I’m Dave Mucz from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. I am extremely honoured and excited to begin my practicum placement at the Burke Library Archives at the Union Theological Seminary. Throughout this experience I hope to gain a better understanding of the archival process within an American context, how such activities improve accessibility, and the ways in which such archival resources can expand and challenge accepted historical discourses. Columbia University was one of the top choices for my practicum due to its distinguished academic reputation, internationally renowned researchers and diverse library/archival collections. The hands on design of this practicum will allow me to develop my archival skills while contributing to the overall archival project Brigette is overseeing. While my program at the University of Alberta does not have a comprehensive archival specialization, I have taken the classes available and gained additional experience during the completion of my Masters dissertation in history in 2014. Its been a crazy journey to get here but I am excited about the opportunity and look forward to not only learning but contributing to the archival holdings of Burke Library
This practicum will fulfill the requirements of LIS 590, a course offered through the University of Alberta, Library and Information Studies faculty, that allows students the opportunity to travel abroad or within Canada to gain practical experience in various library institutions (public, academic, government), archives, and museums. As a result of a lack of archival course within my program, I welcomed the opportunity to travel to New York and gain hands on experience under a professional archivist. Throughout my undergrad and masters degrees I have been interested in history, historical documents and their ability to offer new insights into historical people, places and events. Within this context I am especially interested in the political manipulation, destruction and looting of archival collections in Africa.
The initial period of my placement will see me get acquainted with Burke Library, its staff and collections. Due to my lack of direct archival experience I will also be doing a number of readings to get me up to speed and to familiarize myself with any differences between Canadian and American archival practices. After this period I will begin my project as designed by Brigette. At the start of 2015, the Burke Library Archives were awarded a three year grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to arrange, describe and provide access to the Union Theological Seminary Archive. This is a continuation of the Burke’s association with the Henry Luce Foundation. Within this broad project I will work on the collection of Presbyterian minister and pastor James H. Ecob. This collection consists of thirty two letters from 1892-1894, the majority of which relate to Ecob’s decision to withdraw from the Presbyterian Church due to its Assembly’s verdict in the 1893 trial of Charles Augustus Briggs.