Connect | Schlesinger Library || Radcliffe Institute

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[MUSIC PLAYING] – I came to Schlesinger
first for my junior paper, and the junior paper I
wrote was about the history of rape trauma research in
the 1970s through the 1990s. And so I came Schlesinger,
and that’s where I started. And I ended up loving the
materials I found here and loving that research so much
that I’m now writing my thesis on that subject matter. – So first of all, I
think Schlesinger Library is a fantastic place
to do research. The collections are
really well organized. A lot of it is digitized. The whole staff here
is incredibly helpful. – So finding the
sort of hidden things that you wouldn’t
be able to get just by scrolling through an
online database, for example, was something really
exciting for me about the physical
research process. – I think by coming
here physically you get the opportunity to
find other archives that are somewhat maybe tangentially
related or directly related to the person or
topic you’re dealing with. -The original paper– and
you can smell and feel how old it is. Someone held this in 1912
when it was first printed. – You can see really on scale. How small is it? How big is it? What does their
handwriting look like? You can see the
condition of the paper. Was this letter
folded and refolded, or was it just kept really flat? Did someone treasure
it in a way, or was it something
that was used? – You can read a lot
of secondary sources and hear about the history of
what was happening at the time. But it’s another thing listening
to the voices of the people who were on the ground and seeing
what they were going through at the time. -I wanted students to encounter
this initially, to just make sense of what’s
there, to sit with it, to reflect, to not have any
expectations set on what they would discover– and allow
them to have time to do that and then figure out, through
that first encounter, what they wanted to come back to. -The research done
here at Schlesinger completely changed
exactly what I want to do with history of science. So I do plan to go to graduate
school for history of science. Schlesinger helped me I
guess find the specifics that I was excited about,
that made me want to do that. -I’m in social work
school now, and I still have a huge passion
for archival research that totally started here. So I think actually one of
the biggest takeaways for me from the Schlesinger is
an understanding of how to do archival research,
how to know what to ask for, how to know how to find things–
all of the really basic skills that I felt like I was
able to gain, develop, ask a lot of questions
about, thanks to the support from librarians here. – I think a lot of
times in college, people talk about papers like it’s
just kind of a glorified book report. I would sum up about
10 ideas that I read in various journals. And I’d try to put
my own spin on it, but it wasn’t like I was
doing my own data collection. I wasn’t reading actual
archives or looking at pictures and making my own thoughts. So doing my own research,
connecting the dots by myself, was something that I
haven’t done before. And it was just really
interesting to be able to do that on
my own and to feel like I produced my own work with
the things that are available here. – If we tried to have a
conversation about what happened yesterday, many
of us would not agree. So the mistake that students
often bring to the classroom is they flatten out the
complexity of the past. They miss the texture. They miss the contestation. And therefore they
miss the ability to interpret multiple phenomena. – Students in history
classes have a reflex where they describe
what has happened in the past in a sort of
impersonal third person. “It says what
happened in 1968.” “It says that there was violence
at the Democratic convention.” Well, who says? And how do they know? What do we know, and
how do we know it? These are crucial questions
in any range of disciplines, and we have the
materials to support students’ original answers
to those questions. – What I’ve learned
has completely changed my approach to the way
I do a project or I do an essay. I always first look
for some facts, and then I always
want to make sure that I understand how people
were feeling at this time period. You learn a lot from
different secondary sources. You hear a lot from
different historians. They all have
differing opinions. But in order to have
a closer connection to these characters
in history, it’s best to see history through their
eyes– and these images, diaries, correspondences
helped me do that. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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