Tuesday, August 31, 2010

day 46: finish line

I continued my search in the archives to find photographs that might be of use to Ashley. I went down to the archives and searched through the remaining boxes that held photographs from the Cherry Tree yearbooks. I quickly browsed through the remaining 12 boxes and discovered that they only held pictures of GW from the 1990s.

Since the Cherry Tree collection didn't hold materials for the years I needed I decided to start with the University Relations collection. Some of the images were scanned and uploaded digitally from this collection. They are searchable by year, which we happily discovered. The rest of the collection is unprocessed and kept on numerous shelves and boxes like the Cherry Tree collection. In order to avoid wasting time, I decided to do an initial browsing of this collection in the archives and select 5-10 boxes to bring back upstairs for a more thorough search. Of the first 12 boxes in this collection I pulled 7 boxes that might be beneficial. I filled out the proper slips and left them in the place of the boxes I had taken. The remainder of my time I spent searching through as many of the boxes as I could. Unfortunately I only made it through 3 boxes, but I found a lot of materials for Ashley to use! I flagged numerous photographs for her review and selection. I felt that even despite it being my last day I was able to help Ashley and direct her toward 4 more boxes that contain more materials she can use.

I realized today that Jen and Jenny had left me to work entirely on my own on projects, research, and collections for the SCRC for the past month. Every day I would check in with them, which would promptly be followed by a "you know what to do!" and I would get to work. Occasionally I had questions but mostly I was left to accomplish the work that was requested of me. Initially, when I needed to get more supplies or boxes from the archives Jen would walk downstairs with me and fill out the proper forms. The past month I've gone without her assistance or even without informing her first. I had an incredible experience at the SCRC and completed numerous projects that I'm very proud of. The Riggs family papers are a unique collection that I am very excited to say I completed in its entirety on my own. Jen told me it's not often they get a collection like the Riggs family papers donated and available for processing for interns. I feel incredibly lucky and I enjoyed every minute!

I was happy and sad to leave today. Happy because I had finished over 160 hours of hard work; where I learned an immense amount from everyone at the SCRC that helped me toward my goal of becoming an archivist. Sad because I was done working with them and doing what I love with materials from history and it is back to classes and homework! I am excited to use everything I have learned during the past few months toward my archivist future.

Monday, August 30, 2010

day 45: boxes, boxes, everywhere

Today Ashley requested I search through the archives for images to use during the alumni event. She suggested the Cherry Tree year book pictures, which is an unprocessed, unorganized, multiple shelved box filled collection. I now understand why she feels a little overwhelmed about this project. It's going to take a while to search through each box to find pictures pertaining to 1956-1960.

It took me a while to find the boxes that contained the Cherry Tree year book pictures in the archives and I grabbed 5 boxes to start searching through. I was able to find a few basketball related items from 1956-1960 in one of the boxes. I flagged them for Ashley to review and potentially scan to use for the alumni event. I went through all 5 boxes today and was disappointed in the few pictures, programs that I found. Tomorrow is my last day at the SCRC and I hope to be able to find more materials that will be useful for Ashley.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

day 44: old school technology

I spent today searching through microfilm for the Hatchet from 1957-58. The microfilm reader they have at the SCRC is old but really neat. It's attached to a scanner and a printer. So when I found an article of interest all I had to do was make sure the image was aligned within the box and in focus on the viewer and push 'print'. Instantly I had a printed copy. I highlighted the article of interest per each page and placed them in chronological order. Once I finished I had a pretty thick pile of articles. Ashley will then go through what I found and select specific pages that she will want to use at the alumni event and scan the original copy for use.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

day 43: class of 1960

I found a few more items before arranging everything in chronological order to hand in to Jenny. She was pleased and stated it was a great starting point they would use and reference until they figure out how and what exactly they had intended for the list.

Jenny had a new project for me to work on for the remaining time of my internship. Ashley is working on a project for alumni from the graduating class of 1960. In October, GW alumni will be attending the campus for their 50th reunion. She is responsible for gathering materials and information from 1956-1960 (the years they attended the university) for various presentations, booths, and slide shows. Ashley requested my help finding anything relevant in the archives.

She directed me first to a campus newspaper the Hatchet. I was given the option to search through the physical copies of the Hatchet from 1956-57 or use microfilm to find relevant and interesting articles. Normally I prefer working with actual documents, but I had never worked with microfilm before and decided today was the time to learn! It was really simple and significantly more efficient. After finding the box containing microfilm of the Hatchet, I easily loaded up the film and began my search through the newspaper. One article I found Ashley was thrilled with. There was a piece about the increase in the price of coffee from 5 cents to 8 cents per cup. Oh the ridiculousness of the cost of coffee in 1957!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

day 42: marco polo

I researched more materials related to GW and added it to my list. I had about 2 pages of data before I brought it to Jenny to review and get her opinion. Since the project was a new idea, she wasn't looking for anything specific. She was thrilled with what I had thus far and encouraged me to continue and add more items to the list. She suggested I add a column in order to provide more details to the listings of collection titles containing numerous items that I felt would be beneficial for the SCRC to use for future events.

I went back through what I had thus far and added more details from AT. Afterward, I continued to search through AT for more items to add.

Monday, August 23, 2010

day 41: where's waldo?

Jen had another research request for me this afternoon. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any information for the student. But I did use the alumni directory for GW, researched in AT, and utilized the Foggy Bottom Historical Encyclopedia, which is a new resource I learned about. It's a compilation of various institutions finding aids that researchers can use to receive more potential search results from one location.

