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Graduate Fellows Join the Harvard Library This Summer

Students awarded Pforzheimer Fellowships; two received Arcadia Fellowships to take on library projects.


May 26, 2015—Last year, the Harvard Library launched a fellowship program designed to immerse humanities graduate students in librarianship. The success of the inaugural Pforzheimer Fellowship program continues with the announcement of four new Pforzheimer Fellows and two additional fellowships, funded by Arcadia.

Both the number of libraries offering potential projects and the number of applicants increased this year. Professors Leah Price and Jill Lepore reviewed the applications with the support of Megan Sniffin-Marinoff and Molly Macke from the Harvard University Archives. 

“The archival research skills I will develop could be useful because my philosophical work is historically oriented,” said Pforzheimer Fellow Olivia Bailey, who in her academic career works on questions at the intersections of ethics, philosophy of mind, and psychology. “On a less practical front, I was keen to explore the collection in more depth. I love antique books and ephemera, and my first tour of Houghton with John Overholt was a revelation. There are so many fascinating collections in the library that I knew nothing about.”

In addition to research skills that align with their personal goals, the fellowships are designed to give a unique perspective on library work. "I applied because the fellowship would challenge me to think less like a solitary researcher, and more like one who mobilizes knowledge for many," said Eldra Walker, a rising fifth-year PhD candidate from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. "When I considered the numerous available projects, my scholarly frame began to shift and questions emerged. As a fellow, I would have the opportunity to consider historical objects in new ways and for the benefit for a wide, yet untapped, audience."

The 2015 Harvard Library Pforzheimer Fellows and their projects are:

  • Olivia Bailey, PhD candidate in Philosophy Houghton Library’s current online awareness efforts (like its Tumblr and Twitter) reach new audiences in its primary sources by highlighting beautiful and historically significant items from the collections, from illuminated manuscripts to sci-fi pulp magazines. Once it’s attracted them, of course, the library needs to give new users an easy way to find out more about the kinds of research they can do at Houghton. Working collaboratively with curators and based on feedback from users, Olivia will enhance the descriptions of the most significant collections at Houghton on its website, immersing herself in the highlights of those collections and producing a series of short descriptive illustrated articles about them for the site.
  • Natasha Roule, PhD candidate in Historical Musicology Houghton Library’s John Milton and Ruth Neils Ward Collection includes primary and secondary material relating to the performing arts, covering the 16th century to the present, with emphasis in opera, operetta, ballet, and music for social dance and non-Western music. Natasha will gain cataloging experience by enhancing existing HOLLIS records and creating new records about the collection for the Répertoire international des sources musicales (RISM), an international non-profit database which describes music sources in more detail than library catalogs allow.
  • Eldra Walker, PhD candidate in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning Baker Library Historical Collections holds over 200 broadsides and pamphlets dating from the days immediately following the revolution of 1848, covering a wide range of topics from early announcements about the outbreak of violence to efforts by workers’ organizations to organize political clubs to socialist and communists tract. Eldra will explore options to increase access and use, evaluating ways and planning to present the collection digitally with a complement of tools such as timelines or visualizations that researchers might find useful.

The two students awarded Arcadia Fellowships are:

  • Alicia DeMaio, PhD candidate in History Based out of the University Archives, Alicia will read a variety of manuscripts and archives from the 17th and 18th centuries digitized as part of the Colonial North American Project, with the goal of developing links among the collections in order to enhance and promote prospective research use. She will write several brief essays that identify several themes from the materials and suggest links among the collections to draw attention to connections among the digitized manuscripts and archives, which will then become part of the text for the web site for the Colonial North American Project (currently under development).
  • Gernot Waldner, PhD candidate in Germanic Languages and Literatures Gernot will work with Library Technology Services and the Program Management Office on tools to annotate library digital content and on annotation services, such as the new highly visual interactive viewer for digitized items based on the Shared Canvas data model, the Mirador open-source display software, and the International Image Interoperability Framework. Gernot will contribute to the structural support for user and staff annotation, transcription, tagging, and linking of text and images from digitized material, such as digitized books, to other content, and for adding a social component to the hitherto fixed and unalterable library digital content.