What the Future Holds

It has been an amazing year at Special Collections. Once again, I was able to work with a group of extraordinary LIS students that were working their way through their graduate program. I am pleased to announce that Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Emma, and Caroline are now all moving onward — graduating, getting jobs, kicking butt — these are the basic wrap ups here at Special Collections that I am most proud of.

Where am I going… nowhere! I will be working throughout the summer on finishing up a few projects and cleaning up the archives as we prepare for our next group of graduate students and workers. But as I look back at all of my accomplishments of the year, I have to say, I’m quite pleased!

One of the most interesting collections I processed this year was a smaller collection from photographer Leslie J. Yerman. Yerman went downtown and captured images right after the George Floyd protests as well as during the Covid-19 pandemic. Her images are, in many ways, haunting. They are breathtaking. As I worked on this collection, I was able to choose an image to represent the collection on the Special Collections landing page, and fell in love with the following image…

Art inspired by Black Lives Matter and the George Floyd protests. Photographed by Leslie J. Yerman. Used with permission of the photographer. MS 736, Box 1, Folder 1.

Sometimes, it is the smaller collection that really stays with an individual. But I also worked on the much larger International postcard collection (MS 739). This collection includes thousands of postcards from all over the world. What I loved most about this collection is that it allowed me to snoop into the past — that’s right, I read some of the postcards. Most were quite general. But, there were a few secrets to be found!

Postcards from Fontainebleu, France. Box39, Folder15. Some of the gorgeous interiors of a palace!

I will be back this summer to finish up a few new projects, so look forward to summer posts and updates! When not working at Special Collections I will be working on my MLIS — that’s right, I’ve finally entered library school! — by taking two summer courses. In addition, I will be sitting around my ranch working with my newest crop of Boer bucklings and doelings. See everyone in the fall!

Reflections from Special Collections

As I look back on my time at Special Collections, I couldn’t be happier with everything I’ve learned and all the work I’ve accomplished. While this assistantship wasn’t my first time working with archival collections, it was the first time I processed a collection from scratch and the first time I worked with software such as ArchivesSpace. I also worked on a number of meaningful projects that have influenced how I manage records of enduring value.

            The biggest project I worked on at Special Collections was processing the SAWARA collection. The Southern Arizona Water Resources Association was a water rights organization in the 1980s and 1990s that aimed to inform Southern Arizona on water issues and gain support for the Central Arizona Project (CAP). I spent some time surveying the collection and determining the kinds of records it contained and, once that was done, determining how the collection should be organized.

Once that was done, I moved on to some basic preservation of the collection. I replaced all of the folders so that the files fit in the boxes properly and created new labels. I then worked on arranging the collection at the series and subseries level and describing the types of materials in it. I created a finding aid on ArchivesSpace that described the history of SAWARA, the scope and contents of the materials, the organization of the collection, and a container list of the different items within the collection. After exporting the finding aid, it was uploaded to Arizona Archives Online and can be accessed online. Likewise, the boxes have been moved downstairs and can be requested by contacting Special Collections.

Another collection I processed was the Sociedad Mutualista de Obreros Mexicanos records. This collection was donated in December and documents the activities of this Douglas-based organization that sought to provide aid to Mexican workers. The records span from the 1920s to 1980s and includes financial records, pamphlets, and books.

Materials from the Sociedad Mutualista de Obreros Mexicanos collection

During my time at Special Collections, we received an addition to the Papers of Stewart Udall collection. These records concerned the downwinders, or the individuals in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah who were exposed to radioactive fallout from nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site in the 1950s and 1960s. Many of these people suffered health effects such as leukemia and thyroid cancer because of this exposure. The downwinders addition also included information about the Navajo miners who extracted uranium from mines on the Navajo Nation after World War II. Like those exposed to the Nevada nuclear tests, these miners also suffered cancers and other diseases as the result of the exposure to uranium. These materials document Stewart Udall’s work with both of these communities to document and raise awareness of these issues before Congress.

Materials in the Downwinders addition to the Stewart L. Udall Papers

I also worked to solve some spacing issues in the Morris K. Udall Papers. When the collection was processed, the boxes were not filled all the way and as a result some of the folders have begun to fall over. Special Collections ordered spacers to fix this issue and I have been going through the boxes to add them where needed. I have also been replacing boxes and lids that have suffered damage as a result of the spacing issues. Below you can see a box that wasn’t filled all the way, and as a result, folders were falling over. I added a spacer and now the folders are standing straight.

