Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies

Summer Institute on Conducting Archival Research

The Summer Institute on Conducting Archival Research (SICAR) is a four-day seminar in which Ph.D. students receive training in conducting archival research. Although archival research is an integral part of many academic disciplines, it is virtually never taught at the graduate level. In an effort to address this deficiency, the George Washington University began the Summer Institute in 2003. SICAR welcomes Ph.D. students from the US and abroad working on international relations and modern history. In 2014, the Summer Institute continued to welcome participants from various disciplines including history, government and politics, international relations, sociology, anthropology, and public policy, as well as area and regional studies. Preference will be given to students who have defended their dissertation proposal and who are about to embark on archival research.

The 2014 workshop will be held from May 19-22 (students will need to arrive by May 18). The deadline for applications is January 15, 2014. Applications should include the application form, as well as a two-page proposal indicating how the workshop is important for your dissertation research, one letter of recommendation (sent directly by the recommender), and a curriculum vitae. Please send applications via e-mail to with the subject line reading "SICAR application." GW will cover the cost of student accomodations in Washington and will generally help cover the cost of transportation. For further information, please contact

Application form

The Summer Institute is directed by the faculty of the GW Cold War Group and researchers at both the National Security Archive and the Cold War International History Project. It is part of the Program on Conducting Archival Research (POCAR). SICAR and POCAR are generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Testimonials from previous participants

"Aside from all of the incredible insight into conducting fieldwork, whether it is archival or even interview based, SICAR provides a truly one-of a kind opportunity to network with leading scholars and experts in the broad and very interdisciplinary field of archival research. The contacts and scholar exchange alone made this seminar truly exceptional… In our training as academics (particularly my field of political science, there is a glaring omission — how does one actually go about the business of doing dissertation research. SICAR contributes greatly to the fulfillment of this gap."
Michele Leiby, Ph.D. candidate in political science, University of New Mexico

"The program was outstanding. It increased my awareness of the archival opportunities for students working in international history, and gave me the chance to network with historians and scholars working in related fields."
Charles Sharpe, Ph.D. candidate in history, University of Pennsylvania

"At SICAR, we learned everything from how to prepare, plan and strategize archival research to filing for the release of classified documents under the Freedom of Information Act… But most importantly, the director of the program, Dr. Hope Harrison, served as a mentor to all of us, often asking speakers questions that we needed to answer but didn't know how to ask. She also spent time with each participant during breaks and meal times, made personal introductions to speakers relevant to our fields, and offered her own research experiences and advice… In short, SICAR's lessons will enhance my anthropological research on torture, memory and transitional justice in Argentina. SICAR is extremely well organized and provided a rich learning experience. Every participant I spoke with felt the same way about the program — we all were surprised by how much it exceeded our expectations. (Who knew that archival research could be so exciting and stimulating?!)"
Rebekah Park, Ph.D. candidate in anthropology, UCLA

Agendas from previous SICAR seminars

SICAR 2013
SICAR 2012

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