Short Story

Meridith Beck Mink has dedicated her career to cultural heritage and history. She is an experienced researcher and writer, and holds a Ph.D. in history of science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

During her 10+ years in academia, Meridith has engaged in diverse research and teaching projects related to the humanities and cultural heritage, including a postdoctoral position researching Issac Newton’s alchemy and humanities data curation, working at a rare books library, teaching at a small liberal arts college, and conducting archaeological fieldwork in South America and Canada. Her consulting work has included work for major museums, libraries, and universities.

Recently she was the lead researcher for the Council on Library and Information Resources' assessment of the National Digital Stewardship Residency programs (2015-18). She was responsible for implementing the project, including conducting all interviews and site visits, and authoring the final report. Prior to that she worked at Knox College and held a postdoctoral fellowship at Indiana University.

Recent Consulting Work

NDSR Art, Assessment of the 2017-2018 Program Year, November 1 2018.

Keepers of Our Digital Future Supplemental Assessment, October 2018.

Keepers of Our Digital Future, December 2016.

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Longer Story

I grew up in Vancouver B.C., where I attended Simon Fraser University, receiving a B.A. in archeology and an M.A. in history. As an undergrad, I was fortunate to get hands-on training in paleoethnobotany (ancient plant remains) in both the field and lab. I collected plant samples in highland Ecuador and on the shores on Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. After graduating, I worked in Cultural Resource Management before graduate school.

 My home for a summer. Near Taraco, Bolivia.

My home for a summer. Near Taraco, Bolivia.

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Dissertation Synopsis

In August of 1632, from “the midst of a forest more than 800 leagues in expanse,” a Jesuit priest wrote a letter to his brethren in France recounting his treacherous journey by sea to North America. His letter would become the first installment of a forty-one volume book series, published in Paris between 1632 and 1673, that provided the French reading public with entertaining and enlightening accounts of the Jesuits' spiritual and civilizing mission in New France. Collectively known as the Jesuit Relations, these texts are now widely considered to be one of the most important historical sources for the study of the indigenous peoples of North America.

My dissertation presents a biography of the Relations, in which I chart how these religious texts came to be understood as ethnographic documents and gained scientific authority in the modern social sciences and humanities.

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Postdoctoral Work

During 2014-15, I was a postdoctoral fellow at Indiana University in Bloomington. My official title was “Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation for Early Modern Studies,” which points to the dual nature of the position: I did traditional historical research associated with the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science, and helped tackle issues related to humanities data at IU Libraries. I contributed to the Chysmistry of Isaac Newton project and consulted on digital scholarship in the Herman B. Wells Library’s Scholars Commons.