I spent the summer semester working on projects in diverse aspects of archival work, including outreach, policy development, and day-to-day collection management activities as an intern at the Emerson College Archives. These projects are described briefly below.
I began by creating materials for the then-upcoming Emerson College Alumni Weekend, which was a great opportunity for the Archives to perform “in-reach” to the Alumni Office and support that office’s mission to engage alumni. I used archival material (yearbooks, student newspapers, commencement programs, etc.) to create memory books for individual alumni; each book told the story of the former student’s time at Emerson and included scanned images of items such as their application photo, articles in the student newspaper, and their senior yearbook photo.
During Alumni Weekend, I was able to see these memory books in action when the books were presented to the alumni at a lunchtime ceremony. It was rewarding not only because I was able to see the final product of my efforts, but also because it offered me a different view on Alumni Weekend events (before entering the GSLIS program at Simmons, I was an Event Manager for the University of Chicago’s Alumni Weekend).
Other lessons learned this summer: Climbing mountains in flip-flops is totally doable.
My next project was going to be the reappraisal and weeding of a large collection of news clippings, the Herald Clipping File; when I got my hands on the material, however, I knew that the project would not be so simple. Over 40 cubic feet of carefully arranged materials comprised the collection, and unique materials were interspersed with the clippings. Not all of the clippings came from the Boston Herald (or its predecessor papers), and many source papers could not be identified at all. Further, my research indicated that this particular type of collection might have a unique value; similar collections exist at the Harvard Archives (the Harvard Theater Collection) and at the Boston Public Library (the Boston Theater Archives), which indicate that the Herald Clipping File has ongoing archival value.
My internship supervisor asked me to create a reappraisal and deaccessioning policy to guide any actions taken with the Herald Clipping File (and Emerson’s other collections). It was a lot of fun to start something like this from scratch, and the SAA’s Guidelines for Reappraisal and Deaccessioning were a big help. Ultimately, my internship supervisor decided to retain the Herald Clipping File and make a renewed effort to promote the collection to the Emerson community.
I also gained some very practical experience by taking on ownership of the papers of one of Emerson’s past presidents. I surveyed the collection to check that the print-out of a box list from a defunct 1980s database was still accurate, then recreated the box list in Excel and prepared the collection to be sent to off-site storage. The process was not glamorous, but it was satisfying to see the project through to completion. The space cleared by moving that collection off-site will be used to bring the Herald Clipping File on site for easy access.
These projects helped develop my skills in various areas of archival work. From conducting research and creating new products to support the institution (with the Alumni Weekend memory books), to high level policy creation and problem solving (with the Herald Clipping File), to working with legacy systems and creating a workable situation within that framework (with the President’s collection), I am leaving the internship with a greater skill set than that with which I arrived.
I found this gem in the archives at Emerson
Impressions of Emerson
It was an absolute pleasure to work under the supervision of Christina Zamon at the Emerson College Archives. I learned a great deal from witnessing her work-style; she has developed personal connections throughout the Emerson community to the benefit of herself and the archives. And, although she is very busy, Ms. Zamon handles the workload with grace, and makes time to nurture her working relationships. Her work is a great example of how to invest in the ongoing success of an archival program, and I look forward to following her example in my professional career.