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Learning Lab interns work closely with a single, unprocessed collection held by the Special Collections Research Center. Unprocessed collections are not available to outside researchers, and while archivists have a general idea of the collections' contents, they don't always know what they'll find when they open the box. As a Learning Lab intern, you will be the first person to open the box and explore the papers, photographs, or other materials that make up your collection. Over the course of the year-long internship, you will organize, describe, and creatively engage with your collection to produce an original scholarly research project. 

When you apply for the internship, you should have an idea of the collection you would like to work with. All of our available collections are listed by subject below. Our collections vary widely across time periods and contain an assortment of materials that appeal to students across majors. The collection that you choose will be the subject of your short application essay describing your interests and what you hope to learn from working with archival materials.

You can see the many directions you can take archival research, and the interdisciplinary opportunities available to our interns, by taking a look at past Learning Lab projects

Become a Learning Lab Intern

Applications for the Learning Lab Internship are accepted annually in the Spring.

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Available Collections

Art, Architecture, & Music

  • Goff family papers, 1900-1940s. Anna Chandler Goff and her brother Sudduth Goff were both artists. She was a pianist, patron of the arts, and founder of the Lexington College of Music; her brother was a painter who taught in Chicago. This collection contains family papers, photographs, clippings, exhibit catalogs, and correspondence related to both Goffs. (Subjects: music, philanthropy, art, community, education) 2009ms158
  • Rena Lipetz Niles papers, 1930-1982. Russian-born and educated at Wellesley and the Sorbonne in Paris, Rena Lipetz (1913-1996) married American composer and Kentuckian John Jacob Niles in 1936. Her papers include travel diaries, correspondence, and writings. Much is known about her famous husband, but this is an opportunity to learn more about the woman who managed his business affairs and was accomplished in her own right. (Subjects: travel; music; literature)
  • Tuska Studio records, 1978-2017. Collection contains studio and arts administration records of former UK ceramics professor John Tuska. He is known for his work that illustrates the physicality of the human form, and his work can be seen on the UK campus in the Fine Arts Building and Library. (Subjects: art; sculpture; arts administration) 2018ms027


Civil Rights, Social Justice, Feminism, & Activism

  • Patricia Cooper collection on feminism, 1960s-1970s. Feminist publications, newspaper clippings, and ephemera that includes materials from the Cleveland Women’s Liberation Movement and the Dayton Women’s Liberation front from the 1960s to the 1970s. (Subjects: feminism) 2018ms059
  • Victor Howard Collection on Civil Rights and Church-State, 1907-1989. Victor Howard was a professor at Morehead State University who collected materials on the struggle for Civil Rights in America. His collection contains speeches, newspapers, ephemera (that means flyers or other materials that are of an ephemeral nature), and legislation for Civil Rights efforts in numerous states. For the Learning Lab project, you will focus on the section of the collection that pertains to Civil Rights in Kentucky from 1956 to 1976. (Subjects: civil rights; sociology; religion; politics; human rights) 2009ms014
  • Mildred Hunt paper, 1963-2005. Mildred (Mim) Hunt is credited with starting the Lexington Human Rights Commission (LHRC). This collection contains newspaper clippings related to her life and work with God’s Pantry in Lexington and the LHRC. Also included are correspondence, photographs, and a recording of a 2003 interview. (Subjects: human rights, community service) 2023ms041
  • Ed Johnstone papers, 1970s-1980s. Ed Johnstone, a legendary federal judge in Paducah, Kentucky, was instrumental in overhauling prison conditions in the Kentucky State Reformatory and the Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women. Johnstone’s collection documents these cases, which were part of a movement for prison reform litigation that swept the country in the 1970s and 1980s. (Subjects: law; prison reform) 2022ms056
  • Lexington Committee on Religion and Human Rights records, 1963-1967. The Lexington Committee on Religion and Human Rights was established in 1963 to fight racial and religious discrimination. It worked for open housing, non-discrimination in public accommodations, voting rights, and integration of the University of Kentucky athletic teams, among other civil rights goals. The collection contains meeting minutes, letters, and newsletters. (Subjects: Civil Rights, human rights, religion, athletics, desegregation, voting rights, housing) 75m10
  • Abby Marlatt papers, 1945-2007. Abby Marlatt (1916-2010) was a professor of home economics at UK and a human rights and social justice activist in Lexington. She founded the Lexington chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), which pioneered the use of nonviolent civil disobedience in the fight for American Civil Rights. CORE is well known for his work supporting the Montgomery Bus Boycott and working with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Working with this collection will provide an opportunity to study how CORE operated in Lexington during this time period. (Subjects: human rights; Civil Rights; social justice; housing; activism) 2012ms050
  • Hattie Lee Gray Marshall scrapbook, 1914-1970s. The Marshall family scrapbook contains photographs, clippings, and organizational bylaws related to the lives of the Marshall family from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. The Marshalls, a Black family, cut out newspaper clippings related to Civil Rights, slavery, athletics, school desegregation, education, fairs, and important events in their small community. (Subjects: segregation, early 20th century history, community, education) 2023ms017
  • Tenant Services and Organization Assistance, Inc. records, 1972-1980. Collection contains reports, articles, and correspondence related to Central Kentucky Legal Services, Lexington Housing Authority, and Community Development activities in Lexington in the 1970s. (Subjects: housing; poverty; legal services; aging) 1997ms296

