Coming to the end of my time at Special Collections…

As I finish my graduate school career in less than a week, I wanted to write a blog post on the great professional development opportunities that the archivists at Special Collections have encouraged me to do. Not only do the staff at Special Collections have so many great events and encourage their graduate assistants and volunteers to attend, but they also are very encouraging and open to students traveling and taking time off from work for professional conferences.

In the beginning of April I went to Salt Lake City, Utah to present at the National Association of Chicano and Chicana Studies (NACCS) conference. This conference has scholars from all over the country doing research for the Chicana/o and Latina/o communities.

NACCS INFO

National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies Conference Program. Conference took place April 9 – 12, 2014.

I had the opportunity to present with two professors outside of the archives field on archives. The presentation was a great experience because it allowed members of the NACCS community to hear about archives from an archivist’s perspective. It was really insightful to listen to scholars who use the archive give their perspective of the institution. I also learned a lot about the research being done with oral histories, and education related to the Chicana/o and Latina/o communities. One of the major benefits of this conference was that I was also able to network with amazing scholars in the Chicana/0 and Latina/o studies field.

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Presenting at NACCS on April 11, 2014 on processing archives for the Chicana/o Latina/o community.

I was also encouraged to apply for and later received the 55th Annual ACRL Rare Books and Manuscript Section preconference scholarship that will take place in July of 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. I hope to further develop my knowledge of rare books and manuscript collections. Check out the website if you’re interested: http://www.preconference14.rbms.info/

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55th Annual ACRL Rare Books & Manuscripts Section preconference, “Retrofit: Exploring Space, Place, and the Artifact in Special Collections” that will take place June 24 – 27, 2014, in Las Vegas, NV.

In all, the archivists at Special Collections are great mentors. They have been there to answer all my questions, and have had conversations with me about what the life of an archivist looks like. I am so grateful for this experience and look forward to being a life long learner in this profession. As graduation comes near, and the “real world” begins, I am reflecting on what I have learned and I look forward to working in an archival institution again soon.

Digitizing, Metadata, & EAD

My collection is all labeled and put away! I just finished my finding aid and have started using EAD. EAD stands for Encoded Archival Description and is used to encode finding aids so that they can be displayed online. I am definitely not tech savvy, so this will be a great learning experience for me. A little daunting at first, but I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it.  I had reviewed EAD in my IRLS 504 Foundations of Library and Information Services course, so it was neat to have the opportunity to actually apply that information through the hands on experience that I am getting here at Special Collections.  I am so close to finishing up my very first collection, me and SIROW (Southwest Institute for Research on Women) have been through a lot together.

EAD for SIROW collection

EAD for SIROW (Southwest Institute for Research on Women) MS 518 collection

After looking through more University of Arizona photographs, I learned how to scan the images using SilverFast. I’ve never used the program before and learned how to crop the image, adjust the brightness, contrast, & quality, as well as how to convert the image into a JPEG. I’ve scanned images before, but never to this extent so it was great to familiarize myself with the digitizing process. I also learned how to insert metadata which I had very little experience with in the past. Information such as: title, date of photograph, creator, description, subject heading/s, and collection identifier is given and displayed online so that users can view and access the photograph along with its content.

University of Arizona Digital Collection-Interior of the Library Reading Room

University of Arizona Digital Collection-Interior of the Library Reading Room

I’ve been rehousing the Udall collection, putting the collection into new and improved boxes & folders so that the material remains preserved in new acid-free boxes & folders. The boxes had become compromised over the years from use and acidic material within them. Given the limited resources Special Collections had when it was first processed, the material was housed and labeled in the best way possible. With additional funding from the Udall Foundation we were able to improve and update the housing and labeling of the collection.

AZ 372 Stewart L. Udall Papers

AZ 372 Stewart L. Udall Papers

I’ve also been working on putting together my presentation for the end of the semester. I gave a mini presentation to an alumni tour a couple of weeks ago showcasing a little of what I have been working on here at Special Collections. I brought out some photographs of the University of Arizona and materials surrounding the Wilderness Act.

 

 

Spring Fling tours

Just in case you missed it, the Special Collections had put on a little tour as part of the UA Now Campus Campaign to kickoff Spring Fling. This campaign was a UA and University Libraries  “launch of the biggest fundraising campaign in [UA] history.” The campaign’s intentions were to allow the public to “…hear faculty [and professionals] talk about the latest, inspiring ways we are addressing global challenges – right now.” The Special Collections was one of the venues who wanted to show the public what we do and what kinds of things we get to work with. The Special Collections tour was titled: “Have you ever wanted to view the scientific discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo?”

