I am knee-deep in the archives’ box number 4874: London Semester. Over the past few weeks I have been busy organizing the materials from the Dominican University program, which dates back to 1971. At first glance the box contains nothing extraordinary–the tutorials, housing lists, budgets, and correspondence of the hundreds of students and numerous directors who have spent their Autumn studying in Britain.
But the more I work on it, the more exciting it becomes. Stories unfold, lives become real, and I am finding a great desire to–at the drop of a hat–tour the British countryside with the works of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Henry Fielding, T.S. Eliot, and Geoffery Chaucer as my guides. How lucky 36 years of students are to have had such an opportunity, even if, as some of the notes can attest, not everyone bothered to read the books.
The depth of information these folders contain is immense. Watching the program evolve and change has been quite an experience: moving from home-stays to hostels to dorms, adapting the courses and research projects to accommodate the schedules and interests of students, and the discovering the suggestions of the director in each year’s closing report.
If you are in need of a research project I suggest stopping by. Sister Jeanne would be overjoyed to assist you. There is so much here to discover. And if you feel the need to conduct research first-hand, please buy my flight to London as well.