My name is Mark Sandoval, and I’m a first-year Knowledge River scholar with a graduate assistantship at Special Collections. This is my first formal work experience at a library or archives, though I did some informal work for academic libraries in high school and during my undergraduate years at Centre College in Danville, KY. I’m from a small town outside of Nashville, TN, so I am still getting accustomed to the dry heat of the Southwest. (I’m also getting accustomed to a town whose pride lies in its icy sugar water and is unashamedly apologetic about its football team—“Just wait ‘til basketball season” is Tucson’s unofficial motto.)
Something else I’ve learned in my first month here: The U of A Special Collections Library has one of the country’s largest collections concerning vaudeville. Fortunately, my first job has been to process the Joseph E. Howard collection. Howard (1878-1961) was an American composer and vaudevillian whose most famous songs are “Hello, My Baby,” “Goodbye My Lady Love,” and “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now.”
My favorite part of getting to work with the Howard collection has been learning about his life and the history of vaudeville. Howard has a very interesting rags-to-riches (and then to-rags-to-riches again) story, as he started his performing
career as a runaway orphan on the streets of St. Louis. He had nine different wives throughout his life, some of whom were fellow performers. He was known as an enthusiastic entertainer who loved what he did, and he performed up until the moment he died while giving a curtain call after a show in Chicago at the age of 83.
I’m looking forward to writing a finding aid for this collection soon, and afterwards I will be assisting our Digital Initiatives Librarian, Erika Castaño, on some of her projects. Glad to be here!