documents, and how does it impact what students are being exposed to? Bringing together different disciplines within the humanities and social sciences, the panel seeks to critically examine to what extent the participants’ respective fields of specialization have realized the dream of democratization promised by digital technologies.

Discussion questions 

Open roundtable discussion 2: Technology in the archive (Led by Meaghan Brown) Regency A & B
I’d like to propose a fishbowl discussion of the ways innovations in technology and the changing attitudes of institutions towards technology in the archive has shaped the experiences of researchers in the reading room. From shifting policies towards digital cameras and phones, to the availability or permissibility of hand-held black lights, light sheets, or other viewing devices, archives and libraries are rethinking their relationship to technology. I’d love to hear from others about their experiences with technology in the library and how their research has changed because of it.

Discussion questions

Open roundtable discussion 3: Archives and the climate crisis (Led by Nicole Kang Ferraiolo and Lizzi Albert)
This session is an open discussion on the impact of the climate crisis on archives, memory, and how we work with records of the past. We will swap notes on what climate threats look like in the different archives we’ve worked in and the different ways people have responded to them. We’ll also consider the roles and responsibilities of researchers, and what we can do (and perhaps what we should not do) to help safeguard collections and avert the worst climate outcomes.

Discussion questions

10:15 - 10:45 am

Foyer A

10:45 am - 11:30 pm

New research technologies (Fenella France) [shared notes]
Regency C

11:30 - 12:15 pm

Reflections [shared notes]
Regency C

  • Reflections on the symposium, what lies ahead for CLIR, and what’s next for archival research (Charles Henry)
  • Participant reflections

12:15 - 12:30 pm


12:30 - 1:30 pm

Regency C

1:30 - 3:00 pm

Working group: Making archival research safe and inclusive for the future (facilitated by Fenella France and Elliott Shore) [shared notes]
Regency A

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