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!