Dodd International Justice Research Fellowship Report, 2013

Court Scenes, 1945-1946
Thomas Dodd, Chief Trial Counsel in the Court of the International Military Tribunal, 1945-1946.

In January 2013 I applied for the Thomas J. Dodd International Justice Research Fellowship. This fellowship supports research at the Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, furthering the Center’s aim to promote human rights. The Center is also dedicated to promoting the work and career of Thomas J. Dodd, executive trial counsel for the United States at the International Military Tribunal (IMT Trial). A higher degree by research student from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University, Melbourne (Australia), I was both honoured and excited to be given this opportunity. The fellowship involved a two-week stay at the University of Connecticut (UCONN) campus to conduct Ph.D. research during summer 2013. Over a period of two weeks I worked closely with the Center’s staff searching through the Thomas J. Dodd collection and analysing documents relating to war crimes trials of Nazi criminals held in the aftermath of World War II, specifically the IMT Trial.

The Dodd Center’s collection is exceptional because it brings together a comprehensive range of trial documentation at one location. The Dodd Papers are a valuable set of historical documents that hold relevance in a range of academic fields, not least human rights and history. Moreover, the documents are predominantly printed in English, and include various translated German documents, which normally I and many other scholars would be unable to access. I was excited to be given the opportunity to conduct research in an international setting but also to engage with the valuable archives housed at the Dodd Center.
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National History Day, “Turning Points,” and

In the years that I have been a curator here in Archives & Special Collections I have been fortunate to work with a wide array of researchers, from academic scholars, graduate and undergraduate students, and genealogists to railroad fans, lawyers and preservationists, but I admit to you all right here and right now that I get the most satisfaction when I work with middle school and high school students, those who are at the early point of discovering the wonder and power of primary sources.   And one of the ways we get to work with young students is to help them find the resources they need for National History Day projects.

Never heard of National History Day?  Here is the description of the contest from the website at

“Each year, more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide participate in the NHD contest. Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries. These products are entered into competitions in the spring at local, state and national levels where they are evaluated by professional historians and educators. The program culminates in the Kenneth E. Behring National Contest each June held at the University of Maryland at College Park.”

The theme for the 2013 contest is “Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events,” and, a project of Connecticut Humanities, is helping provide primary sources to NHD students by creating a new series of essays called “Turning Points.”

Thomas J. Dodd at the Nuremberg Trials, 1945-1946, from the Thomas J. Dodd Papers

We here in Archives & Special Collections are collaborating with by choosing materials from our collections and providing these sources and essays for students to use for their NHD projects.  Two of the essays are currently online (with more to come), which include:

Connecticut Lawyer Prosecutes Nazi War Criminals at Nuremberg, which describes the work of Thomas J. Dodd, who served on the Executive Trial Council at the Nuremberg Trials following World War II, and the tragedy of Kristallnacht, a turning point that unleashed the persecution of European Jews by the Nazi regime.

Reporting News of Pearl Harbor, which tells of how Andre Schenker, a professor of history at the University of Connecticut and a commentator for Hartford radio station WTIC in the 1940s, reported this shattering world event — a turning point in history if there ever was one — to his Connecticut listeners.

There are more “Turning Points” to come, so stay tuned.  Also, if you haven’t tooled around then spend a few minutes with this extraordinary resource, reading the essays and looking at the unique photographs and documents.  There is a lot to learn there about the history of Connecticut!

Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections