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Conducting Research

Classroom Resources

Availability of Resources and Services

Professors and teachers in higher education and in secondary schools are encouraged to use the historical collections of the University Archives to enrich the educational experience of their students.

Our collections are not only useful to students of Penn traditions and institutional history, but also contain rich resources many related historical topics, including the history of liberal arts education and professional education; minority presence at Penn; nineteenth-century intramural and intercollegiate athletics; Eadweard Muybridge’s photography and work on motion pictures; the ENIAC computer; mid-twentieth century political protest; and Penn’s relationship with West Philadelphia. As a result of Penn’s long and illustrious history and the accomplishments of Penn’s faculty and alumni, the University Archives has primary sources related to almost any historical subject.

Class Visits

Teachers and faculty are welcome to arrange a class visit to the University Archives. In preparation for the visit, instructors should confer with the Public Services Archivist or the Director to identify collections which may be of special interest to the subject matter of the course. The staff are available to explain to students how to conduct archival research.

Student Research

If a teacher or professor gives a class assignment involving research at the University Archives, it is important that the instructor contact the University Archives well in advance, providing documentation of the assignment and the course syllabus. A staff member familiar with the collections will then discuss with the instructor the procedures for using the University Archives as well as the sorts of research projects that are feasible and appropriate within the framework of the assignment and the resources of the University Archives.

It is important to remember that research in archival materials cannot be done quickly; teachers should contact the University Archives at the beginning of the semester or earlier in order to work out a reasonable time frame. For example, it is not unusual for researchers to find they may need to look for evidence in another archival repository as well. Research in primary is rewarding, but it takes time and can be fragmented and unpredictable.

Use of Archives Space

In extraordinary circumstances, Penn faculty teaching courses whose subject matter relates to the holdings of the University Archives may make special arrangements to have the class meet in the University Archives seminar room. Class size is limited to 15 students.