IEHS Online

Ellen Engseth, “Resources for you at the IHRC Archives”

I am happy to share with you about the resources at the IHRC Archives available for your work on im/migration and ethnic history, including some funding opportunities.

The Immigration History Research Center Archives (aka IHRCA, or IHRC Archives) is a renowned archives and library for the study of immigration, ethnicity, and race. With our partners, the Immigration History Research Center, we are the oldest and largest such archives and research center in the United States. We continue a well-established and excellent tradition of helping to ensure that a broad range of immigrant and refugee experiences and voices are documented.

We welcome you to the collections here, either by visiting us at the University of Minnesota or working with us from a distance. Our home is the Elmer L. Andersen Library, a state-of-the-art archives facility on the University’s West Bank campus, and we also provide a robust portfolio of distance services for those of you unable to visit us in person. These include research consultation, help with identification of material, and digital copies of selected material.

The IHRC Archives is particularly rich regarding first and second generations of those who came to the USA from central, eastern, and southern Europe; the “Near East” region of Middle East and North Africa; and late-20th and early 21st century immigrants and refugees from Africa and Southeast Asia. We also collect the records of institutions and individuals concerned with service to and programs for im/migrants, including the most recent newcomers from throughout the world. Our collections are strongest post-1880 through to the early 21st century, particularly regarding the labor migrants who came to the U.S. between 1880 and the 1930s, displaced persons who arrived after World War II, and refugees resettled in the United States from 1975 on. We collect in a wide variety of formats including audio-visual, born-digital, organizational records and personal papers, and print material (primary and secondary sources in the form of books, newspapers, and serials). We hold the papers of a few historians and others, and you may be interested to know that we are also the home to the IEHS’ own historical records!

To begin your research process with us, send us an email or explore our online guides, called finding aids, to browse and read about what might be useful to you. A large portion of our print collection is cataloged in the University Libraries’ catalog. Some digital versions, useful and freely accessible for your teaching, are online through our “UMedia” portal, the Minnesota Digital Library, and the Digital Public Library of America. Digitizing Immigrant Letters, a curated collection of emotive, multilingual (though fully translated) postal-era correspondence, is also available; and this year we are currently developing a new “front door” for that project that will be very user- and search-friendly.

Opportunities for Funding

I invite you to consider applying for our signature Grant-in-Aid Awards. We offer these annually, for support of a research visit. These awards are available through co-sponsorship from the Immigration History Research Center and the IHRC Archives through our ethnic and general funds. Grant-in-Aid awards are open to scholars of all levels, including independent scholars, and support a visit of 5 days or more. Typically, awards are for $1,000, and four awards are given each year. The application is due June 1st, and the visit is to occur within the next 13 months. The funds defray expenses for those of you based outside of the Minneapolis-St. Paul (MN) metro area. Awards are competitive and based upon research specific to the our collections. Awardees are in residence for 5 working days or more, and we ask they acknowledge the Archives and the award in resulting publication/s, donate any print publications, and participate in one of our lecture and research series when feasible.

The University of Minnesota Libraries’ Department of Archives of Special Collections, to which we belong, provides a further funding opportunity for scholars. The Elmer L Andersen Research Scholars Program provides funding for scholarly research projects utilizing any one of the excellent collections in the Archives and Special Collections. These include the IHRC Archives as well as our closely-related collections: the Social Welfare History Archives, the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives, and the YMCA Archives.

Lastly, please feel free to contact me to discuss your own unique research material that you feel would benefit from access and preservation in an archives; I am happy to consult with you to locate the best place for them or to offer perspective on library and archival collections, the donation process, or the public use of your research collections. Let’s collectively ensure that future immigration and ethnic history research and study are well provided for.

Best wishes for your research.

Ellen Engseth is Curator of the Immigration History Research Center Archives and Head of Migration and Social Services Collections at the University of Minnesota Libraries. This group of Migration and Social Services Collections includes the Immigration History Research Center Archives, the Kautz Family YMCA Archives, the Social Welfare History Archives, and the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives.

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