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Program helps scholars gain access to Libraries’ vast archives

By August 28, 2015September 16th, 2023No Comments
A researcher in the Andersen Library reading room

A researcher in the Andersen Library reading room.

The caverns beneath Elmer L. Andersen Library on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota are known for being, well, cavernous. In fact, the facility is nearly 200,000 cubic feet in size.

But where the Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections (ASC) really shines is making these primary sources – such as the archives from the Polanie Club, the Minnesota Orchestra, Control Data Corporation, and the Immigrant Stories videos – widely available to faculty, researchers, students, historians, and the public. One way it does this is through the Elmer L. Andersen Scholars program, which makes it possible for scholars around the globe to visit and access materials that can only be found right here.

The program was created in 2009 in honor of Elmer L. Andersen’s 100th birthday. Usually about six fellowships are awarded each year to visiting scholars. Funds cover travel, per diem, housing, and copying costs, said Kris Kiesling, Director of Archives and Special Collections.

Researchers come from around the world

“This program touches all of my buttons.”
–Mary Lou Fellows
“We’ve had researchers from England, from Russia, Canada, and from universities across the country and also some independent researchers,” Kiesling said.

“Building a comprehensive American history requires excellent historical preservation, such as that provided by the University of Minnesota’s library system,” said Lisa Andersen, an Andersen Scholar and Associate Professor of Liberal Arts and History at the The Juilliard School. Her research is focused on late-19th and 20th-century sex education texts, organizational records, and popular media to trace the genealogy of sex education in schools. She used the Social Welfare History Archives extensively.

“This program touches all of my buttons,” said Mary Lou Fellows, Professor Emeritus, U of M Law School, who helps judge the applications and is a donor to the program. “It’s really inspiring to see all of the ways that the collections can be used to support research.”

—Mark Engebretson

Mark Engebretson

Author Mark Engebretson

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