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.
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.
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.
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.