Monthly Archives: June 2013

Confessions of an Emerging Archivist


Confession #1: Working with archival collections is something like spying on someone else’s  life. I’ve heard it said that the lovely thing about working in an archive is that you get to open people’s mail and it is not a federal offence. ‘Tis true…:)

Confession #2: I mentioned the micro spatula…well, I think removing staples is therapeutic. I inwardly cheer whenever I come across stapled papers. Don’t look at me like that, I’m normal.

Confession #3: Whoever says that the alphabet song is for babies has never alphabetized a correspondence series, especially not after 3pm. Don’t worry, I don’t sing out loud.

Confession #4: Gaining real world experience while in grad school makes all the difference in the world. It allows me to see (and hear) how information in the classroom is applied in real life.

Confession #5: I’m considering specializing in preservation of photographs. The topics of  appraisal and restoration of historic photographs fascinates me.

That’s all the confessions I could think of at the moment, besides that I have one more week left in my first summer term. Tomorrow I get to interview a library professional, only I chose to interview the assistant curator at a research center, because I am interested in working with specialized collections.

This past week has been spent rearranging the collection according to series.  I have labeled the folders and sorted the contents of the collection, according to the categories I established. For example: Correspondence – Friends and Colleagues, Biographical and Family Materials – Burials and Cemeteries, Print Material – Articles and Clippings. I have been keeping mental and written  notes on the arrangement. Tomorrow, I will likely begin writing series description, which means describing the contents of each series and detailing the specific entities researchers will be interested in. This entails describing  the scope of the collections, such as who is in the photographs and what institutions are included in the correspondence series.

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Lovin’ It!!


I completed my first week of internship and am now in the middle of my second week. All I can say is: “I love it!!” I also love the atmosphere. I’ve never been around so many people who actually enjoy their job.

Currently, I am working on processing  a collection of 3.3 linear feet (not including an addition we received yesterday), which was recently acquired by the archive.  The creator was an art patron, art collector, and very wealthy. Upon his death, his art collection was gifted to various museums and galleries around the country. Our repository received his personal papers and records.  Apparently, one of the staff was hoping to process “my collection,” due to its interesting nature. Guess I won the lottery. 🙂

Last week was spent surveying the collection and taking notes on the contents, condition, existing organization, and noting any preservation concerns. I also completed a processing proposal and submitted a draft of an organization plan. It was a bit difficult for me to adjust to sitting in an office environment all day. (My background is in education and I rarely sat longer than thirty minutes at a time, if even that. By the end of the week, though, I could appreciate the quiet and calm.) I think my favorite part of this collection is the photographs ( I love vintage photos) and the records on the family yacht. I’ve never handled yacht blueprints before. So neat!

This week, in addition to finalizing my organization plan, I am beginning to physically rearrange the records and take preservation action. This includes interleaving photos with acid free paper. For the older and more fragile photos, I am interleaving with renaissance paper. After having combed through the collection while surveying, I am familiar enough with the creator and his family to identify them in photographs. I have begun separating photos of the creator and placing them in a separate folder.  I got to dismantle my first photo album. Sounds really complicated, right?

Today, I also worked on organizing the creator’s personal business records and placing them in acid free folders (a.k.a. sorting according to date and removing staples). Did I mention that micro spatulas are indeed the coolest tools ever?