Monday, August 3, 2015

Days 22 & 23: The End!?

Days 22 & 23

Nicolle Brossard
I continued working on the finding aid for the Nicolle Brossard Collection. As this was not a collection that I wrote up or processed myself, I found myself double-checking some of the inventory, just to make sure it was where it was supposed to be.The volunteer who had typed it up (but was no longer there) was actually out of the military so he used terminology I would not have or thought to have. His descriptions were a bit more detailed also, knowing what was "government issue" versus what was commercially made but could be worn instead of or underneath. His descriptions of the boots were far more detailed as he knew what each was called whereas I would have said black boots or boots with camouflage pattern. Beth Ann chuckled at the level of detail that was going to be in this particular finding aid.

One of the best ways to learn something is to make a mistake. In this case I discovered I made an error in the hierarchy construction of the finding aid. As a box could hold multiple folders of different series, I had constructed them as: box, series1, folder1 of series1, series2, folder1 of series2, folder2 of series2. However, intellectual constructs go before the physical ones and so should read: Series1, box1,folder1 of series1; series2, box1,folder 1 of series2. This makes sense when one considers that some items in a series may be in other boxes because of size and type. It was not hard making the corrections (so I learned some new abilities of working in Archon), but I realized I would have to go back to make corrections to the Rachel Brune collection which was quite sizable and the Westray Battle Boyce collection. The first finding aid I did was of a smaller and relatively uncomplicated collection, Thelma L. Meyer Petty Papers, and so it was not broken down into a series format.

Unfortunately, it did mean I would not have time to write up the finding aid for Frances Stanley Trembath, although all the preliminary work was done and could probably be knocked out relatively quickly.

While the other collections had some works that were to be digitized, the Nicolle Brossard collection had items that had already been digitized which meant coming up with the proper place and way to notate that. I think this may be Archon's biggest weakness. It's good for creating finding aids for physical collections and even one or two links to outside resources. But, dealing with digital items and physical items with digital versions, it is not very intuitive as to the proper way of handling it.

The End
These were my final days. My background is in digitizing materials. So, I desired to get more hands-on experience as opposed to digital processing. In this, the Practicum was a success. In doing research and creating finding aids, I still used my computer skills, but I got to do more than that. I enjoyed the research angles, trying to find and build the stories of the people whose collections I was handling. In that regard, I enjoyed the basic work environment of working in an institution as opposed to a more corporate environment. I was expected to learn and explore a bit.

I could not but help but think again of the difference the internet has made in jobs like this. By the end, I had learned quite a bit about the history of the university, of the WAAC, WAC, and even some of my own state history. In the past, the person handling these collections would need to be fairly knowledgeable in those areas as well as the military already. Or else, identifications of the patches, medals, and people in the photographs known only by their married last name, that would be all that would be in the record. We would not even have dates of deaths or married names if not for the ability to search records and databases online. Plus, the work I did added to that well of information.

When I think about 120 hours equating to the first three weeks of training at a full-time job, I have to admit to being pleased at the amount of work that I accomplished and all that I learned. Especially when factored in that it was broken up by two 5 hour shifts a week which gives a lot of time to forget what happened the week before.

The finding aids I worked on can be found at:
Rachel Ann Brune Papers
Westray Battle Boyce Papers
Thelma L. Meyer Petty Papers
Nicolle M. Brossard Collection

The Future?
I have one last semester to go. Just because the Practicum has come to an end, it does not mean the necessary end of this blog... 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Day 21

Day 21

Nicolle Brossard Collection
Today when I came in Beth Anne had pulled a larger collection out for us to work on. A lot of the preliminary work had been done: the biography was written up, the inventory had been written up (by an ex-soldier volunteer so there was more detail regarding some items such as boots than I would have been able to come up with), and the items had been more or less separated. The collection does not include as much paperwork as others, but does include quite a bit of uniform items, making a physically big collection.

