Welcome to our GLCA BSS2016 Researchers!

Spring Landscape, John Twachtman, 1890

We are excited to welcome our research teams to the second year of the GLCA Boston Summer Seminar.  We’ll be gathering for orientation at the Massachusetts Historical Society on Monday, June 6.  Food and coffee will be available at 9 a.m.

We have three research teams coming from three GLCA colleges:  Albion, Denison, and Oberlin.  We also welcome our archivists from five participating institutions, who will join us from time to time for our activities and conversations.   Our two seminar speakers are truly inspiring – we’ll be recording their talks and posting them on our website, so stayed tuned!

A few thoughts before our work commences.  One of the delights of research is a feeling of entering another world.  Your imagination brims with characters, overhead conversations, incidents, places, and colorful details.  Time at your desk seems to fly by.  Yet it’s also true that much of our work is solitary.  Doing primary source research takes patience and time – a lot of time.  And the payoffs are often delayed until later.  Sometimes a sense of connection to others can seem remote.  I remember my first summer doing research at the Massachusetts Historical Society.  I’d received a summer fellowship to examine the nineteenth-century photographs of Clover Adams, who became the subject of my first book.  I remember not knowing what to wear each morning.  I knew what to wear to class and to teach, but what to wear to the archive?  (As it turns out, archives are fairly casual.  We do encourage wearing layers for cool reading rooms, however.  And Anna Clutterbuck-Cook requests that no one dry socks on top of the microfilm machine, as one patron did after a rainy morning.)  I also remember the deep pleasure of doing my solitary work side-by-side with others doing their work, then meeting up for lunch or coffee to talk about what we’d discovered.  Come to think of it, I suppose the vivid feeling of relief in not being alone in my work is part of what inspired the Boston Summer Seminar.

And so, at this year’s Seminar we’ll be doing our work together.  I know I speak for everyone here at the MHS and our other archivists: we can’t wait to get started!


~Natalie Dykstra, BSS Director

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