Once I finished the research request, I did more research on GW through AT for my project. I added what I found today to my excel spreadsheet and reorganized the data chronologically. I have over a page of neat artifacts listed so far, but I'm still trying to figure out the best approach or method for finding more useful information from the archives for the SCRC.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

day 40: what a mess

Using the list of key words of events, people, etc. of GW that I made yesterday, I searched through various collections, folders, and notes within AT. If I found something that I thought might be interesting or useful I pasted the information into an excel spreadsheet in a chaotic mess of information.

Items such as old uniforms, trophy's, buttons, fliers, and photographs I put on my list. It's taking a lot of patience to find relevant information. I'm having a hard time figuring out what certain listings are, like if it's a piece of paper or papers or photos or?, in order to determine if it should be added to my list. I mostly added memorabilia to my list today because they were easier to search for in AT.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

day 39: searching

Jenny and Jen gave me a new project to work on for the next few days. In an attempt to prepare for future events on GW campus for students and alumni, they requested I search through AT and look for memorabilia, documents, and photographs that would be of interest or relevance to these events. It's incredibly vague and broad. Search through our vast collections and make a list of dates, the item/object/document, and its location for some future event based on any topic that doesn't exist yet.

I decided I should probably learn more about the history of GW before searching through the depths of AT. Through the Gelman library website at GW there is an online encyclopedia that details various events and people in GWs history. I spent the day reading through the various topics and taking notes on key words and events that I should use and search for in AT.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

day 38: and now for something completely different

Jen reviewed the last two collections I entered and found only one tiny aspect that needed to be changed. There were two Betacam's in one of the collections and I had listed them as such in AT and not as a folder, which was correct. However, I continued the numbers in the box for the tapes. So I had folders 1,2,3, and then I wrote Betacam 3, and 4. I learned that this implies there should be 2 other tapes if I numbered them 3 and 4. You can have numerous instances of 1 in a box, they just have to be different types, like a folder, object, tape, etc. So I renumbered them 1 and 2.

Today I received my first research request. It required me to search through alumni records of George Washington University (previously known as Columbian College) from the late 1800s and to search through old handwritten, giant ledgers that listed student registration from 1873-1898, student records from 1881-1892, student registration: dental dept 1887-1903, and student registration: law school 1888-1898. I only selected the ones that were within the date range requested by the researcher. Despite all my searching I only found some of the information that was requested.

Once I had finished researching I used the SPEC staff WIKI to export one of the two collections I completed of Mount Vernon College from AT to EAD. I completed one XML file and was able to view it successfully in Firefox. I don't have the permissions to upload the completed file to the website, but will meet with Jen tomorrow to review the EAD process and discuss my research.

Monday, August 16, 2010

day 37: another one bites the dust

I finished entering my third complete collection in AT today. It was the same process I had been doing for the previous collections. I labeled and completed each box and informed Jen that I was finished and ready for her to review my work.

Jen and Jenny decided that it was time for me to do something different, so tomorrow I will have new projects!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

day 36: looking good

I finished processing the collection today. There were a lot of pictures from the 1996 winter formal that were interesting to look through. I could definitely tell that the girls were products of the 1990s. I remember wearing the dresses and hairstyles the girls had selected. It was really fun to process. I ended the collection with 2 Betacam tapes that perfectly fit into a slim document box.

This collection contains records from the Office of Student Activities at Mount Vernon College. A lot of it was pretty neat; there were packets from orientations, commencement information, events, student groups, and school newspapers. I used this in the scope notes that I typed up for the AT entry. I used a lot of the same information from the last collection but modified specifics like dates, contents, and historical background. I like seeing everything I've processed into neat and orderly folders and boxes. The best part is knowing that hopefully someday a researcher will be able to use the collection that I took great care organizing and processing.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

day 35: finding ways to make it interesting

I finished one box and got started on the second. There wasn't anything too exciting until I found an old lotus notes training floppy disc. It was old school. Luckily, Jen and I decided that we didn't need to keep this floppy because it didn't hold any information about Mount Vernon College. I had forgotten about that consideration when it comes to processing collections. I also discovered a CD-ROM that was just a slide show of information about why all girls schools are beneficial, also not needed to be kept in the collection.

I almost finished processing the second box that was overflowing with folders. I should be able to finish processing this collection this week and start entering the data in AT next week. I'm just moving along!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

day 34: folder-ing, folder-ing

Today I worked on processing the two boxes from this second collection. I prearranged everything so it was a simple process, just a little tedious. I check each existing folder for a label or title, review the documents and come up with a relevant title for the new folder to be placed in the collection. I almost finished one of the boxes; I'm getting pretty good at this!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

day 33: organized paper chaos

This morning Jen exported and uploaded the updated finding aid for the Riggs family papers. It's exciting to see all the work that I completed and realize the amount that I've accomplished and learned since March. It was even more exciting to know that I can continue to apply this knowledge to more collections. Jen reviewed my work from yesterday and only had three changes. She first suggested I move around the order of my topics in the historical note; to list the most pertinent information about the Student Government Association first. Second, I hadn't filled in the information for the finding aid tab in AT and she directed me to that section in the Wiki, which was very simple. Third, she directed me to the section in the Wiki about adding names and subjects to the entry that are related to the collection. This section holds words that researchers may search for and help provide accurate search results. She had added Mount Vernon College and the Student Government Association for me, but showed me where and how I can add them myself for the next collection I work on. But otherwise she was impressed and pleased with my work.

