Pembroke Center

Archives Proctorships and Training Opportunities

When possible, the Pembroke Center offers students professional training opportunities in archival curation and development through proctorships with the Pembroke Center Archives.

Occasionally, the Pembroke Center is able to host student proctors at the Pembroke Center Archives via partnerships with the Brown Graduate School or through special arrangements. Curatorial proctorships offer students with expertise in gender and sexuality studies the opportunity to cross-train into professional curatorial work.

Proctors work closely with Mary Murphy, the Nancy L. Buc '65 LLD'94 hon Pembroke Center Archivist, and Ann duCille, Professor of English, Emerita at Wesleyan University and Visiting Scholar in Gender Studies at the Pembroke Center. This apprenticeship model provides unique, hands-on experiences, enabling students to develop their curatorial skills and understanding of archival management. Often, students work with collections and scholars whose research informs their own academic work and scholarship. 

Most recently, Africana Studies graduate students Melaine Ferdinand-King and N'Kosi Oates served as graduate curatorial proctors in summer 2021. Focusing in particular on the Black Feminist Theory Project, King and Oates met weekly with Ann duCille and Mary Murphy; conducted research to identify potential donors of papers for the Black Feminist Theory Collections; prepared and presented curatorial “pitches;” corresponded with notable Black feminist scholars and solicited their participation in the project; and participated in and led curatorial meetings with interested potential donors. Each also traveled with archives staff to survey and pick up collections. 

Oates continued to work with the Archives as a graduate curatorial assistant the following academic year.

Mary Murphy and Professor Ann duCille developed a remarkable, immersive experience. Teaching is a central focus of the Pembroke Center, and both Mary and Ann were intentional that the proctorship offered a chance for us to learn the curatorial process. My graduate proctor colleague and I corresponded via email with prospective donors, attended team meetings, and assisted with a survey visit. We had an opportunity to see what it means to be a curator/archivist.

N'Kosi Oates Ph.D. '22 and graduate curatorial proctor
N'Kosi Oates

I was interested in working with the archives on the Black Feminist Theory Project because I wanted to apply my knowledge of Black feminist theory and history to embodied practices like archiving and curation. As a student of the Black radical and feminist traditions, I've treasured the opportunity to engage with work by women who've inspired and guided my own Black feminist journey and take part in the preservation of their legacies. It was important to me that our team address the question of ethics in archiving the work of Black women theorists at the start of the proctorship, and I planted my participation within an understanding of Black feminist ethics. From the beginning, I took up Audre Lorde's challenge to “seek the roots” of our foremothers and set intentions to approach this work with love and attention to the many documented histories/stories entrusted to us.

Melaine Ferdinand-King PhD candidate in the Department of Africana Studies and graduate curatorial proctor
Melaine Ferdinand-King