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Archives and Special Collections Research Services

Online Learning with Archives and Special Collections

We are available to help you design engaging and meaningful synchronous and asynchronous classroom activities and assignments that make use of digitized and born-digital collections in order to meet a wide variety of learning goals. We are here to workshop ideas and cheer you on as we navigate online teaching together. Please contact Leslie Fields to discuss the details of your class.

In addition to traditional research projects, Archives and Special Collections can support a wide variety of public engagement projects including curating a digital exhibit, creating a blog or website, transcribing and annotating historical documents, and more. We are committed to creating student learning experiences that are equitable and accessible.

Education Program Goals

Grounded in the learning goals of the Mount Holyoke College curriculum and informed by primary source literacy guidelines, the education program of Archives and Special Collections emphasizes active learning for archival literacy, information literacy, and visual literacy.

There are myriad ways to integrate special collections materials into a classroom experience, whether transcribing nineteenth century correspondence to use as mapping data, exploring scrapbooks for examples of photography and ephemera, actively listening to LGBTQ alums’ oral histories, or investigating the dissemination of a work of literature through the ages: we are excited to collaborate to support the intersection of distinctive materials and intentional pedagogy.

We work with faculty across all disciplines to meet a wide variety of learning goals and support teaching with our unique materials. Our emphasis on active learning places the student at the center of our instruction design, providing the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning to build transferable skills that directly promote students’ academic growth and development.

Examples of Class Offerings

Some of our offerings include:

Understanding Digital Collections, Images, and Facsimiles in Context
Introduce your students to Archives and Special Collections and primary source research online. Use digital collections and surrogates to help students understand the context of a digital source, engage with data, and make connections between digital materials and course themes.

Primary Source Literacy, Document Analysis, and Transcription
Use primary source sets for students to interpret and engage in document analysis, build narrative between sources, and contribute to scholarly communications through transcription, annotation, and other activities.

Additional Faculty Resources

Based on an award-winning project at Brooklyn Historical Society, Teach Archives shares articles and sample lesson plans for effectively integrating active learning and primary source material into your curriculum.

Kelli Hansen’s "Collaborating with Your Special Collections Librarian" on the Pedagogy & American Literary Studies blog (October 10, 2016). Tips and examples of assignments for incorporating library collections into courses and best practices for collaborating with librarians.

Tala Khanmalek’s "Teaching Students How to Use Archival Sources" on Ideas on Fire blog (February 19, 2019).
Reasons why teaching with archival sources is beneficial to students across the disciplines and interdisciplines as well as some pedagogical tips on how to do it well.

MHC Accessibility Barriers Form