CLIR/DLF Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation for African American Studies

at Rice University (view profile)
Location Houston, Texas
Date Posted November 14, 2019
Category Academic
Job Type Temporary/Term-Limited
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Twitter Handle @RiceUniversity


Fondren Library and the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning (CERCL) seek a Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation for African American Studies to lead efforts to curate digital collections focused on African American activism and cultural expression in Houston. This fellowship presents a unique opportunity to hone expertise in community archiving and data curation, as well as to work with local organizations such as Black Lives Matter Houston, the Community Artists Collective, and groups addressing the legacy of convict leasing in managing their own digital collections. The Fellow will be co-housed in Digital Scholarship Services and in CERCL. He or she will collaborate actively with the Woodson Research Center and other colleagues on building, describing, and preserving archival collections in digital and physical formats.


We seek a Postdoctoral Fellow who understands key issues and best practices in data curation, community archiving, and data ethics; can build trust with local communities; demonstrates a strong knowledge of core themes (e.g., Great Migration, religious traditions, civil rights and political engagement) and methodological approaches (e.g., intellectual history, cultural studies, and religious studies) in African American studies; and is adept at learning and using information technology.  We expect that the Fellow will be well-versed in research methods that involve working with archival materials and analyzing data. A willingness to listen to various groups and to learn new skills will be crucial to this position.

The Fellow’s primary responsibility will be to work with local activist groups in the African American community to help curate digital objects documenting their work. These digital objects may include social media, databases, websites, documents, photos, videos, oral histories, and more. The Fellow will be responsible for developing policies and processes both sensitive to the needs and concerns of local communities and grounded in best practices in digital curation and community archiving. While some of the materials will likely become part of Fondren’s collections, we also expect that the Fellow will empower local communities to organize and preserve their own collections. Hence the Fellow will devote significant time to assessing the collections and needs of community organizations, training them in best practices for curation, and consulting on approaches best suited to their unique situations. The Fellow will create inventories, workflows for organizing data, and strategies for sharing collections (as appropriate). Training materials will be openly shared online, using Creative Commons licenses to facilitate reusability. The Fellow will also teach workshops on data curation for members of the Rice community.  In the second year, the Fellow will produce a guide to community archiving and a white paper analyzing the challenges and successes of his or her work in Houston. In addition, he or she will create an online guide that describes collections documenting African American activism across Houston area. Depending on the Fellow’s interests, there may be opportunities to curate exhibits, host lectures, and partner with other Rice and community organizations.

Roles and Duties

  • Conduct outreach about data curation to African American activist groups in Houston
  • Assess and inventory local data collections
  • Develop best practices documents on curating data, including confidential or sensitive data
  • Consult with local organizations and members of the Rice community on data curation
  • Teach workshops on data curation for community groups and for Rice faculty, students and staff
  • Participate in the data curation, digital humanities, and African American studies communities at Rice and across Houston



  • A Ph.D. within five years before the application in an area that relates to African American Studies
  • Strong outreach skills
  • Basic understanding of best practices in data curation, data ethics, and community archiving
  • Knowledge of the archival workflow
  • Comfort with using and learning digital technologies
  • Experience with teaching or training
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Outstanding collaborative skills
  • Strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Sensitivity to privacy


  • Experience with digital curation platforms
  • Experience conducting user studies
  • Experience conducting collection assessments
  • Experience developing digital humanities projects
  • Experience with metadata standards

Guidance and Professional Development

  • The Fellow will be jointly managed by Dr. Lisa Spiro, Executive Director of Fondren Library’s Digital Scholarship Services, and Dr. Anthony Pinn, Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities, professor of religion, founding director of the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning (CERCL), and Inaugural Director, Center for African and African American Studies at Rice University.
  • Digital scholarship librarians and archivists will help to train and mentor the Fellow.
  • Since this position demands creativity and excellence in research, 20% of the Fellow’s time will be devoted to personal research projects and scholarly activities.
  • The Fellow can apply for funds for conference travel.
  • The Fellow will participate on Rice’s Research Data team.
  • The Fellow will be able to take technical and professional workshops at Rice.

Salary and Benefits

Salary & benefits: $67,500 per year; no state or local income tax; 21 benefit days; health insurance.


Environment:  Rice University provides a stimulating work environment, with opportunities to participate in the delivery of innovative library services supported by leading edge technologies.  Fondren Library ( is a research library with more than 2.8 million volumes and more than 141,000 subscriptions, including titles available through aggregators.  The Library has a state-of-the-art off-site shelving facility.  An active program of digital resource delivery and development is grounded in successful collaboration among library and University staff from Digital Scholarship Services, other library departments and University information technology staff.

Through innovative research, engaged pedagogy, and creative approaches to application, The Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning seeks to promote and advance models and practices of an expansive approach to leadership both on and off the Rice campus. While the activities of the Center will grow and shift over time, it functions based on an understanding that fulfillment of its mission involves careful attention to some of the basic building blocks of leadership: (1) creative knowledge production; (2) critical thinking skills; (3) effective communication strategies; and (4); application through engagement with a wide-range of perspectives, persons, and interests, both locally and globally. CERCL’s mission and objectives are enacted through innovative programming meant to enhance attention and approaches to addressing the socio-cultural, historical and political dimensions of life in Houston.

Houston is a vibrant, multicultural city, with world-class visual and performing arts ranging from the traditional to the avant-garde.  The fourth largest city in the country, Houston enjoys a moderate cost of living and easy proximity to the Gulf Coast.  For more information, see: