Hispanic Heritage Month

A new pop-up exhibit curated by yours truly was installed in the reading room last week, and will remain until October 14th. This exhibit celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs September-October 15th annually. In the case is a folio titled Lola — it is a literary primer for Mexican women and addresses topics of womanhood in Mexico. In the primer, Lola recounts growing up poor, taking care of her siblings, and later discusses the importance of women knowing how to read so that they can understand laws and legislation in their country. The illustrations were completed by Gonzalo Becerra and was produced by Mujeres para el Diálogo in 2013.

The gallery above shows this single oversized item in the pop-up case. I decided that for this display, I wanted to focus on a single item that represents Mexican/Hispanic heritage. It is also rare for oversized items to be placed on display because they tend to take up a significant amount of room — in this case, I wanted Lola’s story to be the focal point.

This display could not have been created without the help of several others, however! Patricia Ballesteros and Lorenia Diaz tirelessly helped me work on my Spanish cards, all of which are set in 14 point font and are the ‘main’ descriptions within the case. English transcriptions were provided, but I again wanted to focus on the Spanish language for this case. I cannot thank Patricia and Lorenia enough for all of their help as I worked on grammar, choosing the best wording, etc., for my cards.

Fleur (pictured above, wiping a case down) and her assistant Andrea were paramount in making sure this display was perfect. They went to their maker’s lab and created the stand for this large folio to stand on for this display. Fleur then tirelessly made sure to weave the binding together to further support it. Andrea came up with the genius idea to drape the stand in black cloth. Both were then wonderful in cleaning the case to really make sure viewers could ‘see’ the work. Again, I cannot thank them enough for helping my vision become a reality!

Digitizing photos from the University of Arizona Photograph Collection

I am Kaitlyn Ruelas and I am currently in my second year of the UA MLIS master’s program. I am also a student worker at UA Special Collections. My primary role as a student worker is working with the University of Arizona Photograph collection. I find photographs within the collection and scan them. Once these photographs are scanned, I create metadata for them and upload the images to CONTENTdm. I enjoy looking at photographs from the past, it has been a great experience looking at all these amazing photographs and putting them online for everyone to see. I love that I am contributing to the University of Arizona History.  

This is a photograph I digitized:  

University of Arizona Photograph Collection. “Stephen Brown” Students-1891-1900 Individuals A-L. Special Collections.  

This is a photograph from UA photograph collection. This was a folder that was studios portraits of students. I enjoy finding photographs like the one above. I like looking at photographs of people from the past, one of my favorite things to do is to look through UA newspapers and yearbooks to find more information of the person or event of the photograph. In this case I looked at a newspaper to find the name of the young man in the photograph, the more information I find the better I can make a description for the photograph.  

When I am not scanning photographs from the UA photograph collection, I am working on reference questions. These questions can be from UA faculty, UA departments, and patrons who just have to know what information we have in a certain collection they are looking for, or if patrons want certain items scanned, I will find the collection, find the items they need, scan the items, and those will get sent out to the patron. Reference is another part of the job I have been enjoying. I get to look at interesting items and finding the items is fun to do.  

Miner’s Story Project

Hello, fellow students and apprentices! It’s been a long summer, and I’m definitely eyeing that thermometer as the season finally changes into fall. I hope the semester has been kind to you thus far, and you have been discovering little – but no less important – nuggets of information that have served you well. 

About me:

My name is Alisha Budy, and I am pursuing my Masters degree, with a certificate in Archives. This coming spring is my last semester, and I’m experiencing equal amounts of excitement and apprehension! I’ve worked in several places around campus: the Visual Art Archives and Center for Creative Photography, but this is my first time working in Special Collections. After completing my master’s degree, I hope to pursue a career in the field in a museum setting, and since I’m an artist myself, I see the value in preserving and conserving art for future generations to experience.

When I’m not delving into school projects, as I mentioned, I’m an artist, with a particular interest in painting and making art dolls from scratch. I am soon to be married (just a couple more months now!) and also a mom to a precocious senior cat.

Her name is Luna. Or just, simply, “kitty”.

The Collection:

This semester I’m processing the collection entitled “The Miner’s Story Project”, donated by our own Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium. I have only spent a short time doing the preliminary survey so far, as I’m only able to be physically here one day a week, but it is already proving to be an interesting collection. Because it spans a few decades, it not only includes photographs, memorabilia, and books, it also includes several generations of AV and digital media. As you can see in the photo below, there’s a wide variety of media, and these are just some of them. There are also DVDs, VHS tapes, hard drives, and a “projection master” (If anyone has an idea of what this is, let me know!). I’ve never worked with so many types before, and I’m not entirely sure what is on each type of media, but I’m optimistic about the learning journey.

Although the website isn’t operational anymore, AZ Entertain has a small blurb about the project, in case you’re interested in an overview: http://www.azentertain.com/irondoormine/minersstoryproject.html, or check out the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/minersstory. The links on the AZ Entertain page unfortunately don’t work, but the Facebook page has a small collection of short YouTube videos, which are fascinating! I can’t help but get caught up in each of their stories – the thousands that worked in environments that were often lonely, turbulent, and dangerous.

I am looking forward to working with different cultures and peers, researchers, and students in the future, and I hope to get to know a little more about you all this semester. Even if not, I wish you luck and great success in your endeavors. Have a great week!


My name is Sarah Hunt (she/her) and I’m an undergrad intern at Special Collections for the Fall of 2022 semester. A little about me is I’m currently in my Senior year, working towards my BA in History and Theatre Arts here at the UofA.  After attaining these degrees I plan on getting my MLIS.

I’m already in my fourth week here at Special Collections and I’m working on processing the Elizabeth Gunn Collection. There are sixteen boxes in the collection and so far I have learned a lot about Gunn and her dedication to her work. What is in the boxes ranges from her earlier workers as a travel writer to her later works as a novelist. There are also some boxes that contain posters of her books that would be set up for signings and images that her husband took while they traveled.

I cannot wait to dive into this collection further and share more with you in the future. Bye!

Bear Down Fight Song Exhibit

I had the opportunity to work on an exhibit about the University of Arizona’s “Bear Down” fight song and its composer, Jack K. Lee. Before working on this project, I helped to write captions for and set up an exhibit related to the University of Arizona in the 1970s. This experience helped to inform my decisions when setting up my own exhibit. The central item of the exhibit is the hand-written draft of the “Bear Down” fight song, written by Jack K. Lee on a paper bag during his flight home after being hired by the University of Arizona. The exhibit also includes photographs relating to Jack K. Lee, UA bands, and UA Band Day, which included performances by both UA’s marching band and local high school marching bands. 

The exhibit is currently displayed in the reading room of Special Collections, and will be available until November 3rd

The following is a description of the fight song sheet music as displayed in the exhibit: 

The University of Arizona’s fight song, “Bear Down,” was written in 1952 by Jack K. Lee. Lee wrote the words and music on a paper bag while on the flight back home after being interviewed by UA for a position. The song was nearly finished by the time his plane landed, and after he was hired as director of bands for UA, the song was played publicly for the first time in September of 1952. The origin of the slogan “Bear Down” stems from student body president and varsity football quarterback John “Button” Salmon, who died due to injuries from an automobile accident, giving a final message to his teammates through athletics director J. F. McKale: “Tell them to bear down.” 

The lyrics on the sheet music read: 

Bear Down, Arizona

Bear Down, Red and Blue

Bear Down, Arizona

Hit-’em Hard, Let ’em Know Who’s Who;

Bear Down, Arizona

Bear Down, Red and Blue

Go, Go, Wildcats, go; 

Arizona, Bear Down

What is inside this art piece?

While inventorying the Joy Harjo collection — still in progress, I’m working through 90 linear feet of material! — I found a very interesting can within a box. This was an interesting find and I had several questions (1) what is this, (2) how did it get here, (3) and what is inside of this can and (4) can it be removed?