I started organizing the second collection Jenny had pulled from Mount Vernon College. I made an organized mess in the office before I started processing the records. Since it's only 2 boxes, I can easily move around all the folders and arrange the order before processing. There is significantly more within these two boxes than in the last two. It still shouldn't take a long time to process, but it will be longer than the last set I completed. This picture is what one of the boxes looked like after I organized its contents. Afterward, I started transferring and labeling the records into new folders and boxes.

I was also inadvertently complimented today. We have folders that aren't marked with guides for folding, which makes creasing more interesting. Since we can't get new folders until we use all of these I decided to use as many as possible to get rid of them! I've developed a pretty simple system for creating creases, just by using the edge of the folder as a guide and forcing the crease. I vary sizes depending on how many documents I have per folder but it's always straight since I'm using the folder as a guide. Jen told Chris that I had a really good system and that he should ask me how I manage with these unmarked folders. I felt pretty talented, even for something as simple as creasing a folder. A long time archivist needed my help :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

day 32: all by myself

Today I wrote scope notes for the first set of the Mount Vernon collection I finished processing yesterday. Once I finished writing all the details that pertained to the collection I created a new entry in AT and entered in what I wrote. There were only 5 boxes of folders so I was able to enter the entire collection into AT and label all the folders in one day. I completed the entire process without any assistance from Jen and only had to refer to the online Wiki twice. When I entered information into AT for the Riggs family papers, the collection already existed. All I had to do was add information to be included in existing the finding aid. The Mount Vernon records was my first original collection that I completed in its entirety.

Monday, August 2, 2010

day 31: marching on

Jenny told me today that she used one of my blog entries at a meeting. Her and Jen were both excited about it and proud to show off my work, which is great!

I finished processing the Mount Vernon Student Government Association collection. The 5 boxes are ready to be labeled and entered into AT.

There wasn't a computer available today as the SCRC was bustling with its full staff, so I decided to begin a box survey for the second collection Jenny pulled from the Mount Vernon collection. There are a lot more files in one box than there were in the combined two boxes for the collection I just finished. It's going to take some time and patience to process. There are also 2 betacamSP tapes and a CD that I have to figure out how to process.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

day 30: accomplished

Today I finished processing my very first collection!!

Jen and I went to the 2nd floor to get more supplies for processing the glass plate negatives, to find a spot for the one artifact I had to process, and find a place to store a landscape photograph of Elisha Riggs infantry at Fort Riley in 1812. Months ago when I had pulled boxes from the first collection to get an idea of how to store books and daguerreotypes, I noticed that there were little cubbyholes for objects and picture frames in a few boxes. She had stacked layers of slim boxes with dividers and I hoped that I would be able to find a box that had an open spot for the one ornate smoking pipe I needed to process. We grabbed supplies, box 23 from the first collection, and decided the photograph was too long to be stored in one of the map drawers. Jen suggested that since I'm crafty I should find a way to extend the oversize box to fit the landscape picture folded.

I decided to process the smoking pipe first, thinking it wouldn't take me much time. The cubbyholes weren't numbered in the box so I used my printed finding aid to number the items before placing the pipe. However, I noticed that some items weren't in box 23 and one item that was listed as being in the box wasn't accounted for. I decided to check my printed list against AT and found the my printed finding aid was not what was listed in AT! Well that explained a lot. AT had problems though too. I relabeled all the cubbyholes (there were 29 total) and found a place for the pipe. However I found in AT that "long pipe" was entered 3 times, when there was only 1 long pipe in the entire box, and 2 of the entries in AT were identical and said "long pipe, box 23/item 6". The item that was in cubbyhole 6 was actually an old pair of binoculars. I changed one entry from long pipe to binoculars and kept it at number 6. The duplicate entry I adjusted to record the ornate pipe from my collection that I needed to process in number 29. Everything in box 23 is now officially accounted for and accurately recorded in AT. I explained everything to Jen and she approved of my actions. I feel very accomplished - I love this internship!

Next I decided to finish processing the glass plate negatives. Same process as yesterday, I have 3 slim boxes and 1 flat box for the plates that are either cracked or broken. I entered them into AT and printed labels for each box.

I ended the day reconstructing the over sized box for the landscape portrait.

The entire collection is officially processed. Next we will update the finding aid, which I will link here too.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

day 29: you've got mail

The supplies have arrived! Everything that I was waiting for in order to complete processing the Riggs family papers was ready and waiting for me today. I temporarily put the Mount Vernon collection on hold while I worked on finishing the rest of the Riggs collection.

First I transferred the over sized folders into the correct sized box. I finished labeling each folder and entered the information into Archivists' Toolkit and printed out and attached the label to the box.

Next, I started working out how I would process the glass plate negatives. I discovered it wasn't practical to label the outside envelope because the material was too soft. Instead I labeled the 4 flap envelopes after the glass plate was covered before sliding them carefully inside the outer envelope. I started putting the plates into slim boxes with cardboard sheets to separate each one. As I was carefully stacking them inside the boxes I also entered them into Archivists' Toolkit. It seemed more efficient to do multiple steps at once. I did take my time because I was working on so many aspects of processing at once. I didn't want to enter in duplicate or incorrect data.

I think I should be able to complete everything for the Riggs family papers by tomorrow afternoon, which will be very exciting!

day 29: illustrated version

While I was carefully processing each glass plate negative I decided I would take a few pictures to share. I'm going to try to take better ones tomorrow to see if I can remove the glare and get a better view of the negative, but for now these are what I have!

