Category: Adventures in the Archives

Not the Doghouse: Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Archives with Snoopy!

When the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company announced in 2016 that it was laying off Snoopy, a feature of its advertising, in favor of a “clean, modern aesthetic,” I felt like I was being sent to the doghouse myself. I’m not a Met Life policyholder, I don’t own a beagle, and I know Snoopy will still… Read more →

Gays in Space: How an Archive of Star Wars Fanzines Helped this Queer Woman Live Her Best Life

In 2016, I drove nine hours from Tennessee to Iowa during my spring break to research homoerotic Star Wars fanzines from the 1970s–1990s. “But why?” asked many of my peers. Well, I went through a bit of a crisis in the last months of my master’s program. Not knowing whether I would ever be in… Read more →

The Heifer and Its Lymph: The Animal Vaccine Establishment’s Register Book

Few people I know like working at the UK National Archives. They find it too impersonal, too frigid, too strict. But since I first worked there in July 2014, it has become my archival home. The place is dependable — you can always find silence in the reading rooms, good espresso in the ground-floor café,… Read more →

Adventures without Archives: Professors without Travel Funding

I am a professor teaching at a public teaching university in Grand Junction, Colorado. I love research and thinking about research. However, I am poor in both time and funding. Like others at similar institutions, I teach a 4/4 load with close to 150 students per semester and my institution does not allow us to… Read more →

Up in Flames: The Death of Brazil’s Museu Nacional

What do you do when your archive burns down? That’s a question that I, as well as thousands of researchers in Brazil and across the globe, faced on Sunday, September 2, when Brazil’s Museu Nacional (National Museum) in Rio de Janeiro went up in flames. The largest national history museum in Latin America, the Museu’s… Read more →

Pinkie, Your Hospital Pal! Or, Why I Bought a Weird Old Hand Puppet on eBay

I met Pinkie just as I was nearing the end of my M. Louise Carpenter Gloeckner, M.D. Summer Research Fellowship at the Drexel University College of Medicine’s Legacy Center. I had already spent several weeks combing through the archives of Hahnemann University and Woman’s Medical College, looking for details about the history of doctors’ wives,… Read more →

Menstruation in the 1990s: Feminist Resistance in Saskia’s Heavy Flow Zine

Among the many treasures in the archives of Glasgow Women’s Library, the six issues of the 1990s menstruation-themed zine Heavy Flow is a special gem. The series was created by artist and writer Saskia between 1993 and 1995 and provides unique insight into the discourse surrounding menstruation at the time. Saskia, who has proven difficult… Read more →

VD in the Archives

For something that played such a prevalent role in life at the front, sex and venereal disease (or VD) have been largely underrepresented thus far in the public remembrance of the centenary of the First World War. In 1916, one in five of all admissions of British and Allied troops to hospitals in France and… Read more →

Almost Fourteen: The Book That Stopped Me in My Research Tracks

One of the things I always warn people about before their first archival trip is just how boring historical research can be. We sit for days in silent archives, flipping through folders of papers, hoping to find little tidbits that we can build into a cohesive narrative about the past. (Thank goodness for the invention… Read more →

Pictures of an Institution: Birth Records at Old Blockley

On September 22, 1859, 30-year-old Margaret Merchant of Philadelphia was admitted to the obstetrical ward at the Blockley Almshouse. She was pregnant with her sixth child — a boy, though with the ultrasound almost exactly a century in the future, Mrs. Merchant could not have known that at the time. A mother of five, Mrs…. Read more →