Hey again, I cannot believe my time here at the Burke Library is coming to a close so soon. These past three weeks have absolutely flown by and I have learned so much in such a relatively short period of time. I have greatly appreciated the friendly nature of the Burke Library staff who have been more than happy to answer any questions I have had and assist me when I have run into problems. Under the supervision of Brigette Kamsler I have been taught how to process archival materials from three different collections and am almost done my fourth and final one. I also had the opportunity to attend one of the Burke staff meetings which focused on a review of the Library’s CUL/IS disaster response policy. It was very interesting to see some of these policies put into practice firsthand the following day when a significant amount of rain water caused some flooding. In addition to this meeting I was also able to attend a lecture at the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library which focused on the archival preservation of architectural records and blueprints. The lecture centered on issues related to digital preservation, how designers can best preserve a record of their work and how archivists should acquire and shape legacies of contemporary architectural practices.
Brigette also conducted a small meeting where we discussed resumes, CVs, cover letters and job interviews. This was a very informative experience and I was able to get a lot of great suggestions on how to improve my job application resources and also create an online presence for future employers to evaluate. I hope to create my own Weebly page this summer in order to better articulate the skills I have developed throughout my academic career. Outside of my work on the finding aids, I also did some more rudimentary work, stamping folders and assessing the overall archival holdings for audiovisual materials. While these are totally different aspects of the overall archival process they are still important ones.
The two collections I completed finding aids for after James H. Ecob were the papers of two American pastors and theologians: Frederick John Foakes Jackson and Allen Macy Dulles. Both of these individuals had distinguished academic and pastoral careers. Dulles is also known for being the father of John Foster Dulles, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Secretary of State and Allen Welsh Dulles an American diplomat and lawyer who became the first civilian Director of Central Intelligence. The Jackson papers consisted of a broad range of biographical documents, correspondence and memorabilia including two large notebooks in relatively poor condition. As a result of this, I was taught by Brigette how to properly wrap them in acid free paper and bind them. Dulles’ papers were considerably smaller consisting of a number of papers on the history and nature of apologetic. I found the Jackson papers to be particularly interesting as they consisted of a very diverse range of documents including a Honorary Doctoral Degree, obituaries, correspondence with UTS Presidents Arthur Cushman McGiffert and Henry Sloane Coffin, and a Form of Solemnization of Matrimony. The correspondence in particular contains significant information about Jackson and his academic position at Union Theological Seminary. The letters written after his death depressingly reveal that he unintentionally left his wife destitute and without financial means to support herself. Currently I am finishing up my last finding aid for the papers of David Dudley Field, a pastor and local historian in Connecticut who lived in the 1800s. This collection is made up of 4 notebooks that will be individually wrapped for preservation purposes.
During my brief time here I have had the opportunity to meet a number of incredible people while also learning how to effectively evaluate, inventory, process and store archival documents. I also was instructed in how to write and edit finding aids, create finding aid entries using EAD, update MARC catalog records using Voyager and upload completed finding aids onto Columbia’s website as digital assets. I hope to take more courses and attend lectures related to cataloging and other aspects of archives in order to build upon the solid foundation of archival skills I have acquired under Brigette’s supervision. Overall I learned the value of attention to detail in order to ensure that the finding aids adhere to the proper format improving accessibility to the archival collections.
As someone with a strong interest in history and primary source documents this has been an amazing experience. I hope the skills I have developed here will open up further opportunities for archive employment. Finally I would like to thank everyone here at the Burke library especially staff members Matthew Baker, Beth Bidlack, Liz Ridout Miraglia, training coordinator Meredith Solomon my fellow interns Margaret Kaczorowski, and Katherine Palm and most importantly Brigette Kamsler for accepting me as an intern and providing assistance and advice throughout my time here. It has truly been an unforgettable experience. If anyone finds themselves near Edmonton, Alberta feel free to let me know, I will try and keep in touch and stop by next time I am in New York City!