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W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library

A guide to accessing resources at the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library.

Why teach with archives?

Working with archival materials has a lot of benefits for your students.

Assignments involving archival research...

  • allow students to engage in something new and be active learners
  • invite students to invest in their learning and take ownership of their ideas
  • ensure unique approaches and creative output
  • provide you the opportunity to engage in collaborative pedagogy

Who do I contact?

You can contact Alex Boucher directly to

  • schedule an instruction session, either in the reading room or in your classroom
  • discuss how archives instruction can contribute to your course goals and learning outcomes
  • get help designing assignments that incorporate historical or primary source research / 348-6390

Your subject liaison can also help you identify databases and other library resources with primary sources. You can find them in the UA Libraries staff directory.

Planning your visit -- goals and outcomes

These activities/goals can be accomplished in a large group setting (i.e., with a whole class):

  • Introduce students to what archives are and how to use them
  • Expose students to specific resources in our collection (by format, subject, etc.)
  • Discuss with students how primary/historical research works
  • Allow students to practice analyzing primary/historical sources

This can best be accomplished in smaller groups, one-on-one consultations, or individual return trips:

  • Provide students time to conduct research

Remember that you can plan more than one visit, especially if you'd like whole group instruction + time for individual or group research or an analysis activity. In particular, that second visit can be done less formally, with individuals or groups coming to the library on their own; someone is always at the reference desk to help them.

The document below explains the kinds of learning outcomes we're prepared to address:


We have a couple of new tutorials available to acquaint your students with Hoole Library before the class makes a visit.

Both tutorials give them the opportunity to send an email confirmation to themselves or you, so that you can use the exercise for extra credit or a daily grade.

Learning with Special Collections

Looking at the Albers "color book," with April Bachtel's ART 302 (Nov. 4, 2015)

Showing off historical recipe projects, from Lauren Cardon's EN 455 (Dec. 1, 2016)

Examining Renaissance-era books, with Jennifer Roth-Burnette's UH 155 (Feb. 15, 2016)

Have you considered the Williams Collection?

Is your class focused on American history? Or do you just want to acquaint students with special collections and aren't picky about what kind of cool things they see? Consider bringing your class to the A. S. Williams III Americana Collection, located in Gorgas Library 301. 

The Williams Collection has the same basic policies and can serve as a fine introduction to working with our archives. Encompassing primary and secondary sources, it is more narrowly focused than Hoole, specializing in early American history; U.S. Presidential history; and Southern history, literature, and culture. For more information on the Williams Collection, check out its LibGuide.

If you're not sure whether Hoole or Williams would be the most pertinent to your needs, feel free to contact us and ask! Instruction in both places is done by Kate Matheny. You can also contact Williams staff directly at