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Engaging History Majors in Intensive Archival Research

This case study focuses on a collaboration between Digital Archivist Rachel Walton and History Professor Claire Strom, which began in the context of a 2018–2020 Associated Colleges of the South. (ACS) Grant called “Pathways to Diversity.” The grant was a multi-institution effort dedicated to uncovering and illuminating the history of integration at southern liberal arts colleges like Rollins. Founded long before the onset of the civil rights movement in the United States, the local experiences and personal stories of African American students, staff, and faculty at Rollins in the twentieth century were not fully examined or preserved in the College Archives. In addition to supporting archival investigations surrounding the critical but under-researched moments of integration, this grant also aimed to provide primary source literacy and student engagement opportunities with archival materials. Together, Walton and Strom incorporated the grant’s larger goals into two, scaffolded history courses offered between Fall 2018 and Spring 2020—Researching American History (a 200-level course taught in Fall 2018) and the major’s capstone (a 400-level course for history majors, which was taught and assessed twice during the course of the grant cycle—once in Spring 2019 and once in Spring 2020). The goals of both courses’ archival projects centered on teaching undergraduate history majors how to effectively incorporate archival work in their research assignments and emphasized a full spectrum of Primary Source Literacy Learning Objectives

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