I also worked on a number of digital projects as part of my work from home duties. The first was creating digital objects for the digital materials that are available online through the University of Arizona Library Digital Collection and linking them to the finding aids. This was done using ArchivesSpace. I created a new digital object and added the link to the object. Below is an the digital object I created for the Morris Udall with the crew of the 1983 Space Shuttle Challenger photograph from the Morris K. Udall Papers (MS 325).

Another project was assisting Assistant Librarian/Collections Management Archivist Lisa Duncan with an instructional presentation for an undergraduate class. We wanted to highlight the Borderlands collections at Special Collections, so I organized the collections by theme and developed a Padlet activity for the students to complete using the Historic Mexican and Mexican American Press collection of historic newspapers.

Another project I worked on from home was updating the finding aid for the Baron and Lionel Jacobs collection. Using the original finding aid from the Arizona Historical Foundation, I enriched the biographical and scope & contents note, added access terms and box and folder information, as well as folder titles. I also worked on adding metadata to the Peter Goin collection on OMEKA. This included uploading the photographs, adding the title, relevant subjects, a description of the image, as well as coverage information.

Overall, I worked on a variety of projects that reflect the many collections at Special Collections. I learned about the different archival processes that determine how materials are processed, described, and preserved, as well as how archives provide instruction and access. I am very grateful to have contributed to the amazing work that is being done at Special Collections and know that I will carry these skills with me to future projects.

Haunting the Archive – End of Year Wrap Up by Emma Luthi

We often joke about the Special Collections basement being haunted, but during my two years here, I’ve found that I’m generally the spookiest thing down there. While working here, I’ve done many things – processed large and small collections and additions, answered reference questions, and just generally been all over the archive. From finding new homes for giant supply orders to fixing strange issues in collections, it feels like I’ve done a little bit of everything during my time here. I’m sad to be finished.

This last semester of my time in graduate school and my last semester working at UA Special Collections, I was one of the people who spent the most time in the building. With the limited number of people in the building, and the lack of people on campus, it has been an odd experience. The basement hallways can be especially eerie when not all the lights are on.

Basement hallway with some of the lights on and others off.

And yet, I love the basement. I loved processing collections down there and looking through boxes to find the answers to patron’s questions. I walk quietly, and I know I startled a fair number of people down there. I may be the ghost down there, but I was always thrilled to be at work. I’m going to miss it now that I’m graduating. I only hope the next crew to work down there enjoys it as much as I did!

Your friendly archives ghost, wandering the stacks.

End of Year Wrap Up – Caroline Kinsley

(This semester, I was the Rainbow Connection between the Arizona Queer Archives and UA Special Collections!)

Over the last semester, I have been working as an intern for the Arizona Queer Archives. The AQA was founded in 2011 in order to identify, preserve, and share the stories of the LGBTQI+ community in Arizona. This community archive was originally positioned within the Institute for LGBT Studies at the University of Arizona, but in 2018, administrative changes began to threaten the physical space of the archives. In order to find a new home for the collection, the AQA formed a collaborative partnership with the University of Arizona Libraries Special Collections, beginning a practice of shared stewardship. As an intern at the AQA, I managed the transfer of materials between the archives. 

The first collection to move was the Wingspan Collection, which contains 40 linear feet of records from the southern Arizona LGBTQ community center. The AQA acquired this collection in 2014 and processed it to their internal standards, which included arranging the collection into two series and creating a container list in Excel. When the Wingspan collection came to the University of Arizona Archives, I needed to transform the Excel container list into an EAD finding aid using ArchivesSpace. 

It has been an absolute privilege to work on this unique project, and I’ve learned so much about building relationships between community archives and larger academic institutions. Since I am graduating this semester, I will be taking these lessons with me as I start my career as an archivist!

OSIRIS-REx Flair Buttons

As I begin to wrap up all of my final projects for my graduate assistant-ship I wanted to share another one of my favorite parts of this collection. I present to you, the flair buttons worn by members of the OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft team at Lockheed Martin.

Some of these buttons were created it commemoration of different parts of the mission, members of the team, or even used as a way to show support for specific naming conventions that were up for vote. I have included photos of some of the buttons below along with the back story behind a few of them. All of these buttons will be part of the OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Return collection and will also be featured in the digital exhibit coming in May 2021.

