MA Students Reflect on Summer Research Abroad

Justin Dalrymple:  This summer I had the privilege of spending nine weeks in Ibri, Oman, because of a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship, and another two weeks in Amman, Jordan, thanks to a Piepho Grant from the History Department.

In Oman, I undertook an intensive summer Arabic program at Noor Majan Training Institute. The quality of instruction was very high. The program also provided organized opportunities to travel around Oman and to experience its incredible landscape and to meet its people. From Wadi Shab’s cave of waterfalls, the Green Sea Turtle reserve at Ras al-Jinz, the mountainous valleys of Jebel Akhdar, and the hidden beaches of Salalah, Oman is as rich in environmental beauty as its people are kind, generous, and hospitable.

My studies in Oman prepared me for archival research at Jordan National Library and the University of Jordan for my master’s thesis on state formation and development in Transjordan.

Justin Dalrymple in Oman Justin Dalrymple in Oman
Justin Dalrymple in Jordan Justin Dalrymple in Oman


Xiao Sun:  This past summer I visited archives in two cities in China: Beijing and Shanghai. I conducted the main portion of my research at the First Historical Archives of China (FHAC) for Ming and Qing archives in Beijing, as my MA thesis will be examining China-U.S. relations during the Boxer Rebellion in the late Qing Dynasty. Even though a number of compilations of historical sources on the Boxer Rebellion have been published throughout the past decades, I still managed to find materials valuable to my research and only accessible at the FHAC. All accessible sources at the FHAC are digitized. While the digital system makes it very easy to search and electronically duplicate the sources, I also wish that I had the opportunity of seeing some of the original sources in real life.

In Shanghai, I visited the Shanghai Municipal Archives (SMA). The SMA is located right off the Huangpu River. Looking at the cluster of skyscrapers in Lujiazui from the research room while reading historical sources on the city’s devastations during the World War II, the scenery of the metropolitan Shanghai sometimes became quite surreal.

Shanghai Skyline Custom House
Soviet Banner Shanghai Skyline


Zaara Wakeel:  In the summer of 2017, I travelled to Mumbai to do archival research at the Maharashtra State Archives. The trip was made possible by the Travel Grant I received from the Department of History. It was a wonderful learning experience in terms of understanding archival functioning and research outside of the United States. The trip proved to be fruitful for my research as it gave me the opportunity to access important colonial archives of Indian Ocean networks in the region. I was in Mumbai for three weeks. During this time, I met several scholars working with the archives in Mumbai and we shared our experience and work with one another. New friendships and academic networks enriched my trip. This was also the first occasion I travelled to Mumbai and explored the city’s rich history and culture. The Maharashtra State Archives is located in the Fort area of Mumbai which houses several historical buildings and museums. It was a testimony to the importance of Mumbai in the Indian Ocean networks of 18th and 19th century. 

Maharashtra State Archives in Mumbai