We Have Our 2015 Teams!

100_3584We are delighted to announce our faculty/student teams for the GLCA Boston Summer Seminar 2015.  (Please note:  A final list of student participants will be announced May 3.)

  • College of Wooster
    • Kabria Baumgartner, Assistant Professor of History, and student Jared Berg
    • Project title:  “Presence and Absence:  Women and Education in Nineteenth-Century America”
  • Hope College
    • Julia Randel, Associate Professor and Chairperson, Department of Music, and student Hannah Jacobsma
    • Project Title:  “19th Century Ballet and Its Legacy”
  • Kenyon College
    • Patrick Bottiger, Assistant Professor of History, and student Claire Berman
    • Project Title:  “Agri-Culture:  Tracing Cultural Convergence through Food”

Many thanks to our applicants!  We look forward to fascinating conversations in Boston in June!

Follow Us on Twitter!

You may not have noticed yet but we have a Twitter account: follow the Boston Summer Seminar at @GLCABOSTON.

And you can follow our partners, too! The Center for the History of Medicine is @HarvardHistMed, the Massachusetts Historical Society is @MHS1791 and the Schlesinger Library is @SchlesingerLib. The Northeastern University Archives doesn’t have its own Twitter yet, but the larger library does: @ClubSnell.

Are you on Twitter? Drop us your username in the comments or send us a message — we’d love to chat!

“If You Are Very Lucky”

Catharine May Edes, pressed flowers travel album, 1852.  Catharine May Edes Papers, Courtesy of the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College

Catharine May Edes, pressed flowers travel album, 1852.
Catharine May Edes Papers, Courtesy of the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College

In a recent (and fascinating!) interview on Common-place, Meredith Neuman, associate professor of early American literature at Clark University, says: “For me, it will always be important to flail about in the archive, to allow one’s self to be surprised and confused by it. As I tell my students, you can go to the archive with what you think your questions are, but, if you are very lucky, the archive will tell you what your questions really are.”

Flail about in the archive. That’s right – so often working in the archive can feel like flailing and sometimes the scarier word it rhymes with: failing. Why can’t I find what I’m looking for? What I thought was there is not there. That correspondence only reveals mundane things I can’t use – sick kids and the travel plans of Aunt So-and-so. Now what?

Continue reading

Boston Summer Seminar Secures Funding for Students!

Wonderful news: The Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) will now provide a $800.00 housing voucher and $1000.00 stipend for each 2015 student participant! This financial support is available to students who have already been accepted into the program as well as all student team members who are accepted following our second round of applications.

Faculty participants already receive full reimbursement for travel, lodging, and food expenses.

Many thanks to GLCA Director of Program Development Greg Wegner, the GLCA Expanding Collaboration Initiative, and the Mellon Foundation for their strong support of faculty/student collaborations! We hope that this financial support will contribute significantly to the ability of a diverse group of students to participate in this research opportunity.


Detail, Detail, Detail

Snow Storm

Image: Snow Storm. Oil on canvas by J.M.W. Turner, 1842. Tate (London). 

The recent film, Mr. Turner, directed by Mike Leigh, with Timothy Spall in the titular role of the great British Romantic painter, is a masterpiece of detail.  Viewers are visually immersed in the painter’s daily and intimate life; we have entrance to the nooks and crannies of his several homes; we see in close-up his painting tools – canvases, paint brushes, colorants for paint, rags, easels; and we follow the many cups of tea carried by Turner’s loyal housemaid, whose horrid skin condition worsens as the years pass.  Gloriously, we also see the landscapes and seascapes that so inspired Turner’s oeuvre: two Dutch maids walking along a canal with a rising sun behind a windmill; a whipping storm at sea; a steam train cutting through a rolling landscape, rumbling with the oncoming industrial revolution.  All this detail adds up to character.   Continue reading

Sources of Inspiration: My Friend Fannie

What I remember most from my archives class at Emerson College is a short video clip that our professor, Natalie Dykstra, showed at the very beginning. The clip was from a nature program showing a fox jumping high in the air and swan-diving into a plain covered with snow. The fox jumped and dived over and over and over again—until it came up with a small rodent between its teeth. She told us that we should keep this image in mind while searching through the archives, and one day we’d understand.

The video, while entertaining, seemed a little odd, and as I looked around the table with a mix of furrowed brows, smirks, and tilted heads—I was sure some of my classmates agreed with me.

To be completely truthful, I took the archives class on a whim. I needed an elective to fill a time slot in my class schedule and the class time fit.  So I thought, why not? Continue reading

Spaces Available! Seminar Invites 2nd Round Proposals

We are excited to announce that there is still space left for our inaugural program!  Even as we begin working with accepted participants to hone their research projects and this year’s speakers to develop their presentations, we are looking for additional faculty-student teams to join us. We invite interested faculty who were unable to make the January 30 deadline to submit proposals by March 16 2015 for consideration.

Based on feedback from first-round applicants and other interested faculty, the application guidelines have been revised for the second round. Full applications as described in the original CFP are still encouraged, if feasible. However, we have discovered several logistical barriers exist for recruiting student participants at the application stage. If enlisting student partners in advance of the March 16 deadline is not possible, the Seminar team will consider the following a sufficient proposal:

  • A cover page with a project title, contact information for the faculty applicant, and a brief abstract describing the research theme (no more than 300 words).
  • A research statement by the faculty applicant (no more than 1500 words).
  • A current CV and one-page bibliography of collections to be consulted from the faculty member.
  • In lieu of student research statements, a brief (no more than one page) statement from the faculty applicant describing how they hope to recruit student participants, and any structural or other barriers to student participation they are concerned about.

