The exhibit panel by Trent Purdy, with photos and a flag from our collection.
I had the great fortune of visiting Hawaii for the first time three weeks ago. I was on the island of Oahu for four days, and I spent one morning at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Though the rain prevented me from going out to the USS Arizona Memorial, I was still able to explore the exhibit gallery, theater, and bookstore.
The first thing that caught my eye when walking into the second exhibit gallery was a block “A.” As many know, the University of Arizona Libraries Special Collections had a semester-long exhibit last fall to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the bombing of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. You can still view its online companion exhibition, USS Arizona: That Terrible Day. Trent Purdy, Assistant Librarian and Archivist, curated that exhibit and was asked by the National Park Service to put together a panel on the USS Arizona and the University of Arizona to be displayed at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, which attracts nearly 2 million visitors each year.
Me at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The small white structure in the background is the USS Arizona Memorial.
In addition to Trent’s exhibit panel, I enjoyed seeing one of the two bells from the USS Arizona; the other bell is located at the Student Memorial Union on the UA campus. The trip to the Visitor Center was educational and sobering; I would recommend anyone to go. Just make sure to book it in advance, as they only allot about 1,500 tickets per day. And check the weather report before you go, too.
Since my supervisor, Maurita Baldock, left us in December to go to work at the Library of Congress, I am now taking direct orders from Trent Purdy, Assistant Librarian and Archivist-extraordinaire at the University of Arizona Libraries Special Collections. He’s not really barking orders but assigning me interesting writing projects that require research and fact checking—two of my favorite things! After I finished processing the Riggs Family Papers (MS 580), Trent set me onto a new processing project that is entirely different than the historical collection that I finished. Currently, I am processing more contemporary records (bulk 1970s-1980s) of a woman who worked for the City of Tucson with the Citizen Participation Council and the Model Cities Program. When I am not in my cozy basement corner sorting through the Maxwell papers,
I am writing narratives for the World War II exhibit that will be on display during the Festival of the Books. The great thing about these mini-projects is that I learn so much. The narratives I have written about are on the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the destruction of the U.S.S. Arizona, and the Japanese American Internment Camps. Each assignment has taught me a great deal about Arizona’s place in World War II history.
I hope you will come and visit us at Special Collections during Tucson’s Festival of Books, March 11-12, 2017.