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U-M HistoryLabs


HistoryLabs mobilize the power of history for real-world impacts that contribute to the common good. Reimagining the humanities, HistoryLabs bring together faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates as investigators and lab members in long-term research projects that involve both curricular and extracurricular components. Projects are often developed in collaboration with community partners. HistoryLab students become coauthors of digital humanities and multimedia projects aimed at diverse public and academic audiences, gaining valuable career-related experiences in research, digital technology, and collaborative skills. Current HistoryLabs include:

Collaborative Research with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Veidlinger
Related Course: History 716: Collaborative Research in the Holocaust

Description: Students in this HistoryLab research seminar will work with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to develop digital analytical materials based on the museum's archives for its online educational programming. Students will develop research, critical analysis, and writing skills working in a collaborative, team-based approach to historical research methods and practices. Students will be responsible not only for curating materials, but also for writing analytical essays and presenting their products to the museum’s stakeholders. The class will also travel to Washington, DC, to utilizethe museum’s collections and to present to theirstakeholders.

Policing and Social Justice Lab

Principal Investigator: Matthew Lassiter
Related Courses: History 366: Crime and Drugs in Modern America; History 393: Cold Cases: Police Violence, Crime, and Racial Justice in Michigan

Description: This HistoryLab addresses contemporary debates over mass incarceration and police misconduct by taking teams of undergraduate researchers to Detroit to excavate unsolved and/or unprosecuted episodes of racial violence since the 1950s. Using archival collections and digitized databases, students will produce online investigative exhibits. Ultimately the Policing and Social Justice Lab will create a comprehensive database of thousands of police killings in the city of Detroit, and ideally in other parts of Michigan, modeled on the methods of the Chicago Torture Archive, a digital repository based at the University of Chicago that chronicles decades of illegal police conduct.

Immigration Justice Lab

Principal Investigator: Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof
Related Courses: History 335: Immigration Law; History 477: Asylum and Refugee Law

Descrition: In partnership with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, students apply their research skills in collaborative teams, working on actual (anonymized) cases of unaccompanied childhood arrivals. Each asylum petition for these clients needs a “country conditions file,” which provides historical and social context for the particular testimony regarding their experiences of violence and persecution. Lawyers representing asylum cases have little time to do the necessary research and produce well-supported files. This lab's goal is a dedicated, open access digital repository that will be accessible to attorneys defending asylum seekers anywhere in the United States. This will involve building the digital architecture and learning to collect, summarize, and code resources. A beta version of the digital repository was tested in fall 2018.