This is the basic layout of the 4 flap envelope. There were 3 different sized glass plates, this was the 8x10. I used white gloves that make me feel like Michael Jackson when I handle the glass.

This is a portrait of Elisha Riggs, circa 1800s. You can't really see any details in this picture.

You can see a little bit more of his face from the reflection.

This is a portrait of Alice Lawrason Riggs.

Hopefully I can take some better pictures tomorrow, but these are some examples of what I got to process and admire today :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

day 28: bitty collection

I typed up my processing plan and went to Jenny for approval (Jen was out today). Jenny said that it looked good and I could start processing the collection.

I completed processing one of the two boxes today. It was much easier than the Riggs family collection. All I had to do was remove documents from binders and place them into folders. This collection is also different because it is so small that it doesn't have any series. I learned that I am arranging it on the collection level. This requires significantly less writing of labels on each folder.

I'm excited to be able to finish multiple collections during my internship. This will allow me to hone down on my processing skills!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

day 27: to the point

Today I finished reading the rest of the Dear Daughter's book. I was disappointed with the last half of the book. It wasn't as detailed or personalized with letters and stories from students. It felt rather rushed once Nina Mikhalevsky began discussing events on the Mount Vernon campus from the 1960s. Despite this, the book was incredibly informative and interesting

Once I finished the book I filled the remainder of my day creating a processing plan for the collection. It should be pretty straight forward and quick to process. Once Jen approves of my plan I'll start re-foldering and organizing the documents from the Student Government Association.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

day 26: in with the new

Jenny pulled 4 boxes of unprocessed materials from a different collection for me to start processing since the Riggs collection is temporarily on hold while I wait for supplies. These new boxes are from the Mount Vernon College and Seminary. The collection is divided into 2 separate sets of 2 boxes. The set I started with was documents from the Student Government Association at Mount Vernon College.

I decided to run a box survey through the two boxes first. The collection includes meeting notes, receipts, phone and member lists, documents pertaining to planning events at the school, and other similar papers. They range from years 1982 - 1996. I briefly examined the documents and made notes in my survey, which I'll refer to once I'm ready to begin setting up my processing plan. It shouldn't be too difficult since the collection seems pretty straight forward. I'm excited to handle this collection on my own and am hoping to ask for as little help as possible from Jen.

Jen suggested that I research the history of the school and I decided that once I finished reviewing the materials in the boxes that I would. I started reading a book titled Dear Daughters: A History of Mount Vernon Seminary and College by Nina Mikhalevsky. It's a comprehensive account of the history of the school from its inception in the late 1860s and discusses the transformations and growth of the school throughout its tenure. It's a really interesting book as it includes numerous pictures and personal accounts of girls that attended the school.

My reading and research will help me write a detailed account on the history of the school for researchers when I create the finding aid for the collection. I still have a lot to review from the book and other sources before processing. I think researching the topic that's being archived is really important. It has completely altered my perception of this collection. Initially I was like, how boring! Numerous binders filled with boring papers about events, money, and the college, ugh. After reading only half of the 2-300 page book I feel a lot more connected and invested in this tiny collection. Its made me want to be a part of this woman's college that was unique and exceptional for its time. It was founded in 1875 and initially run entirely by Elizabeth Somers. It attracted girls from all over the United States and abroad, including girls from China and India. The establishment of this successful and highly regarded institution that focused entirely on the education of females was an amazing accomplishment. To help put this era in perspective, this school was created ten years after the end of the Civil War in America. I now have incredible enthusiasm for assisting in the preservation of these documents and the memory of this institution.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

day 25: as far as I can go

I finished absolutely everything that I can do for the Riggs collection, for now. I printed labels and placed them on the 29 boxes and they look beautiful. All I have to do is wait for the supplies for the glass plate negatives and over sized folders before I will be completely finished with the entire collection!

I also wrote up a blog for the SCRC that Jenny will post with the finding aid once it's entirely finished and ready for use. It's more informative than fun writing but I will link that once it's up!

Next week I will get to start the process all over again on a new collection. So we will see how much I've learned and how much I remember!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

day 24: that was fast!

Today I finished entering the boxes for all three series into AT. It took significantly less time than I was expecting! I am still waiting for the supplies to arrive for processing the glass plate negatives and an oversize flat box for about fifteen oversize pictures that I have currently in folders. I wrote collection labels onto the folders, so now all they need is a home! Once everything arrives I can finish the entire collection and enter them into AT as well. I have added barcodes to every box too and I am ready for the next step. I think it is creating labels for the boxes, but Jen will instruct me tomorrow!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

day 23: repetitive behavior

Entering information from the collection into AT is going faster than I expected. I finished inputting data for series 3 subseries 1 (which consists of 13 boxes) and finished 2 of 3 boxes for series 3 subseries 2. I think I will be finished with entering data within the next week or two.

Jen ordered supplies for the glass plate negatives Tuesday afternoon. Hopefully everything will arrive before I finish working in AT. I'd like to have all the boxes for series 1 be as sequential as possible. I know the numerical order doesn't matter as much but it would make arranging the data for the finding aid much easier.

I wasn't expecting to finish processing the Riggs Family collection so quickly! It's exciting as I get to see how 10 boxes of jumbled documents and artifacts become an organized collection of numerous boxes. I'm 80 hours into my internship which means I'm half way done with my time at the SCRC. I can't believe so much time has already passed! I look forward to completing this collection and seeing what else they have in store for me!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

day 22: database monkey

Today Jen taught me how to use rapid data entry in Archivists' Toolkit. This option is incredibly useful and a huge time saver. It allows me to "sticky" certain fields which saves the information in that field for an unlimited amount of time. I decide when the information changes and how. Every time I select +1 there are only a few options I have to change and it goes quickly.

