Teaching with LWL Collections

June 3, 2019

In keeping with the Yale University Library mission statement to provide “outstanding support for teaching, learning, research, and practice” the Lewis Walpole Library has developed a robust program of public services and outreach, including lectures, workshops, exhibitions, conferences, fellowships and travel grants, and classes. This year the Library has been particularly successful in reaching out locally resulting in class visits from Trinity College in Hartford and Miss Porter’s School in Farmington. LWL Curator Cynthia Roman has been collaborating with senior art history faculty member and long-time friend of the LWL Alden Gordon at Trinity on a seminar course “Comics, Cartoons & Caricature.” Three of the class sessions have been held in the Reading Room at the LWL during which undergraduates looked at the Library’s renowned collection of caricatures and graphic satire. One student returned to use the collections in connection with her course paper. Dr. Roman and Professor Gordon participated in a panel on print room pedagogy at the conference of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

Head of Public Services Susan Walker’s efforts to make connections with the faculty Miss Porter’s School, the girls’ preparatory school in the center of Farmington which Annie Burr Lewis and other women in her family attended, have borne fruit. Last autumn a combined English and History class of juniors and seniors came to the Library to interact with primary sources relating to colonial Farmington and the British view of the American revolution. This spring, a ninth-grade Western Civilization class came to the LWL to explore collections related to the British view of the French Revolution. Students were introduced to the concepts and practical considerations of engaging with primary sources and were paired up to examine and analyze the selected items which ranged from a manuscript account book of an Englishman living in Paris to a scrapbook of eighteenth-century newspaper clippings about the Revolution to relevant satirical prints by Gillray and Dent. The students approached the exercise with inquisitiveness, confidence, and enthusiasm. We encourage more classes to contact us about making primary source literacy through a visit to the LWL part of their curriculum next year.