As Ms. Brossard had medical training, part of the donation included four iv bags of saline solution. One of the regular tasks of handling collections is the weeding of needless duplicate material. So, three bags were going to be gotten rid of. However, all of the bags had to be first emptied of the liquid contents while doing minimal damage. In the interest of providing accurate information, Beth Anne first weighed the items. We set one saline bag to dry while disposing of the others. Another item that needed some contents removed was a modern wrist watch. Over time, the battery could prove to be corrosive. This was problematic as this was not a watch that was particularly designed to have its battery removed; battery dies, you get a new watch.

I had not encountered this issue with other collections yet so this was a valuable lesson in thinking about items that are not good to be stored over long periods (liquids, perishables and in the case of the battery, corrosive and toxic). It also gave me pause to think to be careful about what we are disposing of, some liquids you will not want to simply pour down the sink! As we drained the saline bags, Beth Anne shared a story from when the archives had different digs. Shelf space was at a premium and her material was next to more general storage. And, as I have noticed with the collections I have worked on, years may pass before a collection gets processed. In any case, trying to get something off the shelf or to look for something invariably required moving things around and something usually fell. One time it was a glass bottle of coke that someone had donated to the archives, still full of coke. The bottle broke and a big mess was made. This memory still rankles her and so she was bugged knowing that she had this collection that still had liquid contents that had not been dealt with.

It makes me think that ideally, when a collection is originally assessed, that might be the time to make note of and handle any potentially dangerous or perishable items. I understand the reality of not being able to immediately process a collection but I think back to reading the manual and the first step is really assessing the collection for materials that will need special handling and preservation. That coke bottle not only should have been drained, but being a glass object needed special care before being placed into storage.

Typing up the notes into Archon for the finding aid proved to be especially troublesome this time around. For some reason, the system refused to recognize the hard returns from the documents and would not recognize when I tried to insert them manually into the text window by hitting the "enter" button. I had to view by "source" and use the html markup code to insert them in order to create breaks between the paragraphs. Even then, I had to do so more than once for it to take.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Days 19 & 20

Days 19 and 20

Frances Stanley Trembath Papers
As I finished the last of the three finding aids for the collections I worked on, I started processing another small collection. Like the others, the collection had a preliminary processing. An oversize photograph had already been removed. Other photographs were in a folder and paperwork was in two other folders. However, materials were still in original envelopes, and the paperwork was stapled and attached in groups.

The photographs I subdivided. While all of the photographs appeared to be from the same time period, only a couple had any kind of identifying information. Luckily those that did were the ones that featured Frances Stanley herself. So that was separated from the others into individual mylar sleeves. Two of those were chosen to be digitized. The others were put in a protective envelope. Included with the photographs were postcards from the bases she served with no personal writing on them. I separated them from the photographs to go into an Ephemera folder.

The paperwork was a bit more problematic. While some was stapled together or attached to a rudimentary clipboard, there was no apparent provenance to them. They were all military related from her being called up to active service in 1942 to being released from service in 1945. A whole lot of abbreviations used in the memos and orders, to the point that at first they were incomprehensible, like trying to read someone else's personal shorthand. As I organized them by date, I slowly began to make sense of them. "Reld" was "released", "lv of ab" was "leave of absence" and so on. Included in these were were a few that gave her prior work history, personal information, various temporary and permanent assignments. This allowed me to generate a pretty good detailed history of her life up to 1945.

Like many, I have grown up hearing about bureaucracy and filling things out in triplicate. And, the general rule is to get rid of duplicate materials unless a compelling reason to keep them. As I organized the paperwork, I would come across a stack of 6 pages stapled together. I removed the staple and be set to paperclip them together to discover the 6 pages were identical. Not only that, they frequently were copies of a single sheet elsewhere in the paperwork! Why she would have so many copies of generally issued orders, I have no clue. Much less why they would have been stapled together. I quickly had a stack of papers that were nothing more than duplicates several times over.

This collection came from her niece. A note from her stated that Frances was a nurse stateside during WWII, married but had no children. These papers were part of the niece's mother's effects that the niece was going through after her mother's death. Going through the paperwork, I knew Frances Stanley's date of birth and location, her schooling, that she was single during the War and even her blood type! However, there was nothing in the way of personal papers or letters or clippings. I did not know when or who she married other than the last name of Trembath. Nor, did I have a date of death.