I'm going to be entering a lot of data for a while. I managed to enter 7 boxes that each contain 60-70 folders. The reason I was able to enter so many in a short period of time was because the folders were already numbered. I have ten boxes that are numbered and all the rest are not. I think it'll be a nice break however. My eyes were getting tired from looking back and forth from the box and folders to the monitor. It'll be welcomed to write box and folder numbers on each before having to enter it into AT. I'm looking forward to learning more about this application as I continue to use it for the collection.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

day 21: new software

Today I finished processing everything in the Riggs collection except a smoking pipe and the glass plate negatives. Jen is going to order the supplies in July and I will be able to process them then. I ventured down to the 2nd floor archives to search for the remaining supplies I needed. I am very proud of all the work I have accomplished with this collection.

Since everything I have is now all boxed up; the next step is to enter the data into Archivists' Toolkit. I read through the SCRC Wiki which had a brief guide to using the software. Jen created my account for access and guided me through the process. I only created the subseries and details in preparation for the next step. I entered the date range for each, scope and notes, and arrangement method. I think that it looks good! Jen is going to review the few steps I took today and tomorrow she will show me how to add information specific to each subseries.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

day 20: crafty

Jen reviewed my scope notes and made a few comments and grammatical changes. I updated my copy and saved it for when I begin entering information about the collection into Archivists' Toolkit. In the staff Wiki it references chapter numbers in the DACS and I asked Jen which book these referenced. I feel that the Wiki notes for writing scope notes could use more explanation, but I think if I had read the chapter it referenced before writing my notes it would've been a bit easier. Jen showed me where the DACS by the SAA is kept and I started reading through chapter 3 about scope notes until Katie (student working at the SCRC) was available to instruct me on how to build phase boxes.

Katie and I went down to the second floor into the archives to use the supplies needed to build the phase boxes. A phase box works as a protective shell for items that are fragile. From the Riggs collection I had 9 books that needed to be boxed. They ranged from diaries from the early 1900s and personal accounting books from the late 1800s. The accounting books were significantly fragile and required a lot more time and patience to box.

Katie showed me how to make one phase box and then observed while I created one on my own. Afterward she set me free and I finished the rest without assistance. It's really not difficult as it's not an exact science or measurement. I used heavy card stock as the box that folded separately around the length and width of each book. Velcro is used to secure the neat little package. Some of the books had tags attached to them that described what they were and I wrote the descriptions along each phase box.

I felt like I was wrapping presents for Christmas. It was exciting to get to work on something that was creative. When I finished I was proud to show off my box filled with phase boxed books to Jen and others at the SCRC.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

day 19: the informant

I share an office with a woman who works part-time for the SCRC. We both have numerous boxes scattered around and on top of every free space we can find. Today I noticed she had numerous boxes of cassette tapes and stacks of 1" reel to reel video tapes. I asked Jen about how they approach processing these mediums. Last semester we had a speaker from the Smithsonian present in my archives class about the methods, time, and cost of updating the data to current technology, so I was curious about their approach. She said that currently they don't have the technology to transfer or upload the tapes digitally. They're hoping that in the near future they will have the ability to transfer cassette tapes to digital files. Otherwise, they process medias like these as any other item or document. Box it, folder it, and hope that they can digitize it at some point in the future. It's really difficult for a small institution like the SCRC to get the equipment and funds needed for such projects and a little disappointing to know that at this time there isn't much that can be done.

I spent the rest of the day updating the finding aid with more information about the collection. I did a lot of research to include more information that would be helpful for researchers about the Riggs family. I sent my rough draft to Jen before I left this evening for her to review and make suggestions.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

day 18: for the finding aid

Today I began preparing the collection scope and content notes for the guide to the Riggs Family papers. I referenced the Special Collections Staff Wiki which was created by the staff at the SCRC for assistance and reference for interns and employees.

Also using the existing guide to the Riggs Family papers, I started a rough draft of the abstract, collection scope and content, and collection inventory for the collection I've been processing during the past few months. I'm more than half way done with my rough draft. I have to finish describing the subseries of series 3. I tried finding an example of a finding aid that included a subseries to reference but so far haven't found one. Most of the collections I have been selecting from the SCRC website have been small and wouldn't require a subseries, but I will ask Jen tomorrow for an example.

I've found that a lot of the information is repeated throughout the finding aid, which according to the Wiki is on purpose. I'm not entirely sure why information is presented numerous times throughout one finding aid, but I'd imagine it would be helpful for researchers to continue reading forward and not have to reference previous pages or take notes on the finding aid. It should be a helpful tool and not an additional item to research.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

day 17: watch me organize

I finished organizing the rest of the pictures and moved onto the most interesting part of the series - glass plate negatives. There are about 40 glass plate negatives that range in size from 4x6, 5x7, and 8x10 that have images of the Riggs family from the early to mid 1800s. They include individual portraits, large groups, and landscapes.

Today I investigated the best methods for processing these fragile negatives. Out of 40 only 4 are cracked or broken. For the majority that are intact Jen will order four-flap envelopes and envelopes to contain them. For the glass that is broken I discovered the best method to process them would be creating a "sink mat". In my research of this method I discovered how complex and involved this process is. It requires a lot of additional materials. Since there are only 4 broken plates, Jen and I decided to process them the same as the intact plates but store them flat instead of on its side. In the finding aid we will also denote the plates in the specific box are broken for researchers to take special care.

