Archives Alive

Archives Alive creates courses that enable students to develop innovative and significant projects based on original materials held in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library. These courses are open to first-year and upper-class students and range from the arts and humanities to the socials sciences. Scholar-teachers guide students’ explorations, providing first-hand exposure to advanced research practices and immersive learning that goes beyond traditional coursework. Students produce signature products that demonstrate their capabilities for in-depth investigation, team collaboration and communicating the significance of their work to others.

Current Archive Alive Courses

Spring 2022 

Digital Durham

Old photo of Durham

ISS 356S/VMS 358S/EDUC 356S/HISTORY 382S (Seminar/SGLE)
Curriculum Codes: STS, ALP, W, R
Wednesday 10:15-12:45 PM, Perkins Rubenstein Library 150
Instructors: Trudi Abel and Victoria Szabo

Durham, North Carolina makes an ideal case study for examining emancipation, industrialization, immigration, urbanization and segregation in the context of the New South.  Digital Durham introduces students to the history of our locale and the process by which history is researched and written.  We will use primary materials from the Rubenstein Library—maps, photographs, handwritten letters, newspapers, and census data—to explore the history of Durham as well as broader themes in American history.  Students will also work individually, and in groups, with digital storytelling and data analysis tools to create interactive timelines, maps, visualizations, multimedia presentations and other techniques to share their research findings with the campus and the broader Durham community.


History of the Book

book page

CLST 360/MEDREN 346/ISS 360/HISTORY 367
Curriculum Codes: R, ALP, CZ
MW 3:30-4:45PM, Allen 103 and Rubenstein Library

Instructor: Clare Woods

This course investigates the history of the “book” as physical object from its earliest forms (clay, bone or bamboo tablets, papyrus scrolls) through to texts in the digital age. Throughout the course, we will use materials from the Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library to explore forms of written media at first hand. Although we will consider the "book" in its many forms, as well as book technologies developed first in the East (paper, printing) the course will largely focus on the book in the West. We'll explore manuscript and early print culture from ancient Greece and Rome through medieval Europe to the present day, investigating how texts were copied and where, how and why scripts and decoration/illustration developed, and changes in book production from monastic centers to the printing presses of the Renaissance and later. In the final part of the course, we'll look at book forms and reading practices now, and discuss possibilities for the future of the book.