The Manuscript as Question: Teaching Primary Sources in the Archives—The China Missions Project

Michelle McCoy

Abstract

The collaborative effort between two Special Collections librarians and a history professor at DePaul University led to a quarter-long undergraduate project in the archives using China Missions Correspondence. In a reversal of traditional methods that assumes archival use to answer a question, this project looks at the document as the source of the questions. A qualitative analysis of student responses from these class sessions between 2002 and 2008 reveals the impact that direct experience has on primary source education and how outreach and user instruction in the archives can transform research, education, and the place of special collections within the institution. As a case study, this paper examines planning, administration, identification, instruction, and assessment of the project from the librarians’ perspective.

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Copyright 2010© Michelle McCoy


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