The Depression & WWII

  • Arnold Wolfgang Joseph family papers, 1930s-2010. Includes research files, scrapbook, newspaper clippings, and artifacts (suitcase and lemon) relating to the experience and life of Arnold Wolfgang Joseph and his immigration to the United States from Germany in the 1930s as a part of the One Thousand Children program. Includes genealogical and research information compiled by his daughters after his death, his YIVO file, a scrapbook of his family sent to him following WWII, and his suitcase and a lemon given to him by his mother. (Subjects: immigration; WWII; children) 2022ms044
  • Eula Mae Morgan diaries, 1930-1935. Morgan wrote the first diary as a 21-year-old student from Cropper, Kentucky, in 1930. She writes of school, romances, and being involved in the Eastern Star. Her 1935 diary finds her as a married woman keeping house and working for her physician father. (Subjects: women’s history, the Depression, education) 2023ms009

Early Kentucky & American History

  • Bourbon County, Kentucky, land records, 1786-1820. Early land records from Bourbon County that date to the formation of the Commonwealth. (Subjects: environment; law; agriculture; early Kentucky history; land; wealth) 46M94
  • William S. Dallam letter to Thomas, 1800s. The Dallam letter seems to be in response to a request by Thomas to establish his title to freedom. Thomas, formerly enslaved, was manumitted in Maryland, which means he gained his freedom. But there must have been a need to know the names of his parents, which he did not know. This letter brings to light many of the hurdles Thomas faced on his legal path to freedom. (Subjects: freedom; slavery; documentation; lineage; law) 2021ms059
  • Duncan papers, 1790s-1930s. Among the Duncan papers are items related to Charles Dupuy’s emancipation from slavery. While enslaved, Dupuy worked as Henry Clay’s valet at the Ashland estate in Lexington and traveled often to Washington, D.C. He was manumitted in 1844 and continued to work for Clay until 1848. He later moved to Washington, D.C. and lived there with his family. (Subjects: slavery; land sale; emancipation) 87m6
  • J.S. Hughes letter. Hughes was one of a group of imprisoned Confederate officers known as “the “Immortal Six Hundred” held at Fort Pulaski, South Carolina, in 1864. In this letter, Hughes accounts the terrible conditions and maps out a blockade-running opportunity with considerable profit potential. He also instructs the recipient on how to smuggle letters to him in prison. (Subjects: Civil War, prisoners of war, prison conditions, subterfuge) 2023ms001
  • William H. Nickels letterpress book, 1874-1877. This book contains more than 700 outgoing letters from Nickels, general merchant, town trustee, and postmaster of Whitesburg, Kentucky. Nickels built the first brick house in Whiteburg and went on to own the general store that provided so much to the town. You’ll learn about early business in Kentucky following the Crash of 1873 and so much about the town’s residents through the goods they purchased. (Subjects: business; shipping; consumer goods; postal routes; mail; pension claims; Crash of 1873) 2007ms091
  • James Reid homesteading letter, 1790. James Reid wrote to his wife and detailed his arrival in Kentucky and his journey to Kentucky, construction of their house, and attempts at homesteading. (Subjects: early Kentucky history; farming; settlement) 2021ms031
  • Henry K. Reynolds travel journal, 1839-1840. Travel along with Henry K. Reynolds as he explored the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers from the fall of 1839 to the spring of 1840.(Subjects: travel; Mississippi River; environment)
  • William and John Richardson indenture of orphans to Daniel Bryan, 1804. In 1804, two orphaned brothers were indentured to work and learn the “art and mystery of gunsmiths” as well as receive a basic education from Daniel Bryan, a noted Kentucky pioneer and Revolutionary War veteran. (Subjects: labor; child welfare; education; gunsmithing) 2022ms001
  • Ann Biddle Wilkinson letters, 1786-1789. Wilkinson, the wife of General James Wilkinson, wrote letters to her father in Philadelphia chronicling the challenges faced adjusting to life in pre-statehood Kentucky. These four letters discuss conflict with Native Americans and difficulties faced by her husband as he advocated statehood for Kentucky. (Subjects: Pioneer history, early Kentucky) 2023ms059


