From Poetry to the Night Sky

The best part of being an “Archivist Apprentice” is being able to apply what we have learned in our classes into practice. My first collection, the Jacob C. Solovay Collection, was very small, finishing up at 1.25 linear feet. Mr. Solovay was a retired high school English teacher from New York who sought the calmer atmosphere of Tucson due to a “bad ticker.” In addition to having been a beloved teacher, he was a published poet who dabbled in short manuscripts. The collection was pre-arranged by the author and his family and I was able to maintain the author’s provenance. Processing my first collection made me feel honored to help preserve someone’s legacy, but somewhat intimidated knowing I am responsible for a life’s work.

solovay

An image of Jacob C. Solovay and excerpts of his work. MS 532, Box 2, Folder 2, 1959.

A poem which connects my two collections together nicely. MS 532, Box 2, Folder 2, 1959.

I created the finding aid and was taught to use the Library of Congress Subject Headings to create access terms. It was interesting to see descriptive metadata from the archivist’s point of view as opposed to that of a patron. By the time I finalized my finding aid for the collection, I felt as though I had known Mr. Solovay for quite some time; I learned about him through his writing and developed a respect for his craft.

Portion of the Wieslaw Z. Wisniewski Collection

Portion of the Wieslaw Z. Wisniewski Collection

My second collection, Wieslaw Z. Wisniewski Collection, is still in progress. It is a 10-box collection belonging to a former Lunar Planetary Laboratory astronomer who was an inexhaustible observer. In order to have a better sense of Dr. Wisniewski’s work, I have had to acquaint myself with comets, asteroids, inter-galactic objects and the terminology associated with each type of space object. When I do become perplexed, there are many helpful and knowledgeable individuals in Special Collections who guide me to the correct resolution.

Images taken of 1P/ Halley or Halley's Comet inserted in mylar sleeves to preserve the photos' quality.

Images taken of 1P/Halley or Halley’s Comet inserted in mylar sleeves to preserve the photos’ quality.

The collection’s series (the categories in which the collection is arranged) is fascinating because of the diversity of space objects and the work Dr. Wisniewski needed to accomplish in order to relay the information. For example, he wrote to other astronomers all over the world concerning proposals, collaborative viewings, and research. His research files contain hundreds of observation charts and interesting images. The finding aid will be a massive under-taking as well as converting it to EAD when I finally get to the end of the collection. For the time being, I am still working away.

Working on box 7 of 10, almost there!

Working on box 7 of 10, almost there!

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A Busy Fall Semester at Special Collections

SpecColl_at work

My name is Hanni and this is my first semester at SIRLS as a Knowledge River Scholar. After years working at the Pima County Public Library as a paraprofessional (programming instructor), I finally decided to pursue my MLIS and now here I am. Although my original intention was to focus on public libraries, KR program manager Gina Macaluso convinced me to spread my wings and give Special Collections a try. I am so glad I took her advice!

The first collection that graduate assistants are asked to process is usually a small one. Mine was only 3 linear feet (3 large boxes worth) and it contained the papers of Adalberto Guerrero, Dean of Chicano Student Affairs at the UA back in the seventies. Mr. Guerrero has been a life-long advocate of bilingual education and even testified before the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare in support of S.428, that eventually became the Bilingual Education Act of 1978, the first federal policy of its kind.

SpecColl_Guerrero Docs 5  SpecColl_Guerrero Docs 2

If you have spent time on our Tucson campus and the name sounds familiar, it might be because the former Chicano/Hispano Student Affairs center (in the Cesar Chavez Building) was just renamed after Guerrero and his wife, Ana.

SpecColl_Dia de Muertos 1  SpecColl_Guerrero Student Center

I had been warned that the first collection always takes longer than you anticipate, and that was true for me. A big part of the reason for spending over two months on such few boxes was that I got side-tracked soon after starting, helping out with The Documented Border exhibit. This Open Access digital archive is the product of an interdisciplinary effort to highlight the work of journalists and human rights activists along the border region. Being a native Spanish speaker, I contributed to the exhibit by listening and describing many of the recorded interviews that would eventually become part of the archive, as well as translating the labels to be placed on the exhibit items. It was exciting to take part in this work, even if at times I would spend entire days listening to some of the most heart-wrenching descriptions of violence in Mexico.

The opening reception of the exhibit was so well attended, we had to hold it at a larger venue than originally planned for. All of us graduate assistants helped direct the public, manned the check-in table, and kept busy, but also got to enjoy the unveiling of the digital archive’s website and listening to best-selling author, Luis Alberto Urrea tell us how life along the area has changed since he was a child growing up along both sides of the border. The event was a complete success!

Veronica Reyes-Escudero introduces the panel of speakers.

Veronica Reyes-Escudero introduces the panel of speakers.

These sketches, taken during Operation Streamline court proceedings, frame the exhibit area before the crowds arrive.

These sketches, taken during Operation Streamline court proceedings, frame the exhibit area before the crowds arrive.

A long line of attendees await to have their books signed by author and keynote speaker, Luis Alberto Urrea.

A long line of attendees await to have their books signed by author and keynote speaker, Luis Alberto Urrea.

Jessie K. Finch, PhD candidate, proudly displays a copy of her book, Operation Streamline.

Jessie K. Finch, PhD candidate, proudly displays a copy of her book, Operation Streamline.