Category: Archival Kismet

Accidental Traces: Stowaway Objects in the Radio Haiti Archive

From the early 1970s until 2003, Radio Haïti-Inter, or simply Radio Haiti, was the country’s most prominent independent radio station. Under the leadership of its director, Jean Dominique and its news director Michèle Montas (who was also Dominique’s professional partner and wife), Radio Haiti fought for human rights, freedom of expression, and an end to… Read more →

“o what happiness it wood be for me to see you once more”: A Mother’s Letter, a Royal Navy Sodomy Hanging, and the Tragic in Queer History

Content warning: Sexual violence and rape; sexual abuse of minors; state violence against queer people. Late in 1800, Britain’s Royal Navy hanged two sailors for having sex together. Just days before the new year, readers of the Hampshire Chronicle learned that “Monday morning John Hubbard and George Hynes, two seamen belonging to the St. George,… Read more →

“Discharged Well”: or, How I Learned to Feel in the Archive

This story begins in the fall of 2007. I was on my first research trip to look through various records at the Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard. I was a baby researcher, fresh from defending my prospectus and high with the achievement of receiving a research fellowship. But I was also severely insecure. As… Read more →

Bloody Archives: An Archival Insight into the History of Sanitary Towels

Given the number of people menstruating at any one time in the United Kingdom, you would have thought it would be a key interest of past governments. And yet the UK National Archives collections show remarkably little about the history of menstruation and sanitary products. Maybe this should not be a surprise, given how male-dominated… Read more →

Manslaughter or Necessary Operation? Abortion and Murder in Early 20th-Century Missouri

In April 2021, I was part of an exciting experimental conference, hosted by Dr. Courtney Thompson through Mississippi State University: Archival Kismet. In “Archival Kismet: a Manifesto,” Dr. Thompson outlines the goals of and thinking behind the conference. For me, the conference allowed me to reach out to other scholars to discuss sources that were a… Read more →

Blood, Teeth, and Fire: A Dispatch from Cincinnati, 1844

This is a story about walking between worlds. It happens now (more or less; December 2020) and also then (October 1844). In the present, I was working on the Dr. Todd A. Herring Collection, re-sorting folders and looking for pieces to scan so I could transcribe them over winter break. I am an archives nerd;… Read more →

Whale, Actually

Across the cover of the worn brown file, now property of the British National Archives, someone had written “Rations and Supplies – Dehydrated” in bright red pencil. This bland title gave little indication of what lay inside: a lengthy discussion about how Britain might feed its troops in South Asia in 1944, and specifically how… Read more →

Finding Friendship and Frustration in the Archive of an Institution for the “Feebleminded”

The methodology proposed by “Archival Kismet” is to go where the archive leads you (while bearing in mind, of course, all the people, structures, and historically contingent happenings that have produced “the archive” in its current form). Sometimes you follow archival sources down a dead-end rabbit hole, or along a new and exciting path of… Read more →

Archival Kismet: A Manifesto

In a fit of spring-cleaning early last year, my mother sent me a series of boxes filled with various mementos from my childhood and other things she wanted to get out of her closets and into mine. Tucked inside one of the boxes was a photocopy of a family recipe. This recipe was for varenyky… Read more →