Skip to Main Content

HON 101: Exploring Special Collections

This online exercise showcases archival collections from the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center. It is designed for use in HON 101 courses, as a virtual introduction to primary source research and archival materials.

What are special collections?


University of Kentucky – kelseybibliophile


Welcome to the world of archival research! Special collections libraries are a special type of library, usually called an archive(s). The Special Collections Research Center at the University of Kentucky is your local gateway to engaging research and scholarship by investigating the past and interrogating the present. The Special Collections Research Center sustains the Commonwealth's memory and serves as the essential bridge between past, present and future. By preserving materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of Kentucky, the SCRC provides rich opportunities for students to expand their worldview and enhance their critical thinking skills. SCRC materials are used by scholars worldwide to advance original research and pioneer creative approaches to scholarship. 

Activity Information

This activity is designed for students taking HON 101: Knowledge and Society. The course structure for HON 101 encourages students to explore identity, knowledge construction, and silenced voices throughout history and in the present day. This activity is designed to guide advanced, early career undergraduate students through an exploration of primary source materials that represent a wide variety of identity groups from Kentucky's history. Each group of documents corresponds to one of these groups, often encompassing a wide range of time, locations, and people. This is an opportunity for one class to work with and discuss a large number of primary source documents representing different movements, causes, and identities. The discussion following the exercise provides the opportunity for the instructor to use the documents and student responses to lead a conversation about how identity is constructed or hidden, and how archives are an important tool in uncovering and understanding this process.

There are six main topics represented in this activity, and they correspond to important movements, people, and events in Kentucky's history. These include:

  • Public Health and Medicine
  • Food Insecurity and Poverty
  • Desegregation in Kentucky
  • History of Slavery and the Civil Rights Movement
  • Women's Suffrage
  • LGBTQIA+ Issues 


Activity Instructions

First, break into the groups that your instructor has decided before starting on the exercise. Either in the classroom or in a breakout room on Zoom, navigate to your assigned topic using the tabs at the top of the page. Each page will explain the topic and items you are examining as a group, and provide you with a list of questions to complete during the activity. have a list of digital resources for you to explore based on the topic from Kentucky history. If your class is a 50 minute session, you will have about 25 minutes to look at the resources and answer the questions, and during the last 5-10 minutes you will come together as a class to discuss your findings. If your class session is 75 minutes, you will have the opportunity to look at two different topics for 20 minutes each, before coming together to share your findings.