This summer the inaugural Pforzheimer Fellows are delving into projects across Harvard’s libraries, bringing a fresh perspective and learning about career opportunities.
The fellowships are named in recognition of Carl H. Pforzheimer III’s generous gift to the library.
James McSpadden, a history PhD candidate, is working with the uncatalogued papers of Henrich Brüning, chancellor of Germany, held by the Harvard University Archives. The experience has given him a new appreciation for the work and knowledge of library staff, saying, “I’ve been surprised at how much work happens behind the scenes! I’ve found it very interesting—I can ask staff [any] question, [even] about handwriting when it’s difficult to read. Researchers only see the reference archivists, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.”
While the fellowships are a professional opportunity, the immersive learning experience has been provided valuable insight for his academic career as well. “My dissertation touches on Brüning and the political world he inhabited,” James explained, “but after looking in every folder and opening every envelope in several unprocessed accessions, I have a much better picture of Brüning as a person.”