Successful use of archives requires a mixture of practical preparation, knowledge of what you know you want to see, and serendipity. Children’s literature archives are growing in number and range from those that are primarily collections of books, to those that focus on manuscripts and original artwork. There are family resemblances between all kinds of archives so, though a combination of theoretical reading, practical advice, and applied tasks, this workshop will help prepare researchers for different archival experiences.
Required advance reading
Kidd, Kenneth. ‘The Child, the Scholar, and the Children’s Literature Archive’. The Lion and the Unicorn 35.1 (January 2011), pp. 1-23.
Sanchez-Eppler, Karen. ‘In the Archives of Childhood’. The Children’s Table: Childhood Studies and the Humanities. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, pp 213-37.
Preparatory task for all students
Serendipity is at work in the creation of archives and special collections as well as in the research process. Reflect on an archive collection or special collection of your choice [this could be a digital archive such as ‘Playing Soviet’: http://commons.princeton.edu/soviet/ if you do not have access to an archive you can visit in real life], and consider in particular its accession details. What role did serendipity play in the creation, acquisition, and cataloguing of the collection? You could consider the following factors:
- Who was the creator of the collection, and how did it come to be created?
- Was it carefully curated or was it the result of accidental creation?
- How did the library or archive acquire this collection, and what state was it in when it arrived?
- How far can it be said to reflect the intention or use of the original creator?
- What other forces have affected how this collection appears to users today?
Come to the workshop prepared to give a short presentation on your chosen collection which gives an insight into the respective roles of design and serendipity in shaping archives and special collections.
Kidd, Kenneth, Pearson, Lucy and Sarah Pyke. ‘Serendipity and Children’s Literature Research’. International Research in Children’s Literature 9.2 (2016), 162-78.
Assignment for students taking credits
Based on your preparatory presentation, write 700-1,000 words explaining how far the connections Sanchez-Eppler makes between childhood and archives are useful to your understanding of the evolution of the archive. Assignments should be sent to Kim.Reynolds@ncl.ac.uk.