15 Wilson Center’s 2021-2022 CWAR Fellows at Blinken OSA

CWAR Fellows at Blinken OSA

Overseas B.A., M.A and Ph.D. students in history, international relations, government, sociology, public policy, area, and regional studies awarded the Cold War Archives Research (CWAR) Institute Fellowships by the Wilson Center conduct on-site research at the archives and present their research and findings at the Cold War-themed conference at Corvinus University, Budapest.

Since 2016, Blinken OSA hosts students for a special research visit each year that was interrupted by the Covid-19 Pandemic last year. Academic tutor and professor Victoria Phillips has long been in touch with archival professionals at Blinken OSA and this year our cooperation could resume after a brief pause.

Between May 23, 2022, and May 27, 2022, a group of 15 Cold War Archives Research fellows from the Wilson Center, the official memorial to President Woodrow Wilson, and a policy forum for tackling global issues through research and dialogue based in Washington DC, conducted research at OSA that was followed by their participation at the 12th Annual International Student Conference of the Cold War History Research Center at Corvinus University in Budapest. The conference covered topics such as Hungary in the Cold War; East-Central Europe in the Cold War and its Aftermath; The Soviet Union and the United States in the Cold War, etc.

During their research week at the archives, the CWAR fellows could use the CEU Library as a temporary research venue due to our recent but temporary move to the CEU campus. Each research day ended with wrap-up sessions where the students could discuss findings, raise issues and share experiences about their work.

Colleagues at the archives, both archivists and researchers (Robert Parnica, Judit Hegedűs, Ioana Macrea-Toma, and Anastasia Felcher) also took a very active part in these sessions and the fellows’ work, they advised and guided the fellows regarding their findings and helped them navigate through archival searches by highlighting the content of the collections the fellows could use. Fellows could make immediate use of the vast collection at Blinken OSA on the Cold War, including holdings of archival fonds HU OSA 205 Records of the Open Media Research Institute, HU OSA 298 Records of the Free Europe Committee, HU OSA 300 Records of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Research Institute, HU OSA 301 Records of Index on Censorship, and HU OSA 318 Records of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights.

The high point of the series of wrap-up sessions took place on Friday, May 27, 2022, where a summary of all research activities was presented briefly by all participating fellows during the course of a group discussion. The general issue addressed based on their research week at OSA was the importance of on-site research, which proved to be very productive and elevating experience after a long period of isolation due to Covid-19. At the same time, the fellows discussed the importance of the digitization of analog materials and online research. The fellows presented their research findings and reflected on their experience during their one-week on-site stay.  

During the session, one fellow remarked that “to be in the city, feeling alive and meeting people” was their experience as “archives is [usually] loneliness land”. For another fellow, this week was “filling the gaps” in research work with new findings at Blinken OSA. For others, „[through] in person archival work one is able to make more profound work” as contrary to using only digital sources where “you are scrolling and the thought process is a linear matter”. Others praised the accessibility of documents, describing the Blinken OSA catalog as a “well-established catalog online”. The physical experience was also thrilling for the fellows: as one said, ”to grasp the color of the paper” gives more to the imagination. It was also stated that “navigating online and in-person” enables a person “to see different things from a different perspective”. It was also concluded by one fellow that online research was also a dissertation saver during the pandemic.

The following week, between May 31 and June 1, 2022, the CWAR fellows presented their ongoing research, enriched with the Blinken OSA holdings, at the 12th Annual International Student Conference of the Cold War History Research Center at Corvinus University. The fellows spoke about the nuclear history and intelligence, cultural aspects of the Cold War, alliances and international organizations during the Cold War, the United States, Western Asia and the Caucasus in the Cold War, Russia in the post-Cold War era, and on legacies of the Cold War.

The Cold War History Research Center at Corvinus University, along with the Blinken OSA, is one of the partner institutions at the CWAR Institute Fellowship Program at Wilson Center.