Photo Credit: Aengus Anderson

What a great audience. I am shown here showing off material that I have worked with on various projects throughout my GAship. Featured items are Tucson Poetry Festival posters, photos from the University of Arizona Photographic Collection, and other photos found throughout the entirety of the collections housed here. Photo Credit: Aengus Anderson

Although the tour was advertised as such, a little time was put aside for the GAs to discuss their projects. So before the tourists could get around to the centuries old material with the Rare books curator Roger Meyers, they were treated with a look into our research and focus with the Special Collections. Earlier that day, Alexa and I pulled out some of the material that we got a chance to work with or are currently working with. We had agreed upon keeping the presentation visual since we hadn’t that much time and we asked ourselves : “who doesn’t like photos or some kind of graphic?” I went back to the collection I had processed last semester- the Tucson Poetry Festival Records, MS 510- and had decided that the banner posters would be a great example from the collection because it lists some of the more renown poets who participated in the event that year. Other material that I discussed were the photographs of the UA Photographic Collection I am currently working with digitizing. I spoke a little bit about the selection, scanning, and authoring metadata processes associated with this project.

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Alexa is shown here talking about the various projects she had undertaken thus far. Currently, she and I are working on digitizing photos. Photo Credit: Aengus Anderson

As our component of the tour finished up, we just tagged along for the rest of the tour- the tour guides became the tourists. It was neat seeing some of the material we don’t normally get to see, because the really old, expensive material is kept in a vault. Roger showed us a facsimilie of the Book of Kells, which is an early book of gospels that is believed to be created somewhere in the 9th century. Manuscripts that were covered were works written by Galileo.

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Rare books curator Roger Meyers answers questions for a curious audience. Featured items in frame that I can name off the top of my head are miniature books and photographic works of Edward S. Curtis within his North American Indian portfolio. Other items Roger had showcased were illuminated manuscripts such as the Book of Kells and scientific discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo. Photo credit: Aengus Anderson

This was a great opportunity to showcase our projects to the general public who flocked to campus due to the annual Spring Fling. If you made your way to campus, you know that it is riddled with exhilarating rides that twist, turn, go up, and go down. Special Collections is indeed one of those exhilarating rides- one I don’t want to get off of.

Inventory for the De la Torre Family papers – new addition

One of the most exciting things that we get to witness as graduate assistants is the collections held at Special Collections. As one of my assignments, I created an inventory for the newly acquired addition to the De la Torre family papers. The majority of the collection is in Spanish and includes letters, newspaper clippings and photographs. The original collection is in MS 420 – De la Torre Family papers, 1874 – 1994.

MexRevandPriest

The De la Torre family was a part of the Cristero Movement. This effort was a post-Mexican revolution revolt from devoted believers of the Catholic Church fighting for religious freedom. During this time, it was common for someone to take arms for a cause that they believed in. In 1927, the war was so serious that a substantial amount of citizens of central Mexico fled and relocated to other safer places to live. I myself know of a few people that were forced to relocate to the United States for a short amount of time due to the violence of the Cristero war.

Horses

Usually the inventory process is done either in box-level or item-level, depending on the size and what it is needed for. Since the aggregation of the De la Torre family papers was small, I did an item-level inventory of the materials. I learned that doing an inventory is important part of the organization procedure because it provides the person who will process the collection in the future an idea of what is in the collection so they can better strategize how to organize it.

Letters_de la Torre

The collection was mostly in Spanish, and since Spanish is my first language, my only challenge in this process was that I had not used my Spanish language skills in months. Through this, I have a greater appreciation of my parents valuing my biculturalism in our household growing up. In being able to speak, read, and write in English and Spanish, I hope to use it to be an advocate for to the Latina/o community in the archival field.

Desert Solitaire

Edward Abbey on the cover of Western Spirit Magazine MS 271 Box 26 F. 13

Edward Abbey on the cover of Western Spirit Magazine
MS 271 Box 26 F. 13

I’ve been doing a number of different projects these past few weeks. I ‘ve been looking through the Morris and Stewart Udall collections as well as Edward Abbey’s manuscript collection for the upcoming exhibit on the Wilderness Act. I found some interesting newspaper clippings, photographs, magazine articles, various bills for the Wilderness Act, Edward Abbey’s poetry, and maps of designated wilderness areas.

Stewart Udall at Rainbow Bridge  AZ 372 Box 92 F. 6

Stewart Udall at Rainbow Bridge in 1961
AZ 372 Box 92 F. 6

I have been working away on my collection, the Southwest Institute for Research on Women (SIROW) and finally feel that things are starting to fall into place. I have all of the materials organized and labeled. I’ve also started working on my finding aid, which to me, is a huge step. Working on my very own finding aid is very cool, and it means that I’m nearing the end. I have never processed a collection before and this will be a pretty big accomplishment for me :) This week I will be shifting my folders to fit inside each box and labeling folder & box numbers. After that, I will work on my finding aid and learn how to use EAD.

MS 518 Box 1  Southwest Institute for Research on Women (SIROW)

MS 518 Box 1
Southwest Institute for Research on Women (SIROW)

 

I was given a project last week to work with Stephen to find photographs relating to the University of Arizona. We looked through the University of Arizona photo collection as well as the digital collection on the Special Collections website and found a ton of amazing photos. We found pictures of the Steward Observatory, Old Main, the library, students in science & health classes, football games, the bookstore, etc.

