JOUR 774: Mining the National Archives

Ira Chinoy

Philip Merrill College of Journalism

University of Maryland






Readings and Assignments


Course description and goals:


Though the materials available for inspection at the National Archives are generally decades old, journalists have used them to research feature articles, investigative pieces, and even breaking news.  Scholars have also used the National Archives for research in journalism history, especially where that history intersects with the activities and policies of the United States government.  One of the primary facilities of the National Archives and Records Administration, an independent federal agency that oversees management of U.S. government records, is known as Archives II and is located at the edge of the College Park campus. At least half the class sessions take place at Archives II, and the course also includes a field trip to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Other class sessions are held on campus.


This course focuses on ways in which journalists, students and scholars can make use of Archives II – and archives more generally – in their reporting and research. This course also introduces students to the general principles and resources for archival research. Students hear from experts – archivists, journalists and authors – who are experienced in archival research. Students also read news reports, feature articles and books that rely on archival research.  Each student carries out a in-depth research project at Archives II and keeps a portfolio of reflections on the class sessions.


In addition to students in the journalism program, this course has been used by graduate students in the archives track at the iSchool (the College of Information Studies), graduate students studying history, and working journalists. Because of the variety in class members’ backgrounds and the range of their academic or career interests, students have chosen in the past to present the final project in one of a variety of formats: a detailed story memo, a work of journalism, a research paper, a documentary, or a website.