Three Questions is an initiative to share the value that our faculty, students, and others in the UNT community derive from using the Unique Collections at UNT Libraries.
1. How important are Unique Collections in your teaching, learning or research?
I can say without exaggeration that my current research would be impossible without the worlds UNT’s Unique Collections have opened to me, and my teaching would be much poorer. I was not trained as a Texas historian, but last year, after writing three books on the history of civil rights movements outside of Texas, I jumped into Lone Star State history with both feet. The Portal to Texas History and other resources within Unique Collections have enabled me to come up to speed much, much faster than I would have been able to otherwise by opening a treasure trove of other scholars’ research and primary sources that have yet to be exploited.
2. How have Unique Collections changed the way you approach your research, teaching or learning?
I was lucky enough to co-teach a course on the Civil Rights Movement in Texas with my colleague Dr. Andrew Torget in the Spring 2015 semester. We built the entire course around undergraduates’ original research in UNT’s KXAS Collection, the Portal to Texas History, and other materials in UNT Special Collections and other archives. It was the most rewarding experience I have ever had as an educator, and I’m positive that our students consider it the best and most important class they will ever take at UNT.
It would be impossible to design all of my undergraduate courses around original research, but I have managed to use some aspect of Unique Collections—interviews from the UNT Oral History Collection, newspaper articles from the Portal to Texas History, etc.—in some way in nearly every class I have taught in the UNT History Department since 2005. Making primary sources available to students and helping them work through the contradictions and new possibilities they find there gets to the very heart of liberal arts education. I can’t imagine how I would be able to accomplish this—I certainly couldn’t accomplish it on a large scale—without having such easy access to these collections.
3. What do you want others to know about your research?
I’d like to show off the product of my students’ research from the Civil Rights Movement in Texas class, an online museum of the Mansfield Crisis: http://mansfieldcrisis.omeka.net/. I could not be prouder of it!
Todd Moye is a Professor of History at UNT and the Director of the UNT Oral History Program.