Day 20 was spent finalizing the organizing of the collection, typing up what I knew and trying to use the computer to research a bit more, at least a date of death. This became a bit frustrating in that I could find out quite a bit of information of the family around her. Her sister's obituary was easily found online from multiple state publications, and Frances Trembath was listed as preceding her in death. I found out the niece sings in the opera, mostly in "trouser" roles. The niece's husband/partner (sites were a bit inconsistent on this point) died not too long ago. Frances Trembath's nephew and the niece's brother was one of the early developers of the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing games. The niece's father and Frances' brother-in-law was a minister and died only a few months after his wife. On a genealogical website, I found one of Frances' brothers' obituaries who preceded her in death and had also served in WWII. I learned a bit about the camp hospitals she worked at and why she had basic training almost two years after she was called to active service. But, nothing that pointed actually to her.

Beth Anne suggested the Social Security Death index. I had not considered this as I did not actually have a social security card number to work with as I did with Thelma Petty. But, with a year of her birth and the state, we had some information to work with... and a quick search she did unfortunately did not yield any narrowing results. Inspired and not willing to be quite ready to let it go, I gave it a try on my own. As I have noted before, the SSI Death Index is a database that you have to access through third-party sites, usually genealogical ones. They are stingy with the information they give back unless you register with a "free" trial. However, using what I knew, I did get a date of death back. Trying again through another site, I was able to specifically verify that the result did pertain to a Fraces S. Trembath with her date of birth and the state, thus with high confidence, I could list 2006 as her date of death. However, any other records such as copies of obituaries stayed denied to me as an unregistered free user. Her husband and her post-war career remain shrouded unless someone decides to interview her niece for any further information or memories she has of her aunt.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Days 18 & 19

Days 18 and 19
Archon and Finding Aids
I started learning the Archon interface for creating the Finding Aids that are online. The system is not difficult and is designed to allow a bit of flexibility for different collections and the style of the archivist in terms of how detailed and deep he wants to make the finding aides. For example, while most collections I worked on have a hierarchy of series then the folders, then the items in the folder. However, smaller collections may have only one folder in a series, and one item in the folder. Instead of breaking it down all the way to the item level, I described the items generally in the description of the folder itself. I only defined specific items in cases of materials that were separated out into artifact boxes, textile boxes, or oversize boxes, where there is no folder level.

This is where diligence in the previous work of note-taking and writing up what I called "reports" pays off. As I used previous finding aids to give me the structure and information needed in writing up the report, it makes for ease in working in Archon, all the information is already at hand. The better the report, the less to no need to actually refer to the collection itself.  A few places, I felt the need to re-write a sentence so that it worked better in the actual structure of the finding aid. Also, using something already written earlier allowed me to catch mistakes and inconsistencies that I missed earlier.

Archon has two annoyances that make the process a bit more time consuming than it should be. The first is there are three main sections to creating the finding aid (as I do not have the program running in front of me, I am going to have to give an approximation of what they are called): creator manager, collection manager, and collection content manager. The problem is, that every time you leave one to go to the other, you have to search again for the collection you wish to work on.

The other is one that many people who use the computer for writing and publishing will find familiar: copying and pasting text from a word processing document into the publishing program. Inevitably, any formatting you have done in one will create errors. I had very little specialized formatting going on and Archon tries to accommodate by having different options for pasting text into Archon. Unfortunately, none of these really made a noticeable difference. To make matters worse, the errors do not display in Archon itself until you exit the screen and come back (although they will show up in the live preview). Every place I had italicized text, apostrophes, quotation marks and the occasional place where I had two spaces instead of one, a funky "A" or "AA" or even "AAA" popped up. I am not a bad typist, so smaller sections, I ended up re-typing from my notes instead of copying and pasting. For longer sections, I tried to go through and delete the punctuation or take out the formatting style and then add it back in from inside Archon. This generally worked. However, reviewing the finding aids later, I discovered that sometimes the errors still showed up, in conjunction with my typed in changes. So, I had to re-edit some areas several times. This made the Brune and Westray Battle collections take longer than readily apparent. Partly because both collections had relatively lengthy biographical data. As a writer with various publication titles and columns referred to, Brune's collection had quite a bit of italicized and quotation bracketed text. Westray Battle's collection had many apostrophes from different references to "Woman's College" as well as several references to the Alumnae News.