Initial research found that this art piece is part of Antoni Miralda’s “Honeymoon” exhibition. The project spanned 1986 to 1992, and was an artistic marriage between the Christopher Columbus Monument in Barcelona, Spain, and the gorgeous Statue of Liberty in New York. Miralda’s art was a series of honeymoon-themed pieces that led up to a wedding ceremony in Las Vegas (1992). For more information on Miralda’s work, I recommend a visit to the Nevada Museum of Art. As you can imagine though, this became a fascination downstairs where the GAs were working. We had no idea that Chris and Liberty had gotten married — we are very happy for the couple.

Inside of this “coin holder” we could see a piece of paper. This sparked discussion!

The “coin holder” that we found in Joy Harjo’s collection is one piece of Miralda’s exhibition and exists as an art piece — we do not recommend actually collecting coins with this piece. Why? Well, there is simply no way to open this can. We discovered this after seeing that there was a little piece of folded paper inside of this can. The lid does not come off. There is no secret way to open the can without damaging it. And so… we had some questions.

  1. Was the piece of paper inside of this coin holder supposed to be there? Was it something that Miralda had inserted into the can before the can was sealed shut?
  2. Is it possible that the piece of folded paper was added later by Harjo? Or someone else?
  3. Was there a safe way to extract the paper from the can? And if there was a safe way to extract the piece of paper, after finding out what the paper is, were we going to just put it back? Should it be housed separately?

This led to an hour-long investigation into whether or not the paper could be removed. My fellow workers-turned-mystery-solvers, Zoe and Sarah, decided to formulate a plan. Using different materials, our plan was to carefully “chopstick” the paper out. Using archival spatulas, we planned to hold the paper down and then carefully coax it out of the small slit at the top of the can (designed, one would think, for coins).

Having used the spatulas to coax the paper to the top, Zoe could then touch the paper!

Did we end up getting this paper out… you know we did. It turned out to be a shopping list created by Christopher Columbus and Lady Liberty and included avocados, mangos, potatoes, etc. This answered the question of whether or not the paper was part of the piece: yes. We now believe Miralda wanted the paper to remain in the can as part of the art itself, so the paper was carefully refolded and returned to the can (after we made a copy of the list to include with the can — just so everyone can see the list, but we never have to pull the paper back out!).

Talk about the most unique item to be found last week in a collection! After an hour of exploration, discussion, and mystery solving… we all went home feeling rather excited that we’d cracked this mystery wide open. Special thanks to Zoe and Sarah, who honestly did most of the “operation style” extraction. Without them, the mystery never would have been solved!

Greetings everyone and happy fall!

My name is Zoe Harrison (she/her) and I’m a new GA at Special Collections for the 2022-2023 academic year. A little about me – I am a third year MA student in the History department and a second year MLIS student here at UA . I was a TA for the last two years and am excited to start something new and gain experience in a field I aim to work in one day. 

A small portion of my assigned collection.

I’m in my third week and so far I have been working through the processing steps for my collection. As the Udall GA, I get to process the newest additions to the Morris and Stewart Udall collections. At the beginning of this, I knew very little about the Udalls or their political legacy but as I sort through their materials and read biographies about them, I’m enjoying getting to know them through what they’ve left behind.

As a history graduate student, I’m trained to get to know people through their legacies, their lasting impressions, and of course, the physical materials they’ve left behind. Historians frequently work with archives and depend on the work of archivists to find the materials they desire and as the semester continues, I’m excited to learn more about the archivist perspective on historical materials.

Final note – part of my decision to major in history was my lifelong obsession with the Kennedy family and their legacy. While surveying my collection, I have found several (signed!) Kennedy items, which has resulted in total geeked out squealing from my corner of the Special Collections basement.

Until next time, folks!

Fall Means Two Things!

Two things happen in the Fall here at the University of Arizona. First, the Starbucks located next to our building begins selling the Pumpkin Spice Latte again. This is exciting in Archives Land because let’s be honest, coffee keeps us going some days. As a #PSL aficionado, I can also state our Library baristas make one of the best PSLs in the Tucson area.