Food Runner: Button worn by whatever team member was being sent out to pick up food for a team meeting (Second row, middle)
House Building: This button was commissioned to commemorate the event when multiple members of the OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft team helped build another members house! The button features a photo of them installing the main steel support beam. (Bottom Row, Left)

Mach-5: OSIRIS-REx uses a big data technology called Mach-5 to store flight and test data. This button was made to commemorate the success of integration once it was complete. (Bottom Row, Middle)
One Does Not: This button was created to commemorate the difficulties of working on merge requests in the code repository. (Top Row, Right)

Better in that out: This button was made to commemorate a series of out gassing activities performed during the outbound cruise. These were done to rid the sample return capsule of water that it absorbed while on earth. (Middle Row, Right)
Redmine Ninja: OSIRIS-REx uses Redmine as a project management system. This button was given to those who were considered Redmine experts, aka Redmine Ninjas. (Bottom Row, Left)

Save Joe: This button was made in support of Joe who was the OSIRIS-REx Flight Operations Manger for the Launch and Cruise Phase. The team wore these buttons when it was announced that he would be leaving the program as a way to show how much everyone would miss him and as a thank you for all his hard work. (Top Row, Left)
Eg-Yay: In September 2017, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft performed an Earth Gravity Assist. The image on this button was taken by the TAGSAMS. This button was then used to commemorate the successful EGA campaign. (Bottom Row, Middle)

Updating the Udall Collections

Anyone who has spent time in Arizona will recognize the Udall name. An important political family, the Udalls have served as elected politicians in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oregon for over 100 years. In the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to update the Stewart L. Udall and Morris K. Udall Papers that are housed at Special Collections.

The Udall men
The Udall Men. Papers of Morris K. Udall (MS 325). Special Collections, University of Arizona Libraries.

One of the projects I’ve working on is processing the Downwinders addition to the Stu Udall collection. The downwinders were individuals in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah who were exposed to radioactive fallout from nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site in the 1950s and 1960s. Many of these people suffered health effects such as leukemia and thyroid cancer because of this exposure. Another group included in the downwinders addition are the Navajo miners who extracted uranium from mines on the Navajo Nation after World War II. Like those exposed to the Nevada nuclear tests, these miners also suffered cancers and other diseases as the result of the exposure to uranium. These materials document Stewart Udall’s work with both of these communities to document and raise awareness of these issues before Congress.

Part of the Downwinders additions to the Stewart L. Udall Papers.

I’ve also spent some time rehousing the Morris K. Udall Papers. It is one of Special Collection’s larger collections (805 boxes!) and has been in need of some upkeep to fix spacing issues in the boxes.

My rehousing efforts of the Morris K. Udall Papers.

As my assistantship at Special Collections comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the work I’ve done these past two semesters. I’ve learned so much about processing collections and creating finding aids as well as more about Arizona history. More than anything, this assistantship has confirmed that this is the job I see myself doing long-term.

Creating a Finding Aid

One important step in the archival endeavor is the creation of a finding aid. Finding aids provides information about how a collection was acquired, how it was processed, and perhaps most important, how the collections is organized. In my latest work from project, I have been using ArchivesSpace to create a finding aid for the Baron and Lionel Jacobs Collection. Baron and Lionel were merchant brothers from San California who were sent to Tucson by their father to open a new branch of their retail store. They found great success and soon established the first bank in Tucson, known as the Pima County Bank, in 1879. The collection includes cancelled checks, drafts, invoices, receipts, weigh bills, stationery letterheads (business), letters and other miscellaneous items pertaining to the Jacobs brothers’ mercantile and banking businesses.

A sneak peak of the Baron and Lionel Jacobs Collection finding aid I created

In terms of my physical projects at Special Collections, I finished arranging the SAWARA collection and decided to take a sneak peek at the next collection I will be processing. Consisting of only 5 boxes, this collection is significantly smaller than SAWARA so I do not anticipate in taking much time to process. The collection concerns the records of the Suprema Sociedad de Obreros Mexicanos (Sociedad Mutualista Obrera Mexicanos). As noted by Chávez (2005), “Mutualistas, or mutual aid societies, emerged throughout the Southwest and Midwest in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries … by immigrant workers to help them integrate into society”. This promises to be an interesting collection and I can’t wait to begin processing these records.

