The Folger Undergraduate Fellowship

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All about the archives!

The Folger Shakespeare Library is one of the world’s premier research libraries. Its founder, Henry Clay Folger, graduated from Amherst in 1879 and bequeathed the Library to Amherst upon his death in 1930. The Amherst–Folger Undergraduate Fellowship program began in 1996 and awards several student fellowships each year. It provides an opportunity for Amherst students to engage the Folger's collection through in-depth archival research. The program takes an expansive view of research and has included projects not only in English and History, but also in Anthropology, Psychology, Art, Music, Black Studies, Digital Humanities, Asian Studies, Political Science, and Statistics.

Past Folger Undergraduate Fellows

Before Farm to Table 2021

Photo of colorful produce kiosk, part of Holyoke Food Collective
Holyoke Food Collective co-founder, Neftalí Durán (Ñuu Savi-Oaxaqueño) spoke with the students about Indigenous Foodways, working towards an equitable food system, and building a network of Indigenous food leaders.

Students Examine Early Modern Foodways with the Folger Shakespeare Library

In January, five Amherst students participated in the "Before Farm to Table" research colloquium during which they investigated and analyzed an 18th-century manuscript recipe book from the Folger Shakespeare Library collection. Working closely with Folger staff members Drs. Heather Wolfe and Amanda Herbert, the students joined a collaborative research team at the Folger to transcribe, edit, and adapt recipes from the book. Hildi Gabel '21 credits the course for making her "think about culinary and ecological history as deeply connected to legacies of people, and the narratives and power structures that still hold up today," and expanding her understanding of how humans have shaped agriculture and their importance to labor systems and food access.

Read the article by Eniola Ajao '21

Folger Undergraduate Fellows 2020 - Before Farm to Table

Force Meatballs Recipe
18th-century recipe for "Forced Meatballs"

We don’t know who Mrs. Knight was, but we know she liked to cook.

Nine Amherst students spent two weeks in January getting to know the life and kitchen of this unknown Englishwoman. They did this by examining her 102-page, 400-recipe manuscript, on loan from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. This handwritten collection of recipes and folk remedies, compiled circa 1740, received the Amherst treatment as the students studied it from every angle, and also cooked from it.

Read the article "Out of the Archives, and Into the Kitchen"

Folger Undergraduate Fellows 2018

2018 Folger Fellows and staff
Folger Fellows from right: Jane Bragdon ’20, Isabella Berkley ’19, Ann Guo ’20 (in back), Phuong-Nghi Pham ’18 (in front), Annika Ariel ’19 (center in front) and Ariella Goldberg ’19 (fourth from left). Photo provided by Phuong-Nghi Pham ’18.

The Fellowship isn’t necessarily about answering the initial question. Rather, it’s learning how to do the research that matters.

Thanks to the wide range of materials available at the Folger, students can conduct research entirely unrelated to Shakespeare, if they wish. Ann Guo ’20 looked at early-17th- through mid-18th-century references to tea and foods as a lens into conceptions of racial and ethnic “others.” Ariella Goldberg ’19 investigated Renaissance cryptography. And Isabella Berkley ’19 researched 17th-century travel writing and its influence on England’s relationship with the Caribbean.

Read the full article in Amherst News

Folger Undergraduate Fellows 2016

Amherst Fellows Catherine Lowdon '17, Kevin Mei '16 and Irisdelia Garcia '18 get a feel for writing like Shakespeare.
Amherst Fellows Catherine Lowdon '17, Kevin Mei '16 and Irisdelia Garcia '18 get a feel for writing like Shakespeare. Photo by Meredith Deeley.

Imagine this: You have free rein to explore any topic of your choosing at the premier research library for the study of Shakespeare. Where do you start?

The Amherst–Folger Fellowship program began in 1996 and now awards as many as six student fellowships each year through funds provided by the Friends of the Amherst College Library. In addition to conducting independent research, the fellows attend sessions led by Folger scholars that cover a broad range of topics related to the library's collections. This year's students delved into media history, archival research methods and material culture, from early modern books, manuscripts and art to the curation of modern editions and digital texts.

Read the full article in Amherst News

Amherst and the Folger Shakespeare Library

An ornate library interior with wood ceilings and large bookcases

An Unlikely Love Affair

Shakespeare was a guy from the wrong side of the pond, but the American people still fell for him—hard. Even more improbable: the extent to which Amherst has been part of the long romance...

Read the full article in Amherst Magazine

Explore the Folger Catalog

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The online catalog of The Folger Shakespeare Library

The Folger Shakespeare Library’s publicly available online catalog contains bibliographic and accession records for many important parts of the collection, including materials published since 1800, rare materials acquired since 1996, manuscript collections and works of art.

Explore the catalog