Second, Graduate Assistants here at Special Collections are assigned their new collection to process! As someone who has participated in this rodeo before, I can attest that getting your first collection of the academic year to process is a big step in your career. This is the collection you’ll be getting to know long-term, the collection you’ll be thinking about when you go home, the collection you’re going to know like the back of your hand by the time you’ve waded through it, processed it, created its finding aid, and presented to everyone you love. This collection is your work baby. And guess which collection I get to work on this year?!

Photo: Matika Wilbur (joyharjo.com)

If you guessed Joy Harjo‘s papers then you are absolutely correct! Joy Harjo (Muscogee (Creek) Nation) is a poet, singer, saxophonist, activist, artist, the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States, an educator, and someone whose work I’ve been reading for years. It is, clearly, thrilling to be tasked with going through 90+ boxes of materials related to Harjo and her work. At the moment, I am at Phase I: Inventory the materials. Right now, I’m just going through the boxes to get an idea of what the collection contains. This will help me create a “Processing Proposal” — which explains how I plan to arrange the collection.

Materials include “traditional” items like the correspondence above. In fact, there are boxes and boxes of personal and business correspondence that will need to be sorted. Will I arrange things by year? Absolutely. But I’d like to get a handle on how much total correspondence there is before I begin to make further assessments of how to arrange this type of material.

There are also unique materials within the collection, like the t-shirts depicted above. The collection also has awards, plaques, posters, artwork, cds, dvds, cassette tapes, pamphlets, flyers, and everything in between! In fact, one of the most unique boxes I found (pictured below) is a large box of airline tickets — from back when airline tickets were cool booklets, not little QR codes on your phone.

Buckle up! This project is going to be shared with my readers throughout the year. I am truly excited about it, and hope that throughout the process I get you all very excited about this upcoming collection as well! If you have not had the opportunity to read some of Harjo’s poems, I highly recommend Crazy Brave.

Jack Sheaffer Collection

Over the past week I’ve assisted with scanning film negatives for a patron. This was my first time scanning film negatives, so it was interesting to learn the process. It’s very similar to scanning digital photographs, but each negative is placed in a frame and both sides of the scanner are used instead of one. I always appreciate the opportunity to learn how unique materials are digitally preserved, as different materials require different preservation practices. It was interesting to match the frame size to the size of the film negatives, and I found the frames very helpful in keeping the photos aligned correctly for the scan. 

The photographs were primarily located in the Jack Sheaffer collection and were related to construction. Jack Sheaffer worked as a freelance photographer in Tucson, his photographs being used for the Arizona Daily Star. The collection includes a variety of photographs of people, places, events, and daily life. This is a very large collection with hundreds of boxes, so there’s lots to see within it! 

The Jack Sheaffer collection is available for viewing here: https://content.library.arizona.edu/digital/collection/sheaffer/search

Fred Harvey Continued

    For the past few weeks, I have continued working on digitizing the Fred Harvey Collection. So far, I’ve matched physical photographs with scanned photographs on the computer, making sure the items in each folder are labeled and that the file names matched the item names. I also re-scanned and re-cropped some images so that they’d better match their physical counterparts. In addition, I’ve started to create metadata for images that have already been scanned. Repeatable metadata has been entered for five Fred Harvey boxes, and I’ve done about three boxes worth of descriptive metadata. Luckily, many of these photographs are captioned, so identifying the contents of the images has been relatively easy. However, there are close to 200 photographs in each box, so creating metadata for each image has been time-consuming. My timeline for completing this project was therefore a little optimistic, as each box is taking longer than I expected. Despite this, I’ve really enjoyed working on this collection and I look forward to seeing what other items can be found within it. 

    So far, the photographs I’ve worked on have been organized by location. It’s been interesting to see what various Fred Harvey buildings look like throughout the Southwest. The contents include hotel rooms, lobbies, dining rooms, lunch rooms, news stands and general architecture. Personally, I found the Grand Canyon images especially interesting. The photographs consisted of hotels, cabins, tourist attractions, and Grand Canyon views. One highlight of the Grand Canyon photographs was the Hopi House, with many shots of the interior and exterior. The Hopi House was built by the Fred Harvey Company to be reminiscent of a Hopi pueblo. The building is a market for Native American crafts and art.