Special Collections Freshman Fellows
Next Deadline: Sunday, September 6, 2020. The application period opens on Monday, July 13.
Info Sessions: Monday, August 3 at 11am and Friday, August 7 at 4pm
What Is the Special Collections Freshman Fellows Program?
Freshman Fellows is an academic opportunity designed to introduce students to conducting research with rare books, manuscripts, and archival material during their first year at the Johns Hopkins University. Students selected for the fellowship will:
- Conduct research with rare books, manuscripts, and archival collections;
- Analyze items of cultural significance and improve their research skills;
- Be partnered with a mentor in Special Collections who will provide them with individualized research plans;
- Create an end-product of their choosing that focuses on their research, such as an academic talk, a poster presentation, or an online exhibition;
- Receive a $1,000 research award in May 2021.
While the Special Collections Reading Room will be open to researchers during the fall and spring semesters, the program will support students who will be attending classes remotely or who would prefer to limit their exposure to library spaces. Mentors are happy to meet with students via Zoom or other online channels, and digitized versions of rare materials that align with this year’s research topics are available for students to download.
Alumni of the Freshman Fellows Program
Freshman Fellows was launched in 2016, and alumni of the program have used the experience to obtain additional research grants, such as the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Award (DURA) and Arts Innovation Grants.
Past Fellows have translated and researched obscure post-Roman Latin texts; explored collections of advertisements, women’s magazines, and books to discover how the 19th century Dress Reform movement impacted first wave feminism; traced the history of Black student activism at Hopkins ; and examined the development of ornithological illustrations through the centuries. They have shared their research through curated displays in the Special Collections Reading Room, poster sessions, and public talks. Feeling inspired? Consider applying to be a Freshman Fellow!
How to Apply
The Freshman Fellows program is very competitive; we only select four students to participate each year. Applications are limited to members of the JHU class of 2024. In order to apply, simply write an essay of no more than 750 words discussing why you want to be part of the program and which one of the pre-selected topics you would like to explore.
Please contact Heidi Herr, the program manager, for questions about the research topics or for guidance with the application process. Submit your essay by 11:59PM on Sunday, September 6 to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
This Year’s Research Topics
Cooks & Their Books (Mentor: Heidi Herr)
Love cooking . . . the books? Then why not spend your freshman year on a culinary odyssey featuring hedgehogs for dessert, manly sandwiches, and radical vegetarian women! Cookbooks reveal not just what people ate or aspired to consume, but also intriguing glimpses into such things as cultural trends, the impact of colonialism on nutrition, and the development of national character. Explore our collection of 18th, 19th, and mid-20th century cookbooks, and while you are at it, try to whip up a recipe or two, learn how to roast a peacock, and treat the bite of a mad dog. Take a delicious (or deliciously disgusting) tour of foodways of yore!
Not lost in TransLATI(o)N (Mentor: Paul Espinosa)
The Latin language did not end with the great Roman writers, such as Cicero or Catullus. Latin had a long, wonderful, and interesting afterlife, all because of its beauty and efficiency. Develop your Latin skills while helping the JHU Libraries translate short and interesting Latin texts that date from the Renaissance era, which have remained untranslated. Designed for a student with decent Latin experience and interested in growing those grammatical skills. You do not have to be a Classics or Literature major, and since almost every modern subject once came to us in Latin (medicine, theology, history, science) we can find a subject to suit your interest.
Fantastic Voyages: Mistaken Identity and Flat-Out Lies on Historical Maps (Mentor: Amy K. Kimball)
Long before Google Earth and satellite imaging from space, new places were discovered and described based on eyewitness accounts, written voyage reports, and not a small amount of creativity. Cartographers copied from each other, sometimes with no or little fact-checking, so mistakes and myths carried from map to map. The most famous may be Atlantis, but there are so many others. Hy Brasil, Thule, Bermeja, and Fusang just to name a few. You will have the opportunity to consider historic maps, atlases, and travel accounts from the 15th century forward. Get to know the mysterious, crescent-shaped island of Mayda, which may have vanished beneath the waves. Or explore whether 5th century Buddhist monks traveled from Mexico to China. There are many routes you could follow – where will the trade winds take you?
Rachel Carson and the Experience of Women Students at Hopkins (Mentor: Jim Stimpert)
Rachel Carson, the author of the landmark environmental studies book The Silent Spring, was a graduate student at Hopkins from 1929-1932, a time when there were very few female students on campus. What was Carson’s student experience like? Explore Carson’s extensive student file to learn about her life at Hopkins, and perhaps compare her experiences to those of other graduate women attending a mostly male institution. For instance, what barriers did women graduate students encounter in the early 20th century? What were the attitudes of her fellow (male) graduate students? Her professors?