By Brittnee Worthy, Special Collections & Archives intern, summer 2016

Special Collections and Archives recently welcomed researcher Matthew Carr, a graduate student studying political science at Columbia University. Carr is a recipient of a Provost’s Grant for Library Research for the 2015/16 academic year.  His research is centered around collecting democrat and republican platforms dating back as far as he can reach. While these platforms, which state the objective policies of the parties, are typically well preserved and and issued every 2 years, many have been lost. These lost documents are the central focus of Carr’s research. In uncovering these documents, Carr is able to detect trends and how they develop over time. Throughout his year of research, Carr has recognized how both parties have become increasingly homogeneous and unified in their overall vision, which was lacking in the past. Analyzing these political trends also illustrates the emergence of particular issues. Some recent examples include abortion, gay rights, and gun rights. By using these platforms to trace the evolution of these issues researchers like Carr are able to analyze political development.

NC republican platform 1872
1872 NC State Republican Platform from a pamphlet in ZSR Special Collections & Archives

According to Carr, his research was “spirited by a professor” as well as his interest in political history and development. His goal for this project is to find information for all fifty states, which is what ultimately led to his visit to Wake Forest. The ZSR Special Collections and Archives has a large collection of not only North Carolina platforms, but also Oklahoma political records. These multi-state collections are key to Carr’s research as they allow a larger span of information despite the inability to travel to all fifty states. Special Collections are also particularly helpful for finding leads to information that may be elsewhere or different from what one may expect.

Following his research here at the ZSR Special Collections and Archives, Carr will be completing his judicial politics dissertation at Columbia and continuing to uncover political history.