Jen will order the supplies I need for the glass plate negatives in July so I can process the plates once everything arrives.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

day 16: photos for hire

Since I won't be able to make phase boxes until Thursday, I decided to leave series 3 until then and start working on series 1. Series 1 contains photographs and albums from the early 1900s and during World War II. I measured the large albums and matte prints in order to use the best size box and folder for processing.

Jen and I ventured downstairs to explore the archives and look for new boxes to use. We found a good haul and brought them back upstairs. I lined each box with tissue paper before placing an album inside each box. I placed each large matted picture in its own folder that will eventually be placed in a flat box (more have to be ordered). The photographs that I placed in photo sleeves last Thursday I processed into folders and boxes.

On my way into the SCRC this afternoon I noticed there were multiple researchers using various collections in the reading room. During my internship this spring there hadn't been anyone in the room, which I felt discouraged by. I had envisioned archives being a place where many researchers would want to utilize the collections. However, this summer the room has been bustling with many researchers every day! It's exciting to see the documents and work that other archivists had spent the time to organize and process being used and referenced.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

day 15: take my picture, click click click!

The other female intern wasn't in at the same time as me today, so instead I found other work to do. I decided to start processing photographs. I grabbed my little box of single photo sleeves sizes 4x5 and 5x7 and went to work. It took me all afternoon to process two groups of photos.

They were pictures taken by John Beverley Riggs. The first set was from his tour in Okinawa, Japan during World War II in 1945. He labeled most of his pictures, which added so much to the collection. There were pictures of him with fellow soldiers and John Beverley included their names and hometowns on the back, as well as landmarks around Okinawa. The second set of pictures was from a trip to the Caribbean in 1948. He labeled all these pictures as well. They were very interesting and Jen suggested we might scan and upload a selection of pictures to the SCRC website once I finish the collection since the pictures are so informative and prevalent to our history.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

day14: the end is near

Today I finished processing all the paper documents in the collection. I collected my box of random items and requested Jen's assistance. We decided the placement and storage needs of various documents such as pamphlets, news clippings, and diaries. The oldest diary I found was kept during 1878. A few of the bindings were deteriorating, which I left unprocessed because they require further attention and care. There are numerous diaries and accounting books that are very old and fragile that need to be housed in a phase box before being processed. Jen decided that she would arrange for another intern experienced with creating phase boxes for the initial Riggs Family papers donation instruct me. I organized the remaining items and boxes in preparation for completion.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

day 13: uneventful

I continued working through organizing documents from the last box of papers today. It's almost empty! Most of what I have left is random documents that I'm working on figuring out their placement.

When I run out of room in my folder organizer, I take that time to fill more boxes and put the folders in order. Since I removed Travel as a subseries, I also decided to reorganize subseries numbers and adjusted the folders accordingly. I've almost completely filled 4 shelves with boxes and boxes of Riggs Family papers. Most of the boxes and folders are unnumbered, which allows me flexibility to finalize the organization of the collection.

Today was more of the same, nothing entirely new. Just a continuation of processing documents that was less interesting to browse.

Friday, June 4, 2010

day 12: these are the documents that never end

Today I continued reviewing the folders and documents inside the final two boxes. I completed most of the first box, with the exception of a few items I have questions about. I have been compiling a small box of books, pictures, and documents that I'm not sure how to process or where to include within the series. When I finish processing the majority of documents, my plan is to bring the box to Jen in order to review the items inside and discuss various options with her. I figure asking her all at once will take up less of her time and make it simpler for me to receive help.

Occasionally I ask questions along the way. Today I came across an envelope that I could read about 90% of the heading. The handwriting on the envelope grew progressively worse as the person was writing so that by the end, I had no idea what the documents were used for. I knew they were deeds to land and to which land. However, I couldn't read the what these were used for. I brought it to Jen's attention. I know that down the road I will encounter more documents that I will not be able to read and I wanted to hear her suggestions.

Jen said that often it is difficult to read handwriting, especially from older documents. She suggested I make a photocopy of the envelope and include it in the folder with the documents. We created a brief title for the folder stating "Deeds referenced for research" and I made a note on the folder to include notes in the finding aid about the legibility issue I encountered and a copy of the front of the envelope. That way I'm not taking anything away from the documents in the collection and maintaining the preservation of the collection.

Jen also informed me there is a local workshop being offered that will instruct how to read/decipher handwriting from old documents. It sounds really interesting! These are classes I hope to investigate and enroll in once I obtain my Masters degree.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

day 11: it continues

Today I discovered that I had only two boxes of documents from the Riggs Family papers left to sort. Of course these boxes had the most numerous and varied documents which means they will take the most time and consideration to process. Initially Jen and I had discussed processing each box as they were already organized. Just simply re-folder and box the documents. However, we realized continuing a series outside of the subseries would be really messy in the finding aid and confusing for researchers. Instead, we decided that I would keep each folder organized as it was given to us but separate each folder within corresponding subseries. I spent the remainder of today reviewing each folder and determining the placement of each.

Initially I had suggested 5 subseries within the Paper documents series for the Riggs Family papers: Correspondences, Travel, Diaries, Personal Billing, and Publications and Research. With only 2 boxes left, I realized there was only one legal sized folder that contained all the travel documents I had found thus far. One folder is not nearly enough for its own subseries and box. I decided to remove Travel as a category and included the folder in personal billing. I now have 4 subseries and I informed Jen of my findings and alteration to my processing plan. She agreed with my idea and I am very pleased!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

day 10: sorting

Today I picked a box and started separating the documents that were mixed around inside. In one box I found documents that fulfilled three of the subseries categories that I had determined for the collection; travel, publications and research, and personal business. I flattened the papers and created three piles. After I finished organizing, I labeled folders and transferred the material to archival boxes. I have a few more items left in the box that I need further direction from Jen before processing.

