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Working in the Archives

Working in the Archives

Practical Research Methods for Rhetoric and Composition

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Edited by Alexis E. Ramsey, Wendy B. Sharer, Barbara L'Eplattenier, Lisa S. Mastrangelo


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
336 pages, 6.125 x 9.25, 19 illustrations


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About the Book

Archival research of any magnitude can be daunting. With this in mind, Alexis E. Ramsey, Wendy B. Sharer, Barbara L’Eplattenier, and Lisa Mastrangelo have developed an indispensable volume for the first-time researcher as well as the seasoned scholar. Working in the Archives is a guide to the world of rhetoric and composition archives, from locating an archival source and its materials to establishing one’s own collection of archival materials. This practical volume provides insightful information on a variety of helpful topics, such as basic archival theory, processes, and principles; the use of hidden or digital archives; the intricacies of searching for and using letters and photographs; strategies for addressing the dilemmas of archival organization without damaging the provenance of materials; the benefits of seeking sources outside academia; and the difficult (yet often rewarding) aspects of research on the Internet.

Working in the Archives moves beyond the basics to discuss the more personal and emotional aspects of archival work through the inclusion of interviews with experienced researchers such as Lynée Lewis Gaillet, Peter Mortensen, Kathryn Fitzgerald, Kenneth Lindblom, and David Gold. Each shares his or her personal stories of the joys and challenges that face today’s researchers.          

Packed with useful recommendations, this volume draws on the knowledge and experiences of experts to present a well-rounded guidebook to the often winding paths of academic archival investigation. These in-depth yet user-friendly essays provide crucial answers to the myriad questions facing both fledgling and practiced researchers, making Working in the Archives an essential resource.


Alexis E. Ramsey is an assistant professor of rhetoric at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has worked for the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections and published on peer mentoring.

Wendy B. Sharer, an associate professor of English at East Carolina University, is the author or editor of three books, including Vote and Voice: Women’s Organizations and Political Literacy, 1915–1930.

Barbara L’Eplattenier is an associate professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. She is the coeditor (with Lisa Mastrangelo) of Historical Studies of Writing Program Administration: Individuals, Communities, and the Formation of a Discipline, and has contributed chapters to a number of edited collections, including the SIU Press volume Beyond the Archives.


Lisa Mastrangelo, an associate professor of English at the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, New Jersey, is the coeditor (with Barbara L’Eplattenier) of Historical Studies of Writing Program Administration: Individuals, Communities, and the Formation of a Discipline.She has published articles in Rhetoric Review, Composition Studies, and other journals.


“A terrific collection of essays . . . helpful to both a novice and veteran scholar doing archival work.”—Lucille M. Schultz, coauthor of Archives of Instruction andwinner of the 2006 Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize from the Modern Language Association.