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Fenella France: What Makes a Research Archive Special?

Episode Guide: “What Makes a Research Archive Special?”

Holding History Podcast

Season 1: Episode 6

“Globally, we're starting to talk about materials…one of the things we've been thinking about a lot is not just the discoverability, but how we link these archives.”

- Fenella France

Fenella France

This episode features a conversation with Fenella France, Chief of the Preservation Research and Testing Division at the Library of Congress. Fenella works at the forefront of the field of archival preservation. Recently, she’s studied the fibers of the Star-Spangled Banner and worked with objects in the 9/11 Memorial, she’s done spectral imaging on the Declaration of Independence, and she’s investigated the backing paper on the Magna Carta.

Our discussion begins with specifics about these projects and the lab where Fenella operates but moves toward global questions of project approach, archival organization, destructive and/or predictive testing, digital preservation, and, of course, the future.

Listen to the full episode above or on your favorite podcast app, and check out the links below to follow some of the threads from this conversation.

Fenella’s latest work, Assessing the Physical Condition of the National Book Collection. Another project—Inks and Skins—is an interdisciplinary project dedicated to the investigation of the materiality of the late-medieval Gaelic manuscript. In the interview, Fenella mentions the global ICCROM initiative. She also discusses CHARM, the Barrow Collection, and Ptolemy’s Geographia. More acronyms! And check out the amazing work being done through IRENE. Josh also mentions the ERC’s Beasts2Craft project.


A transcript of this episode can be accessed here.

This episode’s Bookish Word—hieroglyph—was created by Nate Heden.

Wherever you find the Holding History Podcast, please like, subscribe, and provide feedback. Use the comment section below, or contact us at with questions or suggestions. Thanks for listening!

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