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Archival Scholar Research Awards (ASRA)

The University Library System (ULS) in partnership with the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) is pleased to offer the Archival Scholar Research Awards (ASRA) opportunity to a diverse community of undergraduate scholars and researchers from the humanities at the University of Pittsburgh.  Since the program’s inception in 2016, 30 ASRA students, who represent a variety of disciplines, interests, and research agendas, have conducted original research using archives, special collections, and primary sources. 

The ASRA program offers the ULS and OUR a positive opportunity to connect with faculty mentors and the ASRA students.  Students assist the ULS with some important collections work that supports both their individual research projects as well as enhancing discoverability of library resources.  For instance, former ASRA students generated detailed information about our holdings of the Black Panther publication, the Elizabeth Nesbitt Children’s collection, and underground newspapers and publications; this information was shared and made available through the ULS LibGuides.  A student assigned to the Frick Fine Arts Library (FFAL) researched how feminist artist books and periodicals address feminist issues and how that culminated in the artistic choices of the artist and authors.  Several students created Tumblr posts to share their research and discussed the major themes, correspondents, events, locations, and significant dates related to their work.  A couple of students have compiled annotated bibliographies of archival material to help identify major themes, correspondents, events, locations, and significant dates. 

The ULS and OUR look forward to supporting ASRA students in their research and discoveries for years to come!

The call for applications is promoted to students during the fall semester with applications due shortly before Thanksgiving. As an awardee, students receive a stipend of $1,000 in recognition of the quality of their project, participate in workshops and training, and present their research at the OUR Celebration of Research.

Interested students should submit applications to OUR in mid-November.  Together, OUR and ULS will review all applications to determine student eligibility and quality of the student proposals.  OUR sends successful candidates a letter offering the award, which begins during the spring term. The ULS sets up meetings with the ASRA students in the beginning of the spring semester to develop a Learning Agreement, which outlines the goals, training, culminating academic project, and library deliverables. 

Link to application on OUR website:  https://www.asundergrad.pitt.edu/research/awards-and-funding#archival-scholars-research-awards

Analyzing Uncle Tom's Cabin and Associated Works Through a Children's Literature Lens

2018

By: Allyn Reynolds

Faculty Mentor: Mary Grycko, English

Librarian / Archivist: Clare Withers, Bill Daw, and Kathy Haines

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Allyn’s research centered on the depictions of race in historical children’s texts such as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”.

Deliverables:

Constructing Culture: The African Heritage Room at the Cathedral of Learning

2018

By: Darien Pepple

Faculty Mentor: Erin Peters, History of Art and Architecture

Librarian / Archivist: Zach Brodt, Arif Jamal, and Kate Joranson

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Darien examined the ethics of separating African and Egyptian objects at educational institutions and how this impacts the visitor experience. She consulted the Nationality Rooms’ archives for the African Heritage Room to study the Room’s symbolic layout, contacts from the Room’s Committee, and information regarding which nations are represented.

Deliverables:

Muscular Christianity in 19th Century Periodicals for Boys

2018

By: Melissa Pallotti

Faculty Mentor: Amy Murray-Twyning

Librarian / Archivist: Clare Withers and Jeanann Haas

More
Melissa researched the youth periodicals from the mid to late 19th century Britain to study the constructions of masculinity being presented to boys during the time period.

Deliverables:

Analyzing, Describing, and Seeing the Physical Book: A Study in Children's Literature

2018

By: Sarah LaBouliere

Faculty Mentor: Matthew Lavin, English

Librarian / Archivist: Clare Withers, Bill Daw, and Jeanann Haas

More
Sarah utilized the Nesbitt Collection to investigate narrative retellings of previously known stories in children’s literature. She identified at least 5 versions of each story and compared them through descriptive bibliography to draw conclusions about why and for whom these books were created. She also studied the relationship between the book’s physical form and the circumstances of its publication.

Deliverables:

Transition and Ambiguity: Self-Identification Contextualizing Visual Art Production

2018

By: Erica Hughes

Faculty Mentor: Gretchen Bender, History of Art and Architecture

Librarian / Archivist: Kate Joranson and Kiana Jones

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Erica researched the links between global identities and how they contextualize works of art. She worked with the artist’ books to examine the interplay of self-proclamation of national identities and their appearance in the artists’ books artistic production.

