by Charla Wilson and Dana Lamparello, archivists
October is National Archives Month, and what better way to celebrate it than with a word from your university archivists and some tips on how archives can benefit the Northwestern community!
Archival records, of course, are essential in supporting society’s increasing demand for accountability and transparency. They strengthen our collective memory and make sure our stories are told and remembered. And we archivists play a role in that.
A question we are commonly asked is: What does an archivist do? In short, we are responsible for collecting historically significant documents or records, managing and preserving them, and making them available for research. Our goal is to provide researchers with access to these records, as well as promote them for scholarly use so researchers can interpret them, repurpose them for media projects, have an appreciation for local history, and much more.
University Archives offers a number of services to the Northwestern and broader community such as hosting visiting classes, participating in fireside chats, responding to research inquiries, curating exhibits, and leading campus tours. We also are happy to work with faculty to incorporate archival records into their courses through the use of University Archives collections. Our collections cover a multitude of topics, including records from academic departments, student activity records, and faculty and alumni papers.
Listed below are just a few of the research topics, student papers, and visiting classes we have assisted with in recent months. While they are listed by individual subjects, our collections are great sources for interdisciplinary research.
- American Studies: American identity and Asian American studies at Northwestern
- Architectural Engineering and Design: Campus architecture and history
- Art History: Architectural history at NU; Gothic Structures; Interpretation of Space
- Business: Macroeconomics; Business cycle; Labor-management; Economics of Racism
- Dance: Introduction to Dance History; Katherine Flowers
- Education: Home Economics; History of Curriculum; Coeducation
- English: Biography: Writing Women’s Lives; Prohibition at Northwestern
- History: Second Wave of Feminism; Leopold and Loeb; Settlement in Chicago; The Rise of the Black Middle Class in Evanston
- Law: Study of criminology
- Medicine: Medicine and Activism; Rehabilitation
- Sociology: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy; Study family disorganization
- Theatre: Children’s Theatre; Winifred Ward; Theatre Department Scrapbooks, The History and Strategic Development of Blackface
Also, check out our research guides, blog, and finding aid portal to discover more resources University Archives offers:
- Northwestern History & Archives Research Guides
- University Archives Blog
- Archival & Manuscript Collections Portal
We have had great success working with faculty and students. Based on past feedback, students have enjoyed the unique experience of handling and closely reading historic documents, and faculty have felt the resulting student projects clearly demonstrate an insight gained from the nature of original research and analysis.
If you are interested in exposing your students to archival research or are curious about how you might integrate archival records into your curriculum, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-491-3136.