Over the two days, I typed up the three collections I worked extensively on: Westray Battle Boyce, Rachel Ann Brune, and Thelma Meyer Petty. The Creator bios are currently online though the full finding aid is not yet.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Day 17

Day 17
Westray Battle Boyce cont.
I took the photos and the identification information down to the digital lab. I then began working on writing up the collection report for the finding aide. About halfway through I made another fascinating discovery. There was the one photo from when Westray Battle had visited UNCG to give a speech. The photo had her, the then current Dean and two women. The woman on the left of the photo was identified by her husband's name and her full maiden name that she attended the school under and the year she graduated. The other woman, who was cropped out of the photo when it was printed in the Alumnae News was only identified as Mrs. Dickenson. Not enough to go on to get a fuller description so that was what I sent downstairs. Going through the letters for biographical information, I discovered a reference to Mrs. Dickenson and the comment to Westray that she would remember her as Lula Martin McIver. The last name rung a bell in that some of the various references to other Westrays and Battles were found in the digital Charles Duncan McIver Papers. 

A quick online search for "Lula Martin McIver" returned results from our own library and digital collections including a photo. This photo was of her mother, Lula her father being Dr. Charles Duncan McIver, the first President of the school. His daughter contributed many of the papers that make up the school's collection of papers relating to her father. And, this was the person that was cropped out of the photograph when printed and being further obscured by being identified only by her husband's name!

Writing Westray Battle Boyce's biography shared a similar problem with Rachel Brune's, there is almost too much information written. I also discovered another problem, inconsistent reporting of dates and such. The Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) and Women's Army Corps (WAC) were frequently used interchangeably. They are also inconsistent with capitalization rules in regards to referring to the organization and referring to the women themselves. Boyce attended Woman's College in their Commercial Program, a one year course and not as part of a four-year degree. Almost all of the references to her in the alumnae publications and such appended "com. '19" to her name instead of "class of..." Thus many outside references to her draw attention to her attending but "not graduating". Inconsistencies in the dates of her enlisting and retiring from the service also occur. Depending on the source, three different months are given for her enlistment: July, August, and September. This may be partly a case of them referring to at least two different things: when she started Officer's Candidacy School and her first commission as an officer of the WAAC. The different biographies also relate her retiring from the service either in March or May, 1947. In this case, born out by actual news clippings relating to her being named as national representative for National Society for Crippled Children and Adults, Inc. around April and May of the same year, March makes more sense. Although, again it is possible the conflict of dates arises out confusion as to what the dates refer to. She had to step down from being director of the WAC due to illness. It is conceivable that this happened in March while her official exit from the military itself was in May. In the time between the two dates, she had arranged for her post military career in a cause that was dear to her, making the dates overlap. However, both cases are mere speculation on my part here. As part of the biography for the finding aide, I plan to leave it more vague. It will be up to the future researchers to iron out the discrepancies of the accounts found in the papers here. As I already noted, one of the sources listed the source of her name as being the NC physician Dr. Westray Battle. However, other sources make note that Westray comes from the surname of a family married into the Battle family and the name of "Westray Battle" is a recurring one in the family. It is possible that both are true. Another source referred to her receiving the Legion of Merit medal by a different name.

