Tales from the Archives

What better way to celebrate Women’s History Month than a dive into the Women in Medicine archives and special collections?

Well that’s how I spent my spring break, at Drexel University in Philadelphia, in a room in the library basement poring over documents. I love research trips. So far my dissertation research has taken me to Little Rock, Atlanta, New Orleans, Galveston, D. C., and Nashville. With some travel funding from my university and some very creative planning (including sleeping on lots of couches), I made it all stretch.

My time in Philly was a lot like my other archival experiences. It’s always good to correspond with the archivist a few months before you go, so he/she can have things organized when you arrive. The archivist here had ten boxes of documents waiting for me, which was a bit overwhelming, but lots of fun.

I spent five days looking through everything, often finding clues to other materials in the original boxes. I also sneezed a lot–lots of dust in these old documents! In my case, I look at a lot of personal accession files, which include biographies, articles, and personal papers. I also look through yearbooks and university student newspapers, as well as oral histories. Sometimes photos are good helps, too.

Of course the best part of research trips is the traveling (and the archives’ short hours). My husband was on spring break so he came along and we got to see a lot of the city.

I think that was my last trip, but I have a few places left to go in Houston. But hopefully no more sneezing..

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