The MicroWorlds Lab

Collaboratively exploring stories to discover the dynamics of human history

How do we tell rich, captivating stories about unique historical individuals, communities or events that give us deep insight into lived human experiences?  In this lab, we’ll answer that question by doing it — by exploring the often overlooked or silenced voices of history, and by learning from each other as we create the stories that dynamically link the past to the present and that are vitally relevant to shaping our future.



Located at 101 Classroom Building, the MicroWorlds Lab is a physical, social and intellectual space to research and write historical stories through microanalytical methods and practices by: providing a community environment for undergraduate learning and exploration, as well as scholarly experimentation, in microhistory; training and supporting graduate students in their research and writing, and in mentoring and teaching undergraduates; engaging faculty and students together in classes, workshops, and ongoing collaborative projects; and fostering public knowledge about humanistic inquiry through partnerships, workshops, guest speakers, and conferences.

What can you do in the lab?

Enjoy stimulating conversation and collaborative activities:

  • Learn microanalytical methods for your current project. Get ideas for future projects.
  • Participate in workshops on topics like oral history, social network analysis, narrative, etc.
  • Explore a research interest through thematic research groups.
  • And more!

How can you get involved?

Undergraduate Students

Research historical stories that matter to you, to create your own meaningful MicroWorld.  Join faculty and grad students in exciting collaborative projects through “Embedded” and “Affiliated” courses, workshops, and public events.  All undergraduate majors are welcome!


Graduate Students

All Duke graduate students are invited to participate in lab activities.  Five graduate students annually will receive support to teach and mentor undergraduates in the lab, and to train in microhistorical methods for their own research and writing.



There are two flexible ways to take part in the lab:

  1. Core Participant.  Embed your course in the lab for a semester.
  2. Affiliate.  Link your course to the lab with workshops or teaching activities; collaborate in an ongoing research group; propose and host a guest speaker; and more.


HOME page banner image: Detail of Pauleus Vital’s “Fishermen’s Big Catch” (1968)