Student Scholarship with Special Collections

The Special Collections offer students an opportunity to learn through engagement with rare or unique items. Here you’ll find student research projects that use primary sources, such as rare books, maps, photographs, letters, and other manuscripts.

student scholarship

Course Projects

Faculty may schedule class visits and work with librarians and the archivist to create assignments for their courses that use the unique primary sources available only in the Special Collections at Hope College.

English 495: Biography course with Natalie Dykstra

This course investigated the literature and lives of several key writers in mid-19thcentury America, with an emphasis on the genre and demands of biography. The final project asked students to identify a person in our archives, write a substantial biographical portrait of that person based on primary and secondary sources, and develop some form of digital scholarship to compliment the portrait.

Visit the class Omeka, with projects by Cara Haley, Bill Gestchman, Courtney Fall, Taylor Rebhan, and Kevin Wonch.

History course with Marc Baer and Gloria Tseng

A project team of Hope College History majors and professors set out to explore the lives of late-19th to mid-20th century missionaries to China while gaining perspectives on how to think critically and historically. Using collections of the Reformed Church in America missionaries' papers deposited at the Joint Archives, in this video Madalyn Northuis, Eric Dawson and Rebekah Llorens explain how they worked together on their projects, and in the process learned the historian's craft by doing research.

View the documentary about the student projects created by Madalyn Northuis, Eric Dawson and Rebekah Llorens.

ART 361: Special Projects in Art History "Reading Between the Lines" Fall 2011 Athina Alvarez, Hannah Bush, Amanda Dewey, Jacob Dombrowski, Kristen Dunn, Katherine Kirby, Colleen Kolba, Sara McMullin, Cynthia Schutt, Katie Sluiter, Dr. Anne Heath

In this seminar, students curated an exhibition in the DePree Galery (Feb. 24- March 24, 2012) on the history and production of books, taking examples from the Hope College rare book collection. This wonderful collection features books dating from the 15th through 20th centuries, and originating from Italy, France, England, Bali, China, and the United States. Students chose books that connected to their other studies at Hope, including Baroque art, Modern art, literature, mathematics, education, botany, and geography. The range of time, place of origin, and subject was truly impressive. The fall seminar included a day-long workshop on book history and production by Martin Antonetti, Curator of Rare Books at Smith College in Northampton, MA. Taylor Wise-Hawthorne, Museum and Gallery Manager at the Holland Museum gave a presentation on organizing exhibitions. The students contributed to all aspects of this exhibition, including doing the primary research, writing catalog and wall texts, designing the gallery layout and publicity materials.

View the photographs of the exhibitions from this seminar.

ART 361: Special Projects in Art History Fall 2008 "The Printed Image" Rebecca Bethard, Theresa Fernandez, Madelyn Rzadkowolski, Jaclyn Sweet, Alissa Tassopoulos, Allison VanDenend, Audrey Wasielewski, Katherine Wilbur, Dr. Anne Heath

Students in this seminar curated an exhibition in the DePree Gallery (Feb. 23 - March 13, 2009) of prints and drawings collected by Hope College friend and honorary doctorate recipient, Dr. Richard Wunder. Each student selected thematically related works on which to conduct primary research on each print's or drawing's authorship, provenance, style, iconography and original context and connected them to Wunder's collecting practices. The students contributed to all aspects of this exhibition, including doing the primary research, writing catalog and wall texts, designing the gallery layout and publicity materials. For the opening of the exhibition, the students organized a symposium on print culture and Dr. Wunder's collection. The two keynote speakers were Dr. Hope Saska of the Detroit Institute of Arts, and Dr. Timothy Smith, Associate Professor or Art History at Birmingham Southern College.

View the photographs of the exhibitions from this seminar.


Student Projects

Students are also welcome to develop their own, faculty-guided projects using Special Collections. Below are several examples that not only exemplify the wide range of possibilities for research using unique primary sources, but the effectiveness of student-faculty collaboration and cutting edge digital scholarship produced by students.

The 1876 Centennial Exposed: How Souvenir Publications Reveal Contrasting Attitudes of Race and Gender in the Post-bellum United States - Hope Hancock, English, Mellon Scholar 2014

The Centennial Exhibition of 1876 celebrated not only the 100-year anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence but the industrial innovation and reuniting of American society after the Civil War.  Using two rare books about the Exhibiton, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Historical Register of the Centennial Exposition, 1876 and The Illustrated Historical Register of the Centennial Exhibition by James Dabney McCabe, Jr., this project compares the portrayal of women and African Americans in the late 19th-century United States.

To Be Preserved: Frances Otte and the Historical Development of Identity - Kevin Wonch, advised by Jonathan Hagood (in process) 2014

After being one of the first two women to graduate from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, Frances Otte was an integral member of John A. Otte's Amoy medical mission, both as an assistant to John and worker with the patients, as well as a mother to her and John's growing family.

Echoes from the Archive - By Madeline Muncy, advised by Natalie Dykstra 2013

Echoes from the Archive is an experiment in the connection between new media and traditional scholarship. Blurring the lines between academia and popular culture, Echoes serves to change the way we think and interact with the past.

Ruth Keppel: Holland, Michigan’s Collective Historical Memory - By Madeline Muncy, advised by Natalie Dykstra 2012

This project seeks to tell Ruth's story, the story of her family and her ancestors. It seeks to link heritage with the present, to understand the traces the Keppels left behind in present day Holland.