  • Choctaw Indian Academy collections, 1831-1900s. The Choctaw Indian Academy was a school near Georgetown, Kentucky, for Native Americans who were forcibly removed from their lands under the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Originally Baptists started the school, but it later became a federally funded institution. The Academy building still stands, although it is in severe disrepair. Documents in the collections include correspondence from administrators about the school and a manuscript and play about the school. (Subjects: Native American removal, Indian boarding schools, public policy, American history, government, education, historic preservation, architecture)
  • Martin C. Krimm newsletters, 1964-1968. Collection contains newsletters written primarily by University of Kentucky Electrical Engineering faculty member Martin C. Krimm, dating from 1964-1968. Each edition of the newsletter includes multiple pages of transcriptions of excerpts various publications (newspapers, books, letters received by Krimm) and Krimm's commentary on the magic, mysticism, and interrelationships among education and teaching, religion, politics, history, the state of the world, and the University. (Subjects: education, religion, politics, UK) 2006ua013

Environment, Engineering, & Transportation

  • Hiram Graham papers, 1915-1950. Hiram Graham was a UK professor and dean of the College of Engineering. He served as a Captain of Engineers with the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe during WWI. He was also a consultant on engineering projects related to damming rivers, mining coal, and rail construction. This collection contains plans for those projects and environmental impacts. (Subjects: engineering; dam construction; coal mining; military; environmentalism; geography; infrastructure) 0000UA094
  • Green Line System papers, 1880-1958. The Green Line System was an amalgamation of traction companies that served the northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area since 1876. The collection contains reports, clippings, correspondence, newsletters, and photographs regarding transportation in the area from 1880-1958. (Subjects: transportation, trains, mass transit, regional history, technology) 87M9
  • Edward LaFontaine papers, 1970s-1990s. Edward LaFontaine served as a pilot in WWII and later became the Director of Aeronautics for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This collection contains notes, policies, and planning documents related to aviation and airports in Kentucky. (Subjects: aviation, planning, transportation, government) 2023ms107
  • Gary A. O'Dell collection on Kentucky springs and springhouses, 1988-2001. O’Dell studied springs and springhouses in Kentucky and created seven binders’ worth of information on property ownership, geological details, images, and maps on the subject. (Subjects: water, conservation, maps, land use, ecology) 2024ms005
  • United States National Weather Service Lexington Weather Bureau records, 1873-1988. This collection contains the official handwritten daily accounts of weather in Lexington from 1873 to 1988. For your research, specific time periods should be selected because the data is so detailed and voluminous. This is an exciting opportunity to research weather trends, compare past weather with modern weather, and explore significant storms of the past. (Subjects: weather; climate; meteorology; climate change; environment) 2022ms006

Government & Politics

  • Political broadsides, 1800s-1900s. Given that 2024 is a presidential election year, numerous small collections containing political broadsides will be selected for a student to study. (Subjects: politics, marketing, communication)

