Teaching and Research with Archival Collections

Working with Digital Collections

In lieu of a visit to class, you may have your students work with digital materials. Some tips:

  1. Have your students engage with a finding aid or descriptive information about materials posted on the web. This will often give you context about the materials themselves, along with what is included on the web and what may be left out. The descriptions may also reference related information that might be useful to you.
  2. Consider the format. Are these items text documents, photos, videos, or maps? Can you search the text? Can you play videos, or manipulate the maps? Can you have your students perform additional work with the items to enrich their understanding? (Comment on the videos, search across several texts for frequency of terms, compare maps of the same place over different time periods, etc.?)
  3. Contact an archivist with that collection to see if they can provide any additional information.

Images from the Baruch College Archives

An elderly Bernard Baruch, seated with students in front of a sign reading "Bernard M. Baruch School of The City College."

Bernard Baruch with students, ca. 1950s, from the Bernard Baruch Collection.

Planning a Class Visit

  • Are you visiting in person (as a class or sending students individually)? Or do you want to use digital material?

  • Advance notice: typically, archives staff need to prepare ahead of time for a class visit. Contacting your archives in advance helps ensure staff and resources are available to accommodate your visit, and also helps you determine the best collections to use for your visit, and how to use them.

  • In person class considerations:

    • How big is your class?

    • Are you doing just an intro session about how to use the archives and looking at some interesting objects?

    • What are the learning objectives of the course? How does this visit support your learning objectives? 

    • Do you want the students to do an assignment with the primary sources?

    • Will they have to select items to use as part of their research? If so, can they look at finding aids?

    • Will students need to make follow-up appointments to come research on their own? How will they get in contact with the archivist? (Is staff coverage available to accommodate this?)

Archivists at Baruch College

  • Jessica Webster is Digital Initiatives Librarian and Assistant Professor at Baruch College, City University of New York. She holds an MLS in archives and an MA in American History from the University of Maryland. Her research interests include material culture, trends in archival practice, documentation of underdocumented populations, collection of student life materials, and digital humanities labor in an archives and library context. Her work has been published in The American Archivist, Archival Issues, and Digital Humanities Quarterly, among others, and she has presented widely at archives, library, and digital humanities conferences. Her practical responsibilities include designing long-term archival preservation and access systems, developing workflows for processing born-digital materials, and selecting and digitizing print materials for access. She also has developed and taught an undergraduate course on archives, digital objects, and their role in contemporary culture.

  • Sarah Rappo is Assistant Archivist at Baruch College's Archives and Special Collections.

Making an Appointment at Newman Library

We love arranging for class visits and student research! If you would like to explore our collections, please visit our site here:


You may contact us directly at archives@baruch.edu

Exploring archival materials can be a rich and rewarding experience. Using original materials can often bring to light previously unknown facts as well as add originality to your research. The researcher visiting an archive has the privilege of seeing and holding a piece of history, an experience which the virtual student misses.

About Me

Profile Photo
Jessica Wagner Webster
Newman Library, 523