Suprema Sociedad de Obreros Mexicanos. Expediente de Correspondencia. Recivida y Girada Durante la Quincena para Darle Lectura en Lasesion (La sesión).

Processing the Helen Maxine O’Callaghan papers

First: Let me remind everyone that I am thrilled to be back to work on campus. While working from home is fun, you do not have the ability to process at home and processing is my favorite task as a graduate student in Special Collections.

This semester, I began processing 5 linear feet of the Helen Maxine O’Callaghan papers (MS 730). O’Callaghan is an author known for her crime/detective, horror, mystery, and romance writing. Her crime/detective novels seem to be the first novels mentioned when you peruse her resume on Google, which makes a great deal of sense considering her “Delilah West” series won her a Private Eye Writers of America award. Not to shabby!

Here is a gorgeous photo of Ms. O’Callaghan with her beloved dogs, Molly and Mocha. Photo credit goes to Tracy Rawls, who shot this image for the novel “Going to the Dogs”.

This collection ended up being broken into three distinct series: Correspondence; Author manuscripts and other writings; and Professional development. Her correspondence includes hundreds of letters between publishers and the author, and sometimes between other authors, as well as with different author organizations. Dean Koontz letters can be found in Box 4, Folder 17, for example.

That being said, I became most interested in the multiple short stories that are included in the collection. Most of these smaller pieces include handwritten notes on them as well as show changes in the author’s writing over time. As an aspiring writer myself (who isn’t an aspiring writer nowadays?) I find these little notes by the author to herself are quite beautiful. What needs to change? What can stay the same? All of these little edits are remarkable — and the collection even includes some unpublished short stories!

I’m looking forward to processing more collections this semester, but it is going to be hard to top this collection!

Let’s Get Physical

As the beginning of the Spring 2021 semester begins the end of my time as a graduate assistant grows nearer. Working on the OSIRIS-REx project has given me the opportunity to learn valuable skills related to digital archiving, documentation preservation, metadata and project management.

Up until this point, all of the documents and other materials I have been working with have been 100% born-digital. Which means they were created digitally, versus having an original physical copy that was then digitized later. As part of my final project for my assistantship, I am working on a digital exhibit that will almost ironically focus on the physical artifacts related to the mission. Throughout the mission, that team has put out several physical branded items including traditional swag items like pins, stickers, and patches. They have also released more unique items like stress balls shaped like the asteroid Bennu and more recently OSIRIS-REx branded face masks!

I am still working on the collecting all of the items but one of my fellow teammates on the mission collected these for me and labeled them so I can begin processing them for the collection.

Here is a closer shot of the items. Some of my favorites that we can see here are number 29, the OSIRIS-REx Valentines Cards and number 6, which shows the asteroid Bennu to scale against the Empire State Building.

Here is a close up of the other half of the table. Something interesting to note about number 19, which are two stress balls shaped like Bennu is that the smoother, more circular one of the right was the original stress ball, modeled after that the team believed the asteroid to look like. When they finally arrived at Bennu and began to get more accurate images sent back they realized that the asteroid was much rockier than previously thought. Which we can see displayed on the second iteration of the stress balls.

I look forward to creating a digital exhibit this semester that highlights this unique aspect of the OSIRIS-REx mission and how looking at these materials can tell us a great deal about the discoveries that were made along the way.

New Year, New Directions

Though it has only been two weeks since the start of the semester, the new year has already brought some interesting changes to Special Collections. The most surprising was the appearance of snow! Tuesday’s cold front brought snow right to Special Collection’s front door. Although it wasn’t enough to last we couldn’t help but take a minute to enjoy the sight.

Yesterday’s “snowstorm” as viewed from Special Collections

I am also happy to report that 27 boxes and 5 months later, I am almost done processing the SAWARA collection! I spent the first months of my assistantship surveying the collection to see what kinds of materials it contained as well as drafting a processing proposal for how I thought it should be organized. After weeding through and re-foldering the many, many boxes, I am quickly approaching the end of the arranging of the collection. It’s been a lengthy process, but I am grateful for the experience and I know I will always fondly remember SAWARA as the first archival collection I ever processed.

A sneak peak of the newly arranged SAWARA collection

As my current project draws to a close I can’t help but to look forward to the new projects I will be working on this semester. There is a brand new collection currently sitting in my office that I will begin surveying in the next few weeks as well as a number of new digital projects I will be working on from home. I look forward to the wonderful opportunities the new year brings to Special Collections.