Noah Martin ’18 digs into the past in French archival research
The fall semester of the 2016-17 academic year at Centre College may be approaching its halfway mark, but the work Centre students did over the summer is still garnering recognition—and some of them are applying what they learned then to their coursework now.
For Noah Martin ’18, the research he completed this summer at the Archives Nationales d’Outre-Mer, in Aix-en-Provence, France, will have a lasting impact.
“I assisted Dr. Jon Krause, of Oxford, with his research on uprisings in the French empire during World War I,” Martin explains. “Professor Krause will utilize the primary-source materials that we’ve compiled to author a book on the subject.”
Martin, a Brown Fellow at Centre, relished that this research gave him the chance to “pore over primary documents from a hundred years ago, like some sort of historical detective,” he says. He also came to learn a lot about France by living with a host family, who he says provided him a “cultural experience of inviting warmth, good food and local color.”
Martin and Krause’s collaboration began thanks in part to some assistance from a Centre professor.
“Dr. Krause is a former student of Dr. Amos Tubb [Gordon B. Davidson Associate Professor of History at Centre],” Martin says. “He was most certainly a Centre connection, thanks to Dr. Tubb.”
While his research focused on the past, Martin was able to apply what he was learning to the present day.
“What’s most fascinating about this research is its contemporary relevance,” he says. “A large portion of the sources with which we’ve dealt are documents detailing French surveillance of people—groups that still experience intense scrutiny today, a hundred years later.
“It raises some rather provocative questions about how society continues to relate race, ethnicity and religious identity to the concept of nationality—especially when powerful individuals claim that they are ‘at odds’ or ‘incompatible,’” Martin continues.
Working with Krause opened doors for Martin and allowed him to communicate with expert historians worldwide.
“Professor Krause is an engaging and passionate historian who helped me, at the archives, come into contact with researchers from across the globe—everywhere from St. Frances Xavier University in Canada to the Universities of Leeds and St. Andrews in the U.K.,” Martin says.
But it wasn’t all formal research, as Martin took advantage of his beautiful surroundings for enrichment.
“I had the wonderful opportunity to travel around within Provence to broaden the range of my ‘historical encounters,’” he says.
Much of what Martin enjoyed most about his research experience were the unique opportunities it afforded and the people it allowed him to meet.
“I’ve enjoyed the listening—getting to be in the company of scholars and absorb the back-and-forth between Professor Krause and his fellow historians,” he says.
Now that he’s back at Centre, Martin is putting what he learned over the summer to work for his courses—and likely beyond college.
“Since I am a history major at Centre, a lot of my coursework demands hours of sifting through bookshelves and databases to find compelling evidence,” he says. “My professors have equipped me with the skills and mental fortitude necessary to be effective in research.”
by Elizabeth Trollinger
October 7, 2016