Industry & Culture

  • Hywel Davies papers, 1894-1908. Davies worked as a business agent at the University of Kentucky, but he worked in the coal industry before he came to UK in 1913. This collection contains papers related to his work with the Kentucky Coal Operators Association and the Main Jellico Mountain Coal Company in Whitley County, Kentucky, and offers a glimpse into the world of coal mining and marketing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (Subjects: coal mining; labor; business; marketing) 0000UA065
  • Rod Mullen collection on Synanon, 1960s-1990s. Rod Mullen was a former member of Synanon, a group that originally began as a drug rehabilitation program in California during the 1960s. It later became an alternative community and then developed into a cult named the Church of Synanon. Multiple criminal convictions, the death of its founder, and the IRS revoking its tax-exempt status forced the group to disband in 1991. The collection contains Synanon organizational papers from the time Mullen was a member. (Subjects: cults, radicalism, drug addition, therapy, counterculture)
  • Ward Family papers, 1845-1930. The Ward Family of Bourbon County, Kentucky, bred Standardbred horses, Berkshire hogs, and Jersey cattle. James Clay Ward was a well-known horse show judge at Kentucky State Fairs and even officiated at the Madison Square Garden Show in New York. Records in this collection contain stud books, stock books, and photographs related to the family farm in Bourbon County. (Subjects: horse industry; Standardbreds; trotting and saddle horses; Kentucky State Fair; horse shows; judging; horse breeding; farming) 1997ms242

Rare Books, Manuscripts, & Artifacts

  • Autoritates Arestotilis, an incunabula (early printed book) from the 1490s is a series of abbreviations from major philosophers that has been annotated and underlined by a contemporary reader in ink through the medical sections, where they have also added a note at the back about cadavers. This researcher would need to have a reading knowledge of Latin and would be great for someone interested in philosophy, the history of medicine, or reader responses. 
  • The Cruise Book of Maps is a gay travel guide from the 1980s that contains descriptions and advertisements throughout the United States including brief entries for Lexington and Louisville. This would be good for a researcher interested in queer history or travel guides.
  • This gathering of Forty-five Prospectuses for Forthcoming Printed Books and One Periodical, bound with a map and instrument dealers' catalog is a collected boundwidth of 45 advertisements for French publications from various publishers from 1817-1825 with some annotations from prior owners. This researcher would need to have a reading knowledge of French and would be great for someone interested in book history, reading practices, and 19th century advertising methods.
  • Fama, y obras posthumas del fenix de Mexico, dezima musa, poetisa americana, sor Juana Ines de la Cruz: religiosa professa en el Convento de San Geronimo de la imperial ciudad de Mexico, 1714, written by Juana Inés de la Cruz (1651-1695) and edited by Juan Ignacio de Castorena y Ursúa (1668-1733). This book from the Lou Emma Wilson Mexicana collection features the first feminist manifesto written in the new world by scholar, nun, poet, playwright and composer Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. The manifesto in our copy can be found on pp. 114-166. Requires knowledge of Spanish. (Subjects: Spanish, literature, feminism, gender and women’s studies)
  • Franciscan Friar travel manuscript, 1782. The Noticia, la precisa no mas, de mi viaje a San Blas, emprendida por disposicion divina indispensable, aunque segun el parecer del mundo con yerro, y apostasia de la religion is a handwritten notebook written by an apostate Franciscan friar to describe his travels through Mexico to ascertain the state of religious life. The friar gives a first-hand account of the numerous places he visited as he travelled from Puebla to San Blas, ending up in Mexico City. Ability to read Spanish is a must for this collection. (Subjects: Mexico, religion, Spanish, Castillian, travel)
  • Game of the Goose woodblock and print, 1765-1820. The Game of the Goose board game originated in the 15th century and was one of the earliest European printed games. It was quite popular and led to numerous adaptations through the years. To win, one must land on the 63rd space or repeat through the spaces, avoiding the bridge, hotel, well, and prison, among other hazards. Our printed board game contains the gameboard and original gameboard woodblock. (Subjects: play, recreation, printing) 2023ms072
  • The Life and Most Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York Mariner / La Vie et Très Surprenantes Aventures de Robinson Crusoe d’York Marin was printed and translated by Duchesse de Luynes (Guyonne-Élisabeth-Josèphe de Montmorency-Laval) at her estate during the French Revolution in 1797. This would be great for a researcher interested in women's history, private presses, literary translation, or the French Revolution.