Fall 2014

Archival Explorations:  Becoming a Part of College History

Listed in: First Year Seminar, as FYSE-102


Lisa M. Ballou (Section 01)
Mike Kelly (Section 01)
Kiara M. Vigil (Section 01)


Want to learn more about how the past has shaped Amherst College and may influence your future here? This course takes a dialogic approach to discussion where students and their teachers approach the history of higher education in America through the lens of Amherst College. Team taught by Professor Vigil in American Studies, and Mr. Kelly, Head of Archives and Special Collections at Amherst College, students will learn how to conduct original research using primary documents. In addition, students will participate in weekly writing assignments by contributing to our class blog. Students will also collaborate in planning an exhibition of college history drawn from the archives and other resources, which will culminate in a public event and online exhibition. Students will also document student life at the college in the face of digital ephemera to actively contribute to college history. Research topics and writing assignments, as well as a final term paper, will enable students to engage in a wide range of issues and topics, which may include, but are not limited to, the following: athletics, shifting demographics and “the rule of ten,” gender and sexuality, coeducation, 1960s activism and civil rights, student journalism, music and theater, scrapbooking, fraternities, war, missionaries, and international diplomacy.

Focused on College history this course takes an interdisciplinary approach to research and writing. Through both individual and group assignments students will practice archival and secondary source research, close reading, as well as informal, formal, and public online writing, in addition to giving a public presentation. As a writing attentive course students will have many opportunities to revise and refine their prose while working with their instructors. In addition, students will regularly meet in small groups throughout the semester to workshop each other’s writing pieces.

Fall semester.  Professor Vigil and Mr. Kelly (Head of Archives and Special Collections).

If Overenrolled: Handled by Dean of New Students


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014