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Teaching with Special Collections & Archives

A guide for faculty interested in instruction sessions using Special Collections & Archives

Traditional Instruction Sessions

In traditional one-shot instruction sessions, classes visit Special Collections & Archives to work directly with primary source materials. For the most part, we avoid "show and tell" sessions, opting instead of students to analyze and interact with materials. Examples of recent instruction sessions include: 

  • Computer Science students examining obsolete media formats to understand preservation issues with aging technology
  • Sports Management students researched the history of athletic facilities on Trinity's campus
  • Studio Art students took inspiration from illustrated books and ephemera for an assigned piece
  • English students compared different editions to better understand printing history
  • Public History students created an online exhibit using archival materials
  • Anthropology students searched for specific images and symbols across the Mesoamerican facsimile collection

Independent Student Visits

Independent student visits take place outside of class time. Generally, students are expected to conduct these visits during our open hours, but we always are willing to accommodate appointment requests outside of these hours with reasonable notice. These visits can take several forms: 

Course Reserves: Items selected by the instructor or librarian are placed on reserve for independent student visits to examine the materials. 

Research Appointments: Students schedule research appointments to work with material related to research assignments. 

We request that instructors alert the special collections librarian ahead of time if students will be required to visit Special Collections & Archives. This allows us to ensure that the reading room will be fully staffed and best prepared to support students' research needs. We are also happy to "drop-in" on your class in anticipation of assigned research appointments to introduce ourselves and guidelines for visiting SCA to the entire class. 


Is there something in Special Collections that you want to share with your class, but you are unable to fit an instruction session into your syllabus? Are you just looking for material for a few slides? We began digitizing material for instruction during the pandemic, and will continue to do so upon request. Examples of materials digitized for classroom use are: 

Items on the library's Digital Collections page linked above need to comply with copyright law (either be in the public domain, Trinity owns the copyright, or permission granted by the copyright holder). However, we can provide scans of other material for classroom/TLearn use, following fair use guidance.