Deliverables:

Pittsburgh and Communism in the 50's: The Firing of Dorothy Albert

2018

By: Tyler Hensley

Faculty Mentor: Gayle Rogers, English

Librarian / Archivist: David Grinnell and Jennifer Needham

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Tyler consulted the American Left Ephemera Collection to study the rise of United States Communist movements, including but not only the Communist Party of the United States. His research focused on the firing of Dorothy Albert.

Deliverables:

An In-Depth Analysis of a 15th-Century French Book of Hours

2018

By: Claudia Haines

Faculty Mentor: Elizabeth Archibald, History

Librarian / Archivist: Kiana Jones, Jim Cassaro, and Jeanann Haas

More
Claudia conducted an in-depth analysis of the 15th-century Book of Hours to gain a better understanding of the book’s artistic imagery, devotional features, and provenance by comparing it with manuscript facsimiles and authentic medieval manuscripts.

Deliverables:

Freedom House Ambulance Service: The Origins of the Modern Paramedic

2018

By: Gabriela Galli

Faculty Mentor: Carolyn Carson, Department of Urban Studies / Urban Studies Program

Librarian / Archivist: David Grinnell and Zach Brodt

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Gabriela researched the Freedom House Ambulance Service’s inception to modern EMS in Pittsburgh to discussed the impact that the ambulance service had on EMS development in city and how it was so different from other services.

Deliverables:

Forming a Eurocentric Children's Literary Canon: A Case Study of Clifton Fadiman's Reception to the Black Arts Movement in Children's Literature

2018

By: Katherine Eldridge

Faculty Mentor: Julian Gill-Peterson, English

Librarian / Archivist: Clare Withers and Jennifer Needham

More
Katherine worked with the Fadiman Collection, studying how Clifton Fadiman created his literary canon “The World Treasuring of Children’s Literature.” She focused on his annotations and notes about African Americans and other non-White people to understand how Fadiman’s work represents these communities.

Deliverables:

Trans: Gay or Het?

2018

By: Brooke Adkin

Faculty Mentor: Jessica FitzPatrick, English

Librarian / Archivist: Jennifer Needham and Robin Kear

More
Brooke explored how attitudes have changed towards gender identity and expression in the public discourse from the 1970’s to the present day. She consulted the gender and sexuality periodicals to examine public attitudes over time.

Deliverables:

Several workshops throughout the semester are offered to create a united cohort of students, help check on the students' progress, raise awareness of useful databases, services, and resources, provide an opportunity to clarify questions, expectations, or address concerns, and prepare them for the Celebration of Research event at the end of the semester.

From the ULS perspective, librarians and archivists will support students so that they will be able to:

  • Gain proficiency when searching various library databases.
  • Develop strategies in locating and evaluating primary sources in research.  
  • Articulate thought process, opinion, and interpretation of the sources that are being reviewed. 
  • Communicate research effectively to a wide variety of audiences in writing and public speaking. 
  • Create a record of scholarship by depositing research into D-Scholarship, the University of Pittsburgh’s Digital Repository. 

In addition, students receive training in how to discover and use primary sources and archival materials from professional librarians and archivists. The students participate in several workshops and a spring term-end presentations. The ULS also coordinates several meetings between the Digital Scholarship Services department and interested students. Liaison Librarians can provide training in creating LibGuides and in searching databases for secondary sources when necessary. 

In 2018, OUR and the University Library System hosted the first annual Archival Scholars in Action event. Archival Scholars in Action highlights the research work and progress of the Archival Scholars Research Award (ASRA) recipients through a series of lightning talks and displays of archival materials used in research. Students present and discuss their research along with the content from the archival / library collections that they are consulting for their projects. This event presents the ASRA students with an opportunity to provide an update about their research progress, share discoveries, and discuss how their research may have changed and evolved.

The Archival Scholars Research Award (ASRA) recipients are privileged to participate in the Celebration of Research sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR). This event highlights the research produced by students in the First Experiences in Research program and ASRA students. Students create professional posters and summarize their approaches to research and share their discoveries and creative activities produced throughout the semester. The Celebration of Research is the culminating event for students to showcase their research efforts and provides a wonderful opportunity for all those attending to make connections, raise awareness of student research, and revel in the scholarship and success found within the University community.