Pop-up exhibits are small mini-exhibits that are curated by Graduate Assistants at Special Collections. Each student gets 1-2 months of exhibit time and we are encouraged to create the exhibit based on absolutely anything we are interested in. Those who know me know that I love anything related to animals and livestock so it should be no surprise that my pop-up exhibit this semester is dedicated to “Arizona Livestock” — and I think this may be one of my best exhibits yet! Also of note: we normally are asked to curate one exhibit case… but I saw four empty cases and therefore all four cases are now covered with Livestock memorabilia!
Below are some images of the four exhibit cases that are set up in the Special Collections reading room. The plusses: I made four cases dedicated to something I love! The negatives: Due to Covid-19, we are currently only open “by appointment” so not as many people will be able to view these cases as I’d like. Not to worry, my plan is to scan everything individually when I take the exhibits down in mid-October so that I can put up a quick ‘online digital exhibit’ of what I curated!
Why livestock? Feeding and providing for Arizona starts with its farmers, ranchers, and producers. Raising animals for production values has been engrained into human cultures across space and time and Arizona is no exception. We have a thriving cattle, dairy, swine, sheep, goat, and poultry industry that makes a huge economic impact on the state ($23.3. billion, actually). There are farmers working at high industry levels (Shamrock Farms, Hickman’s eggs, etc.) as well as plenty of smaller at-home or backyard farmers and ranchers that are producing at a smaller scale (nest run egg farms, 4-H individuals that raise a handful of market animals per year, etc.).
According to the Arizona Department of Agriculture (AZDA) there are 18,475 Indigenous farmers and ranchers operating in Arizona, making up 57% of the agricultural operations in the state and residing on 20.6 million acres. This makes up for $86.7 million of direct agricultural sales in the state per year! Below are some early examples of ‘sheep contracts’ and a record book of ranching expenses/purchases.
I am biased, and love animals that help ‘produce’ something. When it comes to dairy products, I am lactose intolerant but I have a deep appreciation for dairy cattle. I also love supporting local farmers, ranchers, etc., and Shamrock Farms is a great example of local business that provides a great product. Almost everyone in Arizona knows of Shamrock Farms, and below is an early photograph of one of their dairy cows with her calf — who is quite proud of her mother’s profession.
I’m also very dedicated to supporting 4-H and other youth organizations. Thus, this exhibit showcases plenty of photographs from early Pima County Fairs, as photographed by renowned photographer Jack Sheaffer. I’m very grateful to be able to explore the process of creating an exhibit from scratch, as this will likely be something I will need to do as a future archivist. Designing these small pop-up exhibits allows a student to think about what they want to exhibit, gives hands-on skills regarding how to search your institution’s materials to see if you have enough to ‘create’ the exhibit, and really lets you practice the creative process (which includes selecting things, moving things around, playing with design elements like height/spacing/placing, remove things you decide against, think about adding something that was a back-up option, etc.). In short, I hope you appreciate this pop-up exhibit because I genuinely loved every moment of creating it for your viewing pleasure!
Hi, I’m Bianca Finley Alper. I’m a second year MA LIS graduate student in the UA School of Information with a concentration in Archives and Special Collections and a Knowledge River Scholar, cohort 19. As part of my iSchool capstone internship I’m working with the curator for the performing arts and architecture to survey and process portions of the Arizona Architectural Archives (AAA).
In the early 2000s, UA Special Collections acquired the archives of the UA School of Architecture. This collection includes important administrative records and original architectural drawings and plans demonstrating the work of many of Tucson’s most prominent architects. Among these works are drawings by Swiss-born architect, Josias Joesler, who is probably most well known for his design of St. Phillips in the Hills Episcopal Church and the Catalina Foothills Estates on the north side of Tucson. Over 600 architectural drawings by Josias Joesler were digitized by Special Collections archivists and student assistants and can be found online in the Josias Joesler Architectural Collection (MS 470).
As developers, the Murpheys sought to attract visitors and potential residents from the eastern U.S. by replicating 1920s architectural styles popular in Southern California that evoked a Spanish fantasy heritage, a narrative that romanticizes and centers a European-focused Hispanic heritage while minimizing the contributions of Indigenous peoples and overlooking histories of Mexican culture in the American Southwest. Renewed interest in this architectural style was not primarily driven by the region’s Spanish colonial history and extant structures, but instead reintroduced by American architects who studied European architecture and shared their eclectic interpretations through displays at World’s Fairs held in the U.S. The Murpheys capitalized on growing popular interest in Spanish Colonial and Mission Revival architecture that emerged after the 1915 Panama-California Exposition held in San Diego, California. It considerably informed their early speculative developments and commissioned projects, to which they included their own loose interpretations of regional and local architectural forms endemic to the Sonoran Desert.
