Despite the plethora of primary sources that libraries have made available to their communities, the published literature thus far is largely limited to the pedagogical significance of special collections and archives. To leverage the wealth of primary sources and to explore the full potential of primary sources in the undergraduate classroom, it is imperative that the conversation include faculty members as well as librarians outside special collections and archives. The ten case studies included in Engaging Undergraduates in Primary Source Research represent the exciting work of faculty members and their librarian partners from various areas of library operations. They offer examples, strategies, and innovative ways to incorporate a wide range of primary materials into undergraduates’ diet of secondary source research, including both local archival and non-archival materials, as well as digital and physical materials and non-English language materials.
Co-authored by faculty and their librarian partners, these case studies focus on how students develop and practice skills related to finding and identifying primary information, analyzing and interrogating it, confronting interpretations, and constructing and presenting arguments using primary sources. The emphasis on transferrable skills, as well as the diversity of primary sources and teaching areas they represent, makes it easy for anyone interested to find examples from which they can draw guidance and inspiration to form partnerships and to (re)invigorate students’ learning experiences involving primary sources. Furthermore, the collaborative process and the methods to engage students in primary source research that are highlighted in these stories are not unique to primary sources. They can be easily applied in other collaborative teaching efforts involving different types of information, to create skilled student researchers, adept information producers, and informed citizens.
Lijuan Xu has been immersed in information literacy-related work since 1998. Her three-year stint as a user education librarian at SUNY Albany and fifteen-year tenure as the associate director of research and instruction at Lafayette College have helped her garner rich information literacy experiences.
In addition to partnering with individual faculty members to build information literacy into their courses, Lijuan has collaborated with the Center for the Integration of Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship (CITLS) and the College Writing Program (CWP) to organize lunchtime events such as the faculty information literacy presentation and the “What’s Your Favorite Writing Assignment” panel. Through the grant-funded HathiTrust-based “Digging Deeper Reaching Further” initiative, she has taught text mining workshops at different institutions, including Harvard and Columbia. At Lafayette, she has teamed up with faculty members to explore the application of computational tools such as Voyant in primary source-based teaching.
1: Teaching Power and Storytelling Through Zines Regina M. Duthely and Katherine L. Curtis
2: Using First-Person Accounts to Bring Colonialism Home Paul C. Campbell, Jennifer Fredette, and Miriam Intrator
3: Imagining the Sonic Past: Using Primary Sources to Understand Music Making in the Early Modern Period Abigail Flanigan, Bonnie Gordon, and Stephanie Gunst
4: Creating Lesson Plans on Local History Dunstan McNutt, Carolyn Runyon, and Susan Eckelmann Berghel
5: Developing an Open Primary Source Reader on Gender and Sexuality Mir Yarfitz, Kyle Denlinger, Kathy Shields, and Megan Mulder
6: The City as a Learning Lab: Using Historical Maps and Walking Seminars to Anchor Place-Based Research Anne E. Leonard and Jason A. Montgomery
7: Mapping Tombstone Iconography as Data Carrie Schwier, Theresa Quill, and Jon Kay
8: Materiality, Research, and Digital Interpretation: Annotating Daily Life in Medieval and Early Modern China Maglen Epstein, Sara Lynnore, Stephanie Montgomery, and Jillian Sparks
9: Tracing Environmental Legislative History in the United States Ana Ramirez Luhrs and Andrea Armstrong
10: Contextualizing Scientific Primary Research for Different Audiences Kristin Klucevsek and Melody Diehl Detar
11: Epilogue; Lijuan Xu
About the Editor
About the Contributors
Balancing attention to theoretical frameworks, creative pedagogy, and practical approaches to assessment of student learning, Xu and her authors demonstrate how primary sources from the documentary to the digital can enhance and extend innovation in undergraduate education in areas such as critical thinking, digital scholarship, makerspaces, and more.
Lijuan Xu has pulled together a diverse group of faculty and librarians, to write a much-needed text related to the strategic link between archives, information literacy, and transformative stories of student learning.
Engaging undergrads with primary sources requires collaborative work between faculty and libraries on a diverse array of topics and across a variety of disciplines. Through a series of engaging case studies, this book provides an important new resource for those across the university who are committed to enriching their teaching through primary sources.