In reading through the various articles and biographies, I was struck by some of the latent sexism. Almost all of the sources list her various marriages and what happened to them as if it was entertainment news. I know of her height (or lack thereof), her prematurely graying hair, her soft-spoken voice, details that don't come up very often in articles covering men. Almost every article also makes note of her daughter of the same name, her nickname "Webbie", her age and what school she goes to. In one, I even find out that her daughter is similarly height challenged, has blue eyes and the longest lashes seen in a while! I struggled about including her marriages in the biography. I originally decided to include the first simply because it defines where the "Boyce" of her name comes from, the last name she carried for most of her military career. The third I included because that is her last name at the time of her death and shows up as her last name for some collections. The second marriage becomes included mainly for completion's sake. It is also the only marriage for which our particular collection includes news articles reporting and is her last name during her work with the National Society for Crippled Children and Adults.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Day 16

Day 16
Westray Battle Boyce
As I noted, Westray Battle Boyce is important for several reasons over to this project. She was an alumnae from the school (the Project was originally devoted to alumnae of Woman's College veterans), she is from North Carolina, and she achieved several notable firsts during her military career as well as becoming head of the Women's Army Corps after World War Two. This meant that it was possible that she was referenced in other collections such as already digitized copies of the Alumnae News.

Going through University of North Carolina Greensboro's digital collections I found several references. Her slightly odd name helped in this regard. I automatically ruled out publications that were related to the escaped slaves notices project and older publications. A few of the references referred to a Doctor Westray Battle of North Carolina from around the turn of the 20th century. Westray was the surname of one of the families that married into the prominent North Carolina Battle family and it became a recurring first name for the family. One of the biographies sent out to newspapers and the school for their own article mentioned that she was named after this well-respected doctor, but it appears that is not necessarily the case. Indeed, some of the other Westray results were of NC families with it as a last name. Almost half the results were duplicates of what we already had such as the Alumnae News clippings. One notable return was the transcript of another veteran's oral history who trained with Westray at Officer's Candidacy School for the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. I printed copies of these materials, made a list of all of the links and described what was found at each. These will go into a separate file.

We set aside several photos of her in uniform to send to the digital laboratory. I then set out to further identify them in order to provide meta data. In my research I discovered two other collections devoted to her outside of UNCG. One is at the NC History Museum in Raleigh. Another is part of the Truman Library. A new question raised itself, of the ones that we selected, all but one have already been digitized as part of other collections. Several of them we decided to digitize anyway. One photo because it was a good portrait of her to use on the landing page, another was historically important as it showed her receiving the Legion of Merit award (she is the first woman to have received it), another showed her with another woman who was also an alumnae of Woman's College, she worked with her in Africa as part of Eisenhower's staff. The one photograph not already scanned is from the time that Westray came to the school to give a speech at an alumnae dinner. It was reproduced in the Alumnae News but had been cropped in to cut out a woman on one side. It also included Dean Walter Clinton Jackson, for whom UNCG's Jackson Library is named.

I still find it interesting in that in this job I am rewarded by actually paying attention to details and getting a general feel of what the pages of letters are about and for doing further research beyond what is in the collection itself. The significance of the name of the woman in the photo with her in Africa would not have occurred if I had not recognized the name from an article in the Alumnae News that mentioned she was working with Boyce. I would not have recognized her by face alone. Without that extra tidbit, we probably would have passed on digitizing it ourselves as it was already digitized by the Truman Library.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Day 15

Day 15
Rachel Brune cont.
Today I worked on finishing writing up the report that will be used to create the finding aide and then going over the work with my supervisor, Beth Ann Koelsch. Some of the corrections are ones that simply did not occur to me such as I listed some of the materials in folders in a list format. It looks nice on the page and is easy to read. However, the program this will be imported into does not use that format. It seemed such a logical and natural way to do it, that it did not occur to me to do so otherwise.

Other corrections were more along the lines of style. I had already encountered that dates were generally written in European order: day/month/year. It is an odd one and easy to remember. Harder to remember is to not abbreviate state names but spell them out. One of the hardest parts of going back to school was re-acquainting myself with the more formal style of academic writing. I had almost consciously purged myself of that style, trying to incorporate a more natural, almost conversational style and paying more attention to rhythm and flow. Spelling out state names is even more formal than normal academic style of writing. In my head it makes sense. I am constantly running into abbreviations on this project that are not defined. Plus, I am also old enough to remember when the abbreviation for Alabama was Ala. So, it makes sense to bypass that potential confusion. However, it is completely unnatural way to write.

There is also styles such as when to capitalize Military Police. Plus, to make sure the first time that it pops up in the guide, it is written out as "Military Police (MP)".