I think the trickiest part of today was determining the folder titles. Some of the documents were easily grouped together as the donation had been previously, although quickly, arranged and labeled. I used the labels provided but occasionally added more detail, such as date and author/family member it pertained to. I need to be more confident in my work and I think after reviewing what I did today with Jen will assist in building my confidence as an archivist.

Friday, May 28, 2010

day 09: moving along

I finished processing Thomas Riggs Jr letters from during and after WWII. While transferring letters into folders I found a Christmas list from Thomas. It read:

"Dear Santa:
gem razor blades
a picture of a monkey
the ears of Adolf

Just more entertaining humor from Tommy. I was sad to finish his letters so quickly, but there weren't nearly as many correspondences as John Beverley had. Overall, I had completed two boxes of the ten. Within the remaining eight boxes were correspondences that I had included in these two parts, so I am slowly working down all the boxes in this collection.

The next and what I hope is the final group of correspondences that I will have to process was a group of letters and calling cards sent to Renee Riggs and her children Lisette and Thomas Jr from friends and family expressing their condolences in the passing of their husband and father, Thomas Christmas Riggs.

Fun fact: Thomas Riggs was Governor of Alaska from 1918-21.

I processed these letters pretty quickly and moved onto planning the next subseries for processing in this collection. Most of what's left in the eight boxes is mixed up, so it's going to take a bunch of organizing and sorting before I can place everything into boxes and folders. I decided this was a good stopping point before the long holiday weekend!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

day 08: tommy boy

While rummaging through Tommy Riggs' letters I found numerous photographs and negatives. There were groups of pictures of Tommy and of his campaign in Africa during WWII. I did not want to place them within a group of documents without protection from other elements. Jen and I wandered down to the second floor and found a box of clear photo sleeves for me to use. I had two sizes, 4x5 and 5x7. I carefully placed each negative and photo in a protective shell. I found that I would process this box significantly faster than the last set of correspondences. I have one folder of letters left to organize into folders and boxes before I am done. Significantly less time!

I enjoy skimming through some of the letters and uncovering Tommy's humor and his perception on the events and life he was led to live. I wanted to share an excerpt from one of the numerous letters that caused me to chuckle.

A little background, Tommy wrote a letter to his father responding to his account of Tommy's sister Lisette's wedding: "It certainly must have been a first class spree, and I take it unkindly that you should wait till I am half way around the world to dig in for the champagne. However, there was a blot on the paper which you had labeled champagne, and I have been sleeping with that under my pillow to see if I will get any effects. None so far."

I also enjoy when he requested items that he needed and wanted to be sent to him from home he would state "gimme, gimme, gimme" at the end of each list. It is so simple and humorous for a grown adult to write something so childish.

Each consecutive day of my internship is my favorite personal discovery and learning experience.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

day 07: and then

I finished processing John Beverley Riggs correspondences today. There are now many boxes with many folders - look at how many there are! I did that :)

There were only six folders that I had to place out of order in the boxes, but will be denoted in the finding aid. I attached a note to the first box so that when I enter everything into Archivist Toolkit I will have all the details I need to include.

The next part of the collection that I started processing was letters from Thomas Riggs Jr, John Beverley Riggs' cousin. Endearingly called Tommy, he traveled with the army to various locations. So far, I've seen letters and photographs from Africa, Ireland, and the United States. Jen and I decided this box would be processed differently from J.B. Riggs' letters. Tommy's letters had previously been arranged in overflowing folders. Instead of filing each one in an individual folder, multiple letters will be placed in folders and numbered as a part of a series. Tommy had a great sense of humor that is reflected throughout his letters. I'm looking forward to processing the rest of this box.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

day 06: i can see the light

I finished the last stack of letters I had and began rummaging through the boxes again in search of more letters. Of course, I found a large pile in one of the boxes and I returned to processing them. I think I have finally finished processing all the personal correspondences of John Beverley Riggs. Well, at least all the letters that was dated. I haven't decided how to process the undated letters yet. I'm not sure if I should put them all in one folder or put each one in its own folder. Individual folders would keep it consistent with the rest of the subseries, so that's probably the best idea.

I also added and organized the folders I processed yesterday into numerous boxes. I will have to renumber a few folders, but it isn't as bad as I had initially feared. I'm really excited to have this part of the collection processed and ready for the next step, which I'm actually not entirely sure what that step is. I still have a few more days of putting finishing touches on these correspondences, but I feel very good about what I have accomplished thus far and look forward to learning the next steps in archiving the Riggs Family papers.

Monday, May 24, 2010

day 05: lmnop

I started today where I left off on Friday; processing more letters to John Beverley Riggs. They ranged from 1945 to 1972. It was a little repetitive but luckily, most of these letters were interesting. I enjoy reading the different language styles and the observations made by people during the 1940s and 50s. I still have a small stack left to process before I go back to my box survey and find more letters to process. I currently have at least 100 folders organized to place into boxes and arrange chronologically. I think that tomorrow I will organize some of the letters that I've processed so far, before I find more to add. The entire process is taking longer than I had expected. I've only processed personal correspondences so far which has been slightly difficult. Eventually I will have to figure out how to include and process business related letters in the subseries as well.