University of Arizona Photo Collection  ASUA Book Store   Photographs, Folder 1 (1958-1959)

University of Arizona Photo Collection
ASUA Book Store
Photographs, Folder 1 (1958-1959)

 

 

 

 

Hit the ground running

This is the first blog since Spring Break let up. For my own personal edification, I took it upon myself to tour with a couple repositories in northeastern Arizona and New Mexico over the break- the Navajo Nation Museum and the Institute for American Indian Arts, respectively. I was lucky enough to correspond with helpful archivists and curators who were willing to give an up-and-coming student of archival science a tour of their facilities and a talk on their collections management systems.

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An artifact of my tour at the Navajo Nation Museum. The Navajo translation and dubbing of this film has gained notoriety for the NNM. This is a Star Wars themed sandpainting made to commemorate its premiere in Hollywood. Sandpaintings like this were made for each major contributor of this now beloved project. It was very cool to see this.

It was a very enlightening experience which illuminated upon the fact that a lot of archival and museum practices are, indeed, variable. As students, we seldom get to experience real-world applications by professionals of the theory that we study so intensely. The detached format of didactic teaching can be all too insubstantial if not given some real-world context. That being said, the tour was much like working here at Special Collections where it is a real treat to have professionals share their experience and expertise with students.

Aside from my Spring Break adventures, returning to Special Collections feels like I’ve hit the ground running. Perhaps I’ve enjoyed my time off too much? There are a few projects that are keeping me an assiduous archivist. Aside from responding to reference questions from patronizing researchers, I have succumb to experience new areas of duty in this sweet gig at the Special Collections :)

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UA photographic Collection Cabinets. The UA Photograph Collection was created by Special Collections over the years from donations received from students, alumni, and University departments. This collection dates from 1885 to the present, with bulk dates between 1910-1970. It really was a great opportunity to delve into these photos- it was difficult to choose only 50

First of which, I have been tasked with digitizing 50 photographs from the UA Photographic Collection so that they can be incorporated into the online digital collection of the same name. Initially I was to familiarize myself with both the collection and the online digital collection. By doing so, I could identify and bolster themes that comprised the digital collection and at the same time cultivate other themes that were not present. Essentially this project consists of creating a selection criteria for the types of photographs that I would be digitizing, scanning and editing them, and then subsequently write the corresponding descriptive metadata for them.  It has been a really fun experience.

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Old timey bicyclist. As part of this digitization project I am currently working on, I have been trying to cull photos that have a bicycle theme.

 

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Old timey photo of library pages. An ode to librarianship is a must.

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Great compositions within the UA Photographic Collection

Furthermore, there is another digitization project along the same lines that has been assigned to both Alexa and I. As it is very similar to the independent project I am working on, we are tasked with selecting and digitizing 25 photographs. The selection criteria this time will pertain to the prowess and merit of the University of Arizona. On top of the 50 photographs I have been working on, this would put a total of 75 digitized photographs under my belt- that’s awesome!!!

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Selecting photos from the Andrew Ellicott Douglass collection (AZ072).

I cannot say enough how great an opportunity it is to be able to come back and work at the Special Collections. The staff members here are definitely great resources; during my time here I hope I will get to work with all of them in some capacity.

On another note, there is another thing worth mentioning. For a long time now, I have been requesting to sit-in during a donor visit and I finally had the opportunity to shadow the Special Collections Borderlands Curator during a meeting. It really was interesting to observe how a good rapport can be established and maintained- I suspect such a relationship is a testament of how well one’s interpersonal skills are formed. Special Collections does, indeed, have a first rate donor relations specialist. Everybody I work with here is first rate, without a doubt.

 

Processing Experience – William N. Damron, Jr. Collection

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Boxes prior to being processed

One of the projects I am working on at Special Collections at the moment is processing the William N. Damron, Jr. Collection. Mr. Damron worked in theater and was a University of Arizona Alumnus. His collection consists of resumes, programs, and scrapbooks mostly consisting of his theater career. There are 15 scrapbooks which range from 1948 – 2006. Mr. Damron began with performance career at a young age, having his first dance recital in third grade and at Rincon High School he participated in the choir program. The University of Arizona was where Mr. Damron began his acting, dressing and directing career where he also received his M.F.A.

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Two scrapbooks, resumes, and programs while organizing for processing.

The scrapbooks consist of newspaper clippings, thank you/congratulation cards, costume sketches, photographs, certificates, and programs. Some highlights of this collection are his opportunities to work in costume design for events like the Los Angeles Opera, the Academy Awards, and the Grammys. I look forward to making his collection accessible through a finding aid soon.

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William Damron, Jr.’s backstage Pass to the 65th Annual Academy Awards.

As graduate assistants at Special Collections we get an amazing opportunity of putting the theories we learn in the classroom into praxis. It is one thing to read how to process a collection in our textbooks but a completely different experience to actual do the processing. What I have learned in my few weeks here at Special Collections is that there is no one way to process a collection. Different archivists have different methods of processing and materials demand different forms of preservation.  It has been interesting to listen and to learn these different methods from experts. It has also been a great opportunity to take what I have learned here at Special Collections back to the classroom discussion and provide depth and background to what I am are reading.