In 2019, I had the opportunity to spend a month traversing through the Stark Center’s numerous collections. Then in the final stages of completing my Ph.D. research, I left Austin after three weeks of frantic typing and photocopying with the unhappy realization that I had a lot more work to do than I realised. This, as I later learned, was not unique to me.

Many researchers, myself included, underestimate just how much material the Stark Center holds which is unavailable anywhere else. As someone studying physical culture in Ireland, the idea that I needed to travel to Austin, Texas, to learn about Dublin, Ireland, was something of a shock. This surprise – and it was a good surprise – is something highlighted in today’s short blog post.

Now working in the Center, I’m always interested in learning what other researchers’ experiences here have been. So, with that in mind, I set about emailing a number of people who recently made use of our collections with two simple questions in mind. The first of our respondents, Graham Hudson, is a member of the Royal College of Art. His work, primarily, relates to the field of psychology and the philosophical and scientific questions of mind and body. He graciously responded to my two questions as follows:

1) Why did you choose to come to the Stark Center?

I learnt about the Stark Centre from the free online resource ‘The Iron Game History’ magazine … My web searches kept bringing me back to this publication, I was researching the history and psychology of physical culture – from the history of Barbells and Steroids, to book tips and potted histories of where technology and politics crossed with ideas of the body, health and fitness.. As soon as I could, I made a trip to explore the incredible archives first hand.

2) What impact did it have for your research?

Before working with the Stark Centre I had a number of hunches, some leads and connections, but with their generous and intelligent suggestions I was able to make rapid progress and new discoveries. This has led directly to working on a new extensive research project with Museums in Europe and the US, combining historical narratives with the latest technology.

Graham’s story is, as we’ll continually re-iterate in the coming weeks, one of many. For me, these little snippets into other’s work let me know that the Center, and its materials, do seem to promise something for everyone.

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