To begin processing and rehousing the contents of a set of binders from the AAA collection, I started by surveying the contents of the binders and decided to focus on a subset of binders that I have so far determined contain documents created by AAA and used to survey projects resulting from the Joesler/Murphey collaboration spanning roughly the late-1920s to mid-1950s.
Nearly each project has a “packet” containing cataloging worksheets created by the AAA, a completed Arizona Historic Property Inventory sheet, and a set of 3.5 x 5 in. black & white photographs of the structure(s) described. Importantly, the cataloging worksheets have a unique cataloging number created by AAA that corresponds to drawings and plans digitized for the Josias Joesler Architectural Collection (MS 470). Once rehoused, arranged, and described in a finding aid, these records will increase discoverability, provide additional context for, and facilitate access to one of the most requested collections of architectural archives held by UA Special Collections.
I recently was processing a UA Presents performing arts addition when I came across several autographed promotional images that had no identification. Thinking about these records’ lack of intellectual value in their current state, housing them as submitted would render them forever unusable. Instead, with more descriptive metadata, they would be more contextually relevant to the collection overall.
The strategy for identifying the artists looked like this:
First, identify the artist using Google Lens technology for facial recognition, located on phone-based Chrome search fields, and look for marketing collateral and imagery similar to our record. Through this method, 40% of the artists were identifiable. However, this approach was less effective with faces shown in profile
Second, conduct Google searches based on snippets of transcribable signatures with some clue from the image – dancer, trumpet, piano, etc. For instance, ‘TS trumpet player.’ These searches generated name identifications for another 40% of the records, and I could again look for marketing collateral and imagery similar to our record.
Armed with 80% of the performers no longer anonymous and 20% remaining unidentifiable, it was time to match performers to appearance dates using three strategies.
Conduct simple boolean-type internet searches of the artist’s name against the words ‘ UA Presents’ and ‘Tucson, AZ’ to find dates of performances promoted through the internet.
Review the EAD finding aid for the existing collection. Series 1 contains folders in chronological order of performance between approximately the 1980s and 2012.
Scour a 75th-anniversary document, part of the incoming addition collection, that lists every performer and presenter for UA Presents from its inception to the late 1990s.
As a final step, I performed a cross-reference validation for each artist and performance using season program schedules (also part of the collection). The result? 90% of these records are identified and can be housed with similar documents according to the collection’s organization. The remaining unidentified records will be accessioned to an existing folder of miscellaneous artifacts.
My name is Rose Reza; I am a queer & transgender non-binary femme of color (she/they) and in my second semester of my MLIS program through Arizona Online. I am also a member of Knowledge River Cohort 20, which is an absolutely amazing fellowship that centers BIPOC grad students in LIS. It was through the assistance of the KR fellowship that I was able to secure a Graduate Assistant position with the U of A Library’s Special Collections. And it is everything I dreamed of!
So, a little about yours truly: I actually hold two M.A. degrees in History. That’s right, TWO. While I may not have utilized those degrees in the intended manner insofar as sticking with my original plan and entering academia as a professor (I transitioned near the end of my Ph.D. program here at the U of A and left in order to figure out Life 2.0, so to speak), the amount of research I undertook in my prior discipline provided me with hands-on experience in archival research, and the theoretical underpinnings of my former discipline entailed critical looks at archival source material (“primary source material,” in History lingo) and at the very institutions that held said material. I was a devoted fan of Michel Rolphe Trouillot’s Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (Beacon, 1995), and it is that book that seriously caused me to consider the ramifications of my then-discipline of History and how the very repositories of source material we were meant to use were–GASP–not neutral institutions and neither was the process of placing material into an archive a neutral process!
Tl;dr I have an intense interest in how collections are entered into archives; in the factors that influence curation and what part the individual archivist plays in the process; in the ways in which archivists can operate ethically and in line with notions of equity and intersectional awareness rather than a non-existent “neutrality;” and cats.
Yes, my cats are my family and thus have an obligatory presence in my life and an important role in recharging those Precious Energy Juices™ that power this particular Archivist Acolyte in her work!
Now, when it comes to the work environment of Special Collections–a dream come true for an introvert like myself!–one of the first things that an Archivist Acolyte learns is how to process a collection. “But Rose, what could this possibly mean, ‘to process a collection?'” you may ask with wünder. Ah, my friend, allow me to elaborate!
