The public service staff of Special Collections and Archives work closely with researchers daily. As a new feature of this blog, we will be sharing stories about research in Special Collections and Archives that yielded successful outcomes. We hope to further expose the wide variety of research that our collections support and to encourage others to ask us for assistance. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 949-824-3947.
SUCCESS STORY 5
WHO: Rex W. Douglass, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Politics, Princeton University
THE CHALLENGE: Mr. Douglass describes his research topic in this way: “With the dominant form of political violence on the planet becoming civil wars, particularly irregular civil wars, it is important to understand how government offers of amnesty and rewards to rebel defectors might promote conflict resolution.” He was interested in the United States/Republic of Vietnam defector program during the Vietnam War. In particular he was interested in the “Joseph M. Carrier collection on the Chieu Hoi Program and Vietnamese Conflict, 1958-1992” (MS-SEA001).
ASSISTANCE PROVIDED: When Mr. Douglass inquired about the collection, we sent him the location of the full finding aid, pointing out areas where there might be relevant materials for his research. We also sent him to our “Visitor Information” guide, which includes information about local airports, transportation, housing options, and local interest information. We pulled material of relevance to Mr. Douglass and had that material ready for him upon arrival. His research interests were broader than we anticipated, and he determined that he wanted to look at the full collection of 67 boxes. We arranged for him to spend additional hours in the Reading Room to
complete this task. His work with the collection revealed invaluable materials for his research. We offered to facilitate a meeting with Joseph Carrier, who lives in the area.
POSITIVE RESOLUTION: Rex Douglass told us that he had visited numerous archives in his research, and that our assistance had been unique in comparison to others he had received. When he completed his research here, he wrote to us to share the following:
“I am writing in regards to a recent trip to the UCI Special Collections and Archives. In the course of my research, I was expertly assisted by Stephen MacLeod, Andrew Jones, Michelle Light, and Christina Woo. They went above and beyond the call of duty. Selected examples include: helpful advice and research in communications prior to my visit, having materials pulled and ready at my arrival, a thorough introduction to the SEA collection, making extra research time available for my brief trip, and actually arranging for me to interview the creator of the collection I used. I greatly appreciated the assistance and having been made to feel at home at UCI. Mr. Carrier performed extensive research on the United States/Republic of Vietnam defector program during the Vietnam War. His files are a unique window into the background of that program, what led some of civilians and Viet Cong fighters to make the often dangerous decision to switch to the government side, and what it was like to be a social scientist working in wartime environment when the field was still in its infancy.”
MORAL: Public Services staff in Special Collections and Archives make a strong effort to understand the researcher’s needs at the beginning of the research process and throughout the research process. The work we did with Rex Douglas is a good example of how this philosophy can support positive results.