New Digital Collection Focused on International Scholarship Program

Foreign students and visitors brushing up on their English at the American University Language Center, MC 468, Box 342, Folder 10
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Foreign students and visitors brushing up on their English at the American University Language Center, MC 468, Box 342, Folder 10

A new digital collection, funded in part by the U of A's Chancellor's Innovation Fund, is now available to researchers worldwide. Drawing on materials from two archival collections in the University Libraries Special Collections Division, the Fulbright Program History Digital Collection provides information about the establishment of the Fulbright Program and the work of its early commissions. 

The Fulbright Program, which celebrated its 75th anniversary earlier this month, provides grants to individuals for international research, study or teaching English as a second language. 

Materials in the digital collection were drawn from two archival collections: the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Historical Collection (MC 468) and the J. William Fulbright Papers (MS/F956/144). The digital collection comprises photographs, binational commission agreements and reports from Fulbright programs located in countries around the world.  

The first phase of digitization includes 3,000 individual scans. When the project is completed, it will include roughly 10,000 pages of materials. These materials are some of Special Collections' most regularly requested items, especially by international researchers. Making these documents available online will increase access to researchers who would have previously had to travel internationally to conduct research. 

"I am currently working on a synthetic history of the Fulbright Program and have been fortunate to have had a number of opportunities in recent years to work with the J. William Fulbright Papers and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affair Historical Collection at the University of Arkansas Libraries Special Collections," said Lonnie Johnson, who served as ​​executive director of the Austrian Fulbright Commission from 1997 until his retirement in 2019. "It is a gold mine for students and scholars of public diplomacy as well as international education and international relations after World War II."  

Libraries personnel who served on the project team include Martha A. Anderson, Lori Birrell, Kara Flynn, Rachel Herbaugh, Deborah E. Kulczak, Julie Thacker and Alyssa Willis. Images were digitized and processed by Digital Services personnel, including Neva Bartelt, Dexter Fairweather, Ross Kerr, Zachary King, Shelby Osbourn, Christina Rhoades, Dharma Shepard and Fred Shumbusho. Dylan Hurd, web developer, created the digital collection's landing page.

"Digital Services and I were honored to participate on this digital project which highlights one of the most recognizable international student exchange programs," Anderson said. "At the personal level, it was particularly interesting to design a collection that will more accurately represent the way researchers conduct their studies in person while accessing the Special Collections Division finding aids. Maintaining the original arrangement and description order of the collection proved both challenging and invigorating when implementing a new digital collection's design."


Lori Birrell, associate dean for Special Collections
University Libraries

Kelsey Lovewell Lippard, director of public relations
University Libraries


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