What is Archival Kismet?

“Archival Kismet” is a research ethos and conference concept developed by Courtney Thompson in 2020. Out of a desire for conferences that celebrate “cool things” in history, especially the offbeat archival finds that don’t always fit into our main research projects, she organized a conference to highlight early works-in-progress, hosted virtually in April 2021.

“Archival Kismet” conferences are infused with an ethos of celebrating both the oddities and emotions of historical research and discoveries. Presenters are expected to share early works-in-progress, rather than polished or previously published work. Questions and emotional responses are privileged over firm conclusions and interventions. The “archive” is broader construed, and historians from every level, training, and corner of the profession (and outside of it) are welcome to participate. Talks are short, with the bulk of time devoted to discussion with participants. Archival Kismet is about building connections between scholars and sources.

Check out the “Manifesto” at Nursing Clio, located here.

“I embrace the principle of being led by the sources, even if—especially if—the sources lead you far afield. This often means more work, since you will have to learn new literatures and contexts with which you might not be familiar or in which you might not have trained. It might make you look scattered—but history is scattered. History does not always have a clear through-line or simple narrative. Why should historians?”

Archival Kismet: A Manifesto

Get in Touch

To get involved, contact Courtney:

cthompson@history.msstate.edu; @Dr_C_Thompson

archival.kismet@gmail.com; @ArchivalKismet