For many, Special Collections is synonymous with a treasure house — something to safeguard, but not necessarily to use.  But where’s the fun with having super-cool things if no one can ever use them for research and inspiration? At the Sheridan Libraries, we are committed to generating interest in our rare holdings, be it through Halloween parties at the George Peabody Library or lectures offered by the Special Collections Research Center.

A recent example of our undergraduate outreach is Freshman Fellows, a one-year fellowship providing four, first-year students with research experience and mentoring. Generously funded by the Sheridan Society, the fellowship encourages students to engage meaningfully with primary resources and receive research guidance from Special Collections staff, all while exploring topics they selected themselves!

The competition was fierce. (Yet did we expect anything less from our freshmen? They are budding Bluejays after all!) Twenty-four students applied for the fellowship, an incredible feat considering the applicants were adjusting to college life while working on their fellowship essays. The deliberations were tough.  Not even summoning the ghost of Johns Hopkins in a vain quest for his sage guidance could make the task less fraught.  And yet we persisted, and four applicants were selected due to their passion and enthusiasm for their individual projects.

I am pleased to announce the first cohort of Freshman Fellows, and am thrilled that you, dear readers, will have an opportunity to read about their research in subsequent blog posts:

  • Kiana Boroumand: Mentored by Yours Truly, Kiana is exploring the corset-busting topic of dress reform.
  • Lucy Massey: Mentored by Paul Espinosa, Lucy is translating obscure Latin texts housed at the George Peabody Library.
  • Faith Terry: Mentored by Jim Stimpert, Faith is uncovering the early years of student housing on the Homewood Campus.
  • Caroline West: Mentored by Amy Kimball, Caroline is delving into our Shakespeare collection.

After reading their blog posts, I am sure that you will want to learn more about their discoveries.  Well, you are in luck! We will be hosting a Freshman Fellows panel discussion starting at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19 in the Macksey Room.  Definitely, mark your calendars!

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