I’m at the Organization of American Historians’ annual meeting presenting a poster with a colleague this weekend. I’m taking notes and will be sure to make a few posts about the conference, including some on our poster.

For now, I’m out to fine some caffine and breakfast before the next panel begins.


Keeping me busy

I have been fairly silent on here the past few months. During most of the fall I felt I had time to get everything done at work without being too busy. Then January came and since then I felt like I was continually playing catch up with regular tasks as well as various projects. I think I have finally devised a good system in recent weeks to devote time to my various responsibilities and projects. I am feeling less overburdened and more productive most of my days now.

Here’s some of the things I’ve been working on this winter:

  • Archivists’ Toolkit Initiative Team
  • Dealing with backlog accessioning/correspondence
  • Structuring work flows for donor correspondence
  • Accessioning/Processing procedures for digital manuscript collections
  • Organizing/submitting/preparing for a session for the Northwest History and Heritage Extravaganza, a joint meeting of the Northwest Archivists, Northwest Oral History Association, Oregon Heritage Conference, and the Pacific Northwest History Conference. (accepted!)
  • Submitting/preparing a poster session for the Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting. (accepted!)

There are buds on the trees outside my house this weekend! Here’s hoping that the spring brings continued/increased productivity.

“[D]ue to severe budget reductions, the Oregon Historical Society will be closing its Research Library beginning this Saturday, February 28th. The collections will no longer be open to the public, and all library positions will be eliminated beginning March 13th.  A few positions will remain to handle orders for photo and film reproduction. It is not known at this time if or when the library will re-open and at what capacity. As many of you know, the OHS Research Library has the largest collection of archival documents relating to the history of Oregon, including its nationally-renowned photograph collection containing over 2.5 million historical photographs, more than 32,000 books, 25,000 maps, 12,000 linear feet of manuscripts, 3,000 serials titles, 16,000 reels of newspaper microfilm, 8.5 million feet of film and videotape, and 10,000 oral history tapes….The board decided to continue support, with some reductions, for our museum and its traveling exhibits and outreach programs.”

More information will be posted on the OHS website in the coming weeks.

This article from the Chicago Tribune last Sunday is worth a read: Librarians Helped Tame the Wild West. I find it interesting not just for the historical treatment of libraries and librarians, but because it brings back memories of my past research topics in women’s history. I’ve done a good deal of readings surrounding women and professionalism in the early Progressive Era as well as Hull House in Chicago. My favorite figure from this period is Alice Hamilton, who has been the topic of several course papers and projects.  (See Schlesinger finding aid here. AH is present in many other collections as well.)

The UO happens to have the papers of Cornelia Marvin Pierce, who served as the State Librarian of Oregon from 1905-1929. She was influential in developing the state library system. She received her library training in Chicago and during her studies was involved with Hull House in the mid to late 1890s. Her collection is on my list for some MPLP treatment and a finding aid at some point.

I forgot to post about this in my post election happiness.  The day after election day there was an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle calling for the repeal of Sarbanes-Oxley. In today’s current economic climate there is the potential the next congress could look at records retention for public companies again. Since records management is something I have only studied and never been employed to do, I don’t think I have much to say off hand.  I’ll be on the look out for more developments and potential impacts on the record keeping community.

And what do you do?

This past weekend I headed back to New York to participate in a dear friend’s wedding. I had a great time, caught up with lots of people in the city, spent some time walking the streets by myself, and ate tons of great food.  Of course at the wedding I was faced with trying to explain my job. I start out with “I’m an archivist.” then pause to see people’s reactions.  I know there has been a good deal of discussion over how to answer this question.  I find that when I start explaining what an archivist is immediately, people who already know seem annoyed I just explained it to them. I also like pausing because often times people follow up with some sort of “Does that mean you [fill in blank]?” These can sometimes be amusing and even when they aren’t funny the questions can help frame my answer for whoever I am talking to.

For some reason, I think my elevator pitch of my job description is getting worse and worse and I seem to be stumbling as of late.  I am not sure if this is because I’m tired of explaining or if it changes based on the social situation.  I was giving my short once sentence answer throughout the wedding.  One person even called me on it and asked if I have a longer version, as he assumed I was asked to explain what an archivist does often.

I did a quick search to find the winning 30 word contest, but could not locate it right away. (Are my search and retrieval skills dying from grad school already?! I am blaming the pre-thanksgiving state of mind.)

Anyway, the photo below is just too beautiful to not share. Click and check out other fabulous photographs by Ryan, he does more than weddings! Emily and Jeffrey’s wedding photos should be up shortly.

Emily and Jeffrey

A New World: Emily and Jeffrey. Photograph by Ryan Brenizer


L’Archivista has a good post on the CGBG records covered by the NYT. Check out the cool visualization of the storage area in Williamsburg here and read the accompanying article here.

I don’t have much experience at CBGBs either, but was very sad to see it go. The last show I saw was Jonah Mantranga in the upstairs space. My friend Greg has more traumatic memories of the venue as men would always hit on him in the downstairs bathroom.  The strange thing is that they were always British.