Email applications are required; attached documents should be in PDF format. Please submit your team’s application documents in a single email to:

Natalie Dykstra

Department of English, Hope College


Second-round applicants will be notified of their acceptance no later than March 30.  Subsequent to acceptance, if the faculty applicant needs to finish recruiting student team members, the Seminar team will do all it can to support these efforts. Students recruited for a team after March 30th will be expected to submit a research statement for final approval by the Seminar team by May 1.

Please note:  Faculty must have a minimum of one student team member in order to receive their Seminar funding.

We strongly encourage interested faculty to contact Seminar Director Natalie Dykstra as soon as possible to discuss their proposal ideas; our Seminar team is on hand to assist you in building a strong research agenda and in developing effective methods of student recruitment.


2015 Partner Institutions: The Center for the History of Medicine

The Boston Summer Seminar (BSS) blog has been profiling the four sites at which BSS participants are invited to conduct research during their residency in Boston. We hope these profiles will encourage you in your exploration of each institution’s holdings, and prompt helpful conversations with the Seminar Director and Seminar Archivists in preparing your proposal. In the final installment of this series, we take a look at the Center for the History of Medicine.

The Boston Summer Seminar is pleased to have as one of its inaugural partners the Center for the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library of Harvard Medical School.

The Countway Library is an alliance between the Boston Medical Library (founded in 1805) and the Harvard Medical Library (founded in 1782). From the Boston Medical Library came one of the largest collections of medical incunabula (books printed in the first fifty years after the production of the Gutenberg Bible) in the world, the medical libraries of Oliver Wendell Holmes and Friedrich Tiedemann, the Kennedy Collection of Early English Medical Books, and the Hyams Collection of Medical Judaica. From the Harvard Medical Library came such holdings as the library of the Warren family, the manuscripts of Benjamin Waterhouse, the Historical Collection in Radiology, and the extensive archives of Harvard Medical School. The Center for the History of Medicine assumed custodial responsibility for the Warren Anatomical Museum in 1999. It was given its present name, Center for the History of Medicine, in 2004 in recognition of the integrated nature of its activities, collections, and audiences.

The Center holds one of the world’s leading collections in the history of medicine, public health, the biosciences, and health care. Online guides to a small selection of the historical collections can be found here. (BSS groups may also want to note the hours and access page.) Center materials are also discoverable via HOLLIS+, Harvard’s combined library catalog, and OASIS, the university’s archival and manuscript material access system.

You can check out recent news about collections and events at the Center’s blog and see a selection of digitized materials here. You can also follow the Center on Twitter.

~ Hanna Clutterbuck-Cook

Planning Your Proposal?

Have you considered doing some preliminary research through our partners’ digital resources? We’ll be doing ‘quick hit’ blog posts over the next few weeks to point out digitized collections you might find handy!

The Medical Heritage Library is an online digital collaborative made up of leading medical libraries in the United States, Canada, and the UK (including the Center for the History of Medicine, one of our partners this summer). You can see a full list of partners on the project’s website here. The Medical Heritage Library is freely available — and searchable — via the Internet Archive and includes books, pamphlets, broadsides, serials, audio and video material covering a wide variety of topics in medical history including balneology, psychiatry, psychology, criminology, legal medicine, biology, pathology, and physiology. You can also search the collection using the full-text search tool.

If you have questions about the MHL, you can direct them to Seminar Archivist Hanna Clutterbuck-Cook (she is )also Project Co-ordinator for the Medical Heritage Library!)

Guest Speakers for 2015

The Boston Summer Seminar team is pleased to announce its guest speaker line-up for the inaugural June 2015 season. We are excited to be showcasing the work of five scholars from the Boston area who have made substantial use of a wide array of archival sources. We invite you to check out their work below.

Liz Covart is a historian, writer, and master of a variety of online media platforms. She focuses on the history of early America. In her podcast Ben Franklin’s World, Covart sits down on Tuesdays for conversations with historians to discuss their craft and the world of the Colonial, Revolutionary, and Early Republican eras. You can catch up with her online at her website or on Twitter.

Karilyn Crockett is Director of Economic Policy and Research for the City of Boston. She holds a PhD in American Studies from Yale. In 1995 she founded MYTOWN, a youth organization that trains teens to lead historic walking tours of Boston neighborhoods.

Megan Marshall is an Associate Professor in the Department of Writing, Literature, and Publishing in Emerson College’s Master of Fine Arts program. She won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for Margaret Fuller: A New American Life.

Laura Prieto is a Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Chair of the History Department at Simmons College. Professor Prieto teaches courses across a range of topics, including American cultural history, women and gender, and historical methodology. She recently contributed an essay to the anthology volume _subjecting history_.

John Stauffer is Professor of English and American Literature and African-American Studies and Chair of the History of American Civilization program at Harvard University. He is the author of numerous books and teaches courses on protest literature, southern literature, the Civil War, and Herman Melville, among other subjects. He is currently a MHS-NEH Long-term Fellow at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Click the links above for more information on each of our speakers!