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Special Collections and Archives Research at UIC and Beyond

Overview of Special Collections and University Archives Services

Teaching with Archival Sources

*Due to Covid-19 we recommend digitized historical materials that can be found online, e.g. digital exhibits, digitized rare books, etc. In this instance, learning objectives can focus on digital literacy skills.

We welcome faculty, students, and community members. Instruction in the Special Collections library can be tailored to your course objectives. We have locations on both sides of campusDaley library collections mainly reflect history in the humanities, the Library of the Health Sciences (LHS) collections focus on health sciences history, and both collections are composed of materials from the 20th and 21st century history of Chicago.

What we can do for you

Orientation to SCUA:

The Value of Special Collections Instruction for your Students

Our instruction sessions introduce your students to archival research. From the moment they walk through our doors, students will experience the uniqueness of Special Collections, and learn the fundamentals of primary source research. Instruction sessions are planned and organized based on the subject of your course, and Special Collections instruction librarians work in collaboration with teaching faculty to make the session(s) fun, and to meet course goals. In general students will learn the difference between archival sources and other sources. Students will also come into contact with other parts of our collection, and complete a document analysis where they will respond to questions that encourage critical thinking about their position as historical subjects. These skills are invaluable, as experience with Special Collections resources will build confidence, and teach them to do independent research in other course work.

·  *Active learning with Hands-on Activities

o   Historical mapping (Special Collections, history, and geography lesson in one session)

o   Hull House Bingo

o   Mini Exhibits



We collaborate with teaching faculty to meet learning objectives of the course, and learning objectives of the Special Collections instruction session. We request that you provide us with a syllabus that includes the research project, and encourage remote instruction or visits be scheduled prior to any research project assigned.

Sample of courses for which we have provided instruction:

o   Course: History and Theories in Feminism (GWS 292; N.Moruzzi)

 Collection: Hull House collection

  • Sessions focused on using student-created and professor approved themes involving the Hull House collection

  • Document analysis

  • Three or more visits to Special Collections for independent learning and research

o   Course: Public History (HIST424; L. Hudson) 

Collection: Atlantic Slave Trade collection

Activity: Mini Exhibit

  • Working within a designated amount of time

  • Creating titles and descriptions for exhibit

  • Document analysis and identifying the relationship between historical documents

o  Courses: Readings in Atlantic Slavery (HON124; N. Cirillo) and African Diaspora (AAST229; L. Jackson) 

Collections: Atlantic Slave Trade and Sierra Leone collections 

Activity: Mapping the Atlantic Slave Trade; document analysis

Schedule an instruction session

Special Collections has something to offer most classes, even those in fields that typically do not involve historical research. See what we have to offer your students.

  • Nursing History

    • Sample Activities: Document analysis of nursing guidelines, mini-exhibit

  • BIOS 431/435 (Biological Sciences) or NATS 104

    • We have a collection of rare herbarium texts

  • Occupational Therapy

    • Compare and contrast OT photos/news clips with current coursework/experience

  • Public Health

    • Session(s) (or field trip) focused on using student-created and professor approved themes involving public health materials