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Doctoral Student Creates Workshops Amidst Pandemic


When Tam Institute for Jewish Studies Fellow and History doctoral candidate Anastasiia Strakhova was chosen to be the Anne and Bill Newton Graduate Fellow at the Rose Library, she initially planned to study the library’s Jewish Studies collections. She would have met with visiting archivist Tierra Thomas to discuss the current work being done to arrange and describe collections on Southern Jewish life, and she planned to develop a teaching resource and outreach plan for promoting faculty and student engagement with these collections. Finally, she hoped to share her work with the wider community in periodic blog posts.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Strakhova was not able to visit campus to access the library. Instead, she worked remotely with the Archives Research Program and helped prepare two workshops for graduate students—one on grant-writing and another specifically on conducting archival research during the pandemic. Strakhova said of the grant-writing boot camp: “It was a great pleasure to participate in this project because I benefited from this program when I was in the fourth year of my Ph.D. program, so I was very happy that I could share my experience with other students.”

This grant-writing boot camp, which began in January 2021, was unique from other years because it featured both an overview of the grant-writing process and a practical component that allowed students to craft and revise their own proposals. Furthermore, while other grant-writing workshops train students to compete for general grants like the Fulbright, this program was designed to help students apply for grants that are m focused on specific topic areas and research collections. “During this part, I was also able to share my advice as a graduate student and a former applicant to these kinds of grants,” Strakhova says.

Boot camp presenters included some of Emory’s own librarians—Erica Bruchko and Chella Vaidyanathan—as well as many experts from other institutions. Sara Logue (Assistant University Librarian for Special Collections Public Services, Princeton University) shared her advice as a grant reviewer. Katalin Gádoros (Head of Administration, Open Society Archive at Central European University) gave the students a glimpse into the international grant application process. For the new practical component, held in March, boot camp participants were able to actively workshop their grant applications and proposals with each other.

For the second part of her fellowship, Strakhova helped organize a boot camp on performing archival research during the pandemic. She began by analyzing graduate students’ surveys on their experiences, with questions such as “What can we do for students who cannot travel?” Their responses aided in crafting an agenda for the workshop, in which participants learned how to create a pandemic-specific archives research plan. Additionally, students were taught how to understand the basics of archival arrangement and description as well as practical tips for contacting repositories and finding creative ways to access material housed in archives, given the research constraints of 2021.

Both projects led to the creation of permanent guides housed on Emory Libraries’ website, one for grant writing and one for archival research.  

Strakhova is now spending her summer working on her dissertation, for which she won a highly competitive Summer Dissertation Writing Grant from the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES). Her dissertation, titled “Selective Emigration: Border Control and the Jewish Escape in Late Imperial Russia, 1881-1914,” examines how the racialization of Jewish subjects in late imperial Russia functioned through migration policies and everyday border-crossing practices. “By combining a study of bureaucratic correspondence and institutional archival records with the Jewish press and emigres’ personal papers in Yiddish, Hebrew, and Russian, I analyze how thousands of Russian subjects were leaving the empire in 1881-1914 when the imperial legislation forbade emigration, and the role Jews played in this process,” she says. She is advised by TIJS faculty members Drs. Eric Goldstein and Ellie R. Schainker.