Robin Katz and Julie Golia, recipients of the James Harvey Robinson Prize
January 6, 2017

UCR Library is proud to congratulate our Outreach & Public Services Librarian, Robin M. Katz for receiving the James Harvey Robinson Prize from the American Historical Association.

The James Harvey Robinson Prize is awarded to the creators of a teaching aid that has made the most outstanding contribution to the teaching and learning of history for public or educational purposes. Robin and Julie Golia, her project partner at Brooklyn Historical Society, were recognized for the excellence of their work on The award ceremony was held in Colorado at the Sheraton Downtown Denver on January 4, 2017 during the AHA Annual Convention.

Robin and Julie received a three-year grant for the US Department of Education through the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE), which was intended to spur the development of innovations that improve educational outcomes and develop an evidence base of effective practices. “We wanted it to be about more than just our primary grant audience,” Robin stated. “We wanted to help educators to get their pedagogical practices up-to-date.”

They used the grant to support a program called Students & Faculty in the Archives (SAFA). "One of the great things about the project that gave birth to TeachArchives was that Robin was an archivist and I was an historian, so we brought very different perspectives to the work," said Julie. Over a period of three years, SAFA worked in partnership with three colleges that were in walking distance from the Brooklyn Historical Society, each of which did not have special collections in their own libraries.

Robin and Julie’s goal with SAFA was to bring students in to use the archives for hands-on learning. “Anyone can come use special collections,” Robin said. “We wanted the students to have a more meaningful use of the archives, more active and hands-on learning, where they could apply themselves to a problem using the collection.” From 2011 to 2013, they collaborated with over 1,100 students, 18 partner faculty, and 65 courses over four semesters on three different campuses.

They measured and assessed the impact of their program and found that the students who came to use the archives were more engaged, had better academic performance, better retention, and higher rates of course completion than their peers. The overall findings of the program determined that learning in archives can positively affect students.

“We were really passionate about getting more and more students in, and we were in a spot where we really got to focus on it, so that was a nice luxury,” Robin explained. “Our intention was to share universal lessons with a wider global audience and engage and empower educators from elementary school to graduate school with practical how-to articles, case studies, and sample exercises with agendas, lesson plans, and handouts, as well as documentation for the grant project.”

According to Robin, the grant called for dissemination to share what they had learned, so she and Julie gave countless conference presentations and published several articles to share their findings. They also advocated to create the website to make the information available online for free to a global audience.

"At the AHA awards ceremony, I had the opportunity to speak to a few of the people who did the peer review process for the award," explained Julie. "It was terrific to learn that the processes, the articles, and the other tools that we created on the website are being used at all different levels of education, from primary schools to colleges. That it is exactly what we intended it to be. It wasn’t just the design how we saw it in our heads, but it was great to see that was how it was playing out across the country. That was incredibly gratifying.”

Now that Robin is at UC Riverside, she hopes to expand on her work with TeachArchives through the instruction project that she is helping to build by bringing this new method of primary source instruction to Special Collections & University Archives.