Biographical and Documentary Research (SIG #13)
SIG Purpose

The purpose of the SIG is to provide a forum for the exchange of  information among individuals interested in biographical, documentary, and archival research with explicit attention towards methodology.

Message from SIG Chair

At the April 10, 2016 meeting in Washington, DC, I will step down as chair of the Biographical and Documentary Research SIG, a role I have held on two occasions separated by many years. I remember conducting our SIG organizational meeting at the 1990 AERA Conference in Chicago. Only two others attended (historian Michael Knoll and curriculum studies scholar Wells Foshay); however, after obtaining the required number of necessary signatures, the SIG was approved by AERA Central, and we held our first meeting at the 1991 conference. During the past 25 years, we have hosted many wonderful sessions with presentations by Studs Terkel, Louise DeSalvo, Maxine Greene, Philip Jackson, Harry Wolcott, Yvonna Lincoln, as well as by many of our own SIG members. I appreciate the efforts of so many who through the years have served as chairs and other administrative roles: Kate Cruickshank, Philo Hutcheson, Cheryl Desmond, Bob Schwartz, Alan Wieder, Mary Bull, Brian Schultz, Della Leavitt, Jim Finkelstein, KaaVonia Hinton, and Pam Konkol. I am also so grateful for the many members who have joined and who are, in turn, accepting various leadership roles—notably, Lu Bailey, Thalia Mulvihill, and Deron Boyles. While I suspect our SIG must always worry about whether we can meet AERA’s membership requirements, this recent surge of volunteerism is quite heartening.

Much attention has been devoted to exploring the area of biographical inquiry; however, documentary research has not received as much attention throughout the past years. Perhaps that is why I am so pleased that our 2016 keynote symposium addresses documentary issues in education and gives us the opportunity to meet Gary McCulloch whose publication, Documentary Research in Education, History and the Social Sciences, has been so important to SIG members as we seek to understand this form of inquiry.

I look forward to the upcoming years as SIG members continue to define and redefine the area of biographical and documentary research. Thank you for keeping the SIG alive and for allowing me to be part of a wonderful research community.


 Craig Kridel, Curator, Museum of Education, University of South Carolina

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