Friday, May 21, 2010

day 04: new processing

Since I had decided to use Jen's suggested method for processing, the order of correspondences before processing was insignificant. Previously I had organized the letters chronologically before processing them and now I decided to organize them after I completed placing each letter in a folder. I moved folders around and organized numerous letters written by John Beverley Riggs from between the years 1942 to 1945. I had a few minutes left and started processing letters to J.B. Riggs from 1950. I discovered that I preferred this method of organization leaving the numbering process until the end. It will allow for a lot of flexibility while working through the rest of the collection.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

day 03: ideas

Over the past few days, I considered numerous options, but was most looking forward to hearing the ideas that Jen would offer me. I told Jen that I hadn't realized/considered/remembered the extent of correspondences in the collection. Having examined each box, I was frustrated that I didn't think to include or search more than the two boxes that were only filled with letters. She reminded me that the purpose of the internship is to learn, and that in the processing stage anything can change.

We discussed a collection that she is also currently processing. There are significantly more boxes in this collection that she divided into general categories. What she has found is that there is an occasional overlap of topics in some of the boxes. In order to process everything and not have to erase and renumber folders and boxes, she labels each folder with basic information. So each folder includes the collection number, series number, subseries number, and the words box and folder, without a number. This way, she can reorganize folders and boxes as seems fit with the collection. Afterward she returns and numbers each box and folder once organization is seemingly complete. This idea is the best idea, and I found my enthusiasm and felt my frustration melt away. Although I had already processed and numbered around 300 folders Jen also informed me there are numerous options that won't require me to renumber everything. Depending on the number of letters in the collection that were written before 1942 and before 1946, there are numerous options for processing and presenting the collection in the finding aid. It isn't important that the physical collection is in exact order, but that researchers understand how and where to find the information they desire.

In learning this, I went back to my box surveys and selected two boxes that I had listed as containing letters. I pulled out numerous letters and stacked them. Unfortunately these letters were kept in boxes that were filled with dust, dirt, and dead bugs. I pulled and cleaned off the letters and placed them inside another box that was significantly cleaner. I spent the rest of the day pulling and cleaning letters from these two boxes. I've been using a document cleaning pad by Lineco to clean the dust, dirt, mold, and dried tiny bugs. It works amazingly well! Tomorrow I will be ready to start processing this stack of letters using the new method Jen and I discussed.

I found this video that demonstrates using a document cleaning pad, which is similar to what I've been doing. The only difference is that I'm cleaning envelopes and letters. The cleaning pad contains tiny granules that are similar to pieces of an eraser. It causes dirt and dust to cling to it which helps clean the document.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

day 02: frustrated

Today I finished processing the remaining correspondences to John Beverley Riggs from World War II. Jen was busy in a meeting, so I decided to be proactive and see if I could figure out what I should do next. While I was reviewing my box surveys I realized that I was no where near finished with letters to/from J.B. Riggs. Although a large portion of letters had been grouped into two boxes, there were still more letters randomly stored in other boxes. Once I dug out the other boxes and found the letters, I realized there were letters that started from 1930s through the 1970s. I had just finished numbering boxes and folders for letters starting from 1942 through 1945. I also noticed there was a gap between October 1945 and January 1946, that I should've paid more attention to. The letters that were written after 1945 I don't consider a problem for the current boxes and folders that I had processed. I could continue processing them chronologically without issue. The letters that were written in 1945 and earlier however, presented a problem.

I had already taken the time to number boxes and folders. Renumbering boxes isn't a big deal, since there are only 4 so far, but each box has 70 numbered folders. Inserting these letters into these boxes requires a lot of shifting and renumbering, and I realized a lot of time that I have now potentially wasted. I was incredibly frustrated, but luckily it was time to head out and consider the potential options I had for reorganizing these letters. Also, first thing on Thursday I have decided to discuss my thoughts and ideas with Jen before processing anything further.

Monday, May 17, 2010

day 01: the beginning

Today was the first day of my internship at George Washington University at the Special Collections Research Center in Washington, DC. Since this is a continuation of the internship I worked for my Archives class this past spring semester, I already had an idea of what to expect.

Jenny requested that I contribute to the SCRC blog about the work and experience I've had thus far. I wrote a fair amount on my experience during the initial 40 hours and she posted it online! Please feel free to view my blog post on The Riggs Family papers. I'm planning on writing more blogs about the project as I continue my internship throughout the summer.

The project that I've been working on is a second donation from the Riggs family. For those of you not up to date on your local history, the Riggs family has been a prominent family in Washington, DC for the last two hundred years. They are widely known for the establishment and success of Riggs Bank. This collection was donated in 10 various sized boxes (9.5 linear feet) which included papers, photographs and artifacts that relate to the family and not the bank.

Throughout the spring semester I surveyed and recorded the items of each box and developed a processing plan. I first began processing correspondences to/from John Beverley Riggs until I finished the required hours for my Archives class. I spent the remainder of my first day processing more correspondences that were written in August of 1945. I remove each letter from their envelope, flatten the letter and place both papers inside the folder. Each folder has been labeled with the call number, series number, sub series, box number, folder number, heading and date written (or post mark). Occasionally there are news clippings inside each letter which I photocopy onto acid free paper and replace the original clipping in the folder with its corresponding letter. It is difficult for me to throw away these clippings knowing they are authentic! But the point of this collection is to maintain its relevance to the letter. There are a small handful of letters left and I hope to have them all processed soon!