So, when a collection is bequeathed to an archive in some fashion (generally, as a gift or a donation from an individual or an organization), the first step to making these materials in the collection accessible for research and posterity is to process the collection. This means to make the collection organized, searchable, and properly preserved for longevity. While I have experience in undertaking archival research proper (I wrote my 2009 M.A. thesis in History at NMSU on the topic of Middle Eastern immigrants to post-Revolutionary Mexico 1927-1937–and those years are picked because they spanned the documents I accessed within the Archivo General de la Nación in Mexico City in the summer of 2008), I had never worked within an archive within an archival aspect outside of historical research. At this point in time after two M.A. History degrees, I am utterly burnt out from engaging in intense historical research–but not at all in terms of learning to do the work of properly organizing an archival collection! 🙂
My first assignment ever as an Archivist Acolyte is to process the collection of Alison Hughes, a prominent Arizonan feminist, which consists of the collected meeting notes, resource pamphlets, and ephemera relating to Tucson-based and Arizona-based women’s organizations and Civil Rights issues starting from the 1970s (when Alison Hughes arrived in Arizona and began her work of contributing to the development of said organizations). Consisting of 35 linear feet of material, this collection may seem intimidating only because of its size, but to your humble Archivist Acolyte, it was an still is an incredibly exciting venture!
So far, I have completed the first initial steps in processing: surveying the collection (taking a macro-view of the materials within and how they were arranged upon receipt) and developing organizations schema appropriate to the integrity of the collection’s contents and any extant organization in the form of a processing proposal (that is, a standardized-format document describing the collection, its contents, their condition, and how you the individual Archivist Acolyte will arrange the materials for ease of access) to be approved by your Archivist mentor. Generally, this initial process involves taking detailed notes that are in essence yours and yours alone–your skills in this regard are trusted while being honed by your mentor so that you can approach future materials with confidence as you work toward becoming a fully-fledged Archivist yourself.
Processing is a process that, while denoted by particular formulas to determine the amount of time that it takes to process the collection, is generally self-paced to the nines. That is: the time frame is not set in stone. Organization and preservation is a time-consuming, often painstaking process, after all, and humans are not machines that can immediately and with mechanical proficiency process data. That all said: archival work is not completely arbitrary and requires a degree of proficiency and a keen eye for organization (and for an introvert like myself, the patience and peace of mind that comes with being largely left to my own devices–a thankful aspect after burnout within “publish-or-perish” academic fields and overly-surveilled corporate workplace environments).
So, what is next in the journey of this Archivist Acolyte? Tune in for the next entry in this series for how this queer & transgender non-binary femme of color develops her skill sets further and shares more about the work of a budding Archivist proper! 🙂
~ R. Rose Reza, M.A. Special Collections Graduate Assistant.
First and foremost, welcome back Wildcats! The UArizona has returned to in-person sessions and the campus is packed with students and I am very excited to be able to see in-person researchers, staff, and my new Graduate Student cohort. Keep in mind: be safe, study hard, take time to relax and reflect, and arrive early to work if you plan to get in line at the Starbucks because this once secretive treasure is up-and-running and everyone knows about it.
Over the summer, I began working on a project to clear up space in our accessions area. This is where all of our incoming collections are housed before they are processed. The best way to clear up space is to process these accessions! First, I went through every row and made a list of all of our unprocessed items (what are they, what is their accession number, what row/tier/shelf are they on, how many boxes are there, and what type of items are they were my main concerns for this survey).
As you can see, we had several one box collections that were new (not additions to existing collections). I began processing these collections and will continue to process many of them throughout the 2021-2022 academic year. Some of these collections are being processed as their own unique collection. The John Franks Bisbee Catholic Church glass plates (MS 750) collection is an example of one of these accessions that was processed individually.
A series of smaller collections have been added to a “Small manuscripts collection” that we are currently working on processing. We have processed 39-one-box collections and have added them to this ongoing collection. Below is an example of some of the collections that are included thus far!
I love processing, so this ongoing project is exactly what I love coming to work for–I get to work on a variety of collections, learn more about different subjects, see original manuscripts, look at photographs that have not been viewed in years, and I am excited to get all of these accessions on the shelf so that others may locate them and potentially use them in their own research.
My GA projects this semester will include (1) a pop-up exhibit, (2) processing two oral history collections, and (3) processing the papers of Jack August. Look forward to many updates about these projects. I have a feeling this is going to be a wonderfully busy semester!
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…
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
(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!
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)