Other corrections were more of just general style and preference. Some were stylistic changes I would have made on my own going back in a day or two reviewing what I had written: correcting some too casual writing such as photos for photographs and alternating the use of her name with the pronoun "she" which flows better.

Westray Battle Broyce Papers
As there was not enough time to actually get into training on Archon, the program used to generate the online finding aides, I started processing one of the smaller collections on my cart. This collection is already divided up into four folders: photographs, correspondence, clippings, and miscellaneous and not really a lot of material in any of the folders. Its size would be deceptive though.

I glanced through the photographs, they did not have any dates and only one had actual information written on the back. Placing these by dates and identifying the people would have to come by other means.

I moved to correspondence. It turns out that Westray Battle attended Woman's College (now University of North Carolina Greensboro) from 1918 to 1919. Many of the letters to her concerning her coming to visit and giving a speech on the role of women and the WAC in the army. The last one that I read first identified one of the first photos.

It was processing the clippings that a fuller picture of the woman emerged. She was from the town I grew up in, Rocky Mount, NC. She worked on General Eisenhower's staff and achieved several firsts. She would be the second director of the WAC. She had a daughter by the same name, the first time I can recall seeing the suffix Jr. being applied to a woman's name. Thankfully, someone had written on the clippings, the dates and, in some cases, the papers they were from. Also included were a couple of clippings from issues of Alumnae News, a magazine covering the alumnae of Woman's College. Some of the other photographs were able to be identified as they were reproduced in some of the clippings. I managed to divide the clippings into chronological order and then make copies of them on acid free paper, grouping the ones from the same year together.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Day 14

Day 14
Rachel Brune Papers Cont.
Thanks to the 4th of July I lost a day of working. I am also past the halfway point of the Practicum. Looking into the time remaining and the hours missed, I realized that we had not taken into account the holiday and I needed to make up the lost day and make some changes in order to reach the goal of 120 hours by the end of the month. Somewhere the schedule had been miscalculated. While my schedule was arranged in order to work 20 days in two and a half months, it was also set up for 5 hour shifts. However, to reach 120 hours, the shifts should have been 6 hours from the beginning or arranged so that I would work 24 days. Such is life.

One would think I would be finished with Rachel Brune by now. I started putting the finishing touches on the collection. I labelled the folders by the series name and numbered them according to the series as some like "Correspondence" spanned several folders. The books I made covers for were labelled as if folders.

I then started typing up what I will call the "collection report". It is basically what will be the finding aide for the collection when placed online. It covers basic administrative information such as what the collection is, how it was obtained, who did the processing work (me), the amount of material, how it is organized, etc. When describing the folders and collection, I have to decide how detailed I want to get in the descriptions. The difficult part is in several areas there are overlaps of information The Abstract gives a brief biography as well as description of the collection. Following that is the Scope which gives even more detail of the overall collection. Then the Biography which goes into even more detail of the person's life.

This collection has a few special challenges in that regard as there is so much information and detail and deciding what is important enough to include and what to leave out.  And, would it be easier to write the brief ones first and then the longer more in-depth ones? Or, the longer ones first and then pare them down for the smaller ones? In this case, I was provided with the Abstract biography part, so it was only where the Scope and Abstract overlapped I had to deal with in this regard. Checking other online finding aides were not much of a help as some merely were copy and paste, making Scope completely redundant.

Another issue that appeared was when I got to near the end of the Biography. Details concerning Rachel's last tour are scant in the collection. I was able to get some of her post military career information from her online blog. In writing it up, I realized that I was getting to an unusual point in regards to many of the collections of the Women Veterans Project, her story is not done. The tendency would be to write this in present tense; however, at the point that someone may be accessing the collection, the information would be in the past and no longer accurate.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Day 13

Day 13
Rachel Brune cont.
Started by making the 3rd custom cover for the green notebooks. It has been a week since the last 2 so it didn't go quite as quick as before. Reminded me a lot of the pains of wrapping gifts - no matter how many times it seems I measure before I cut to make sure I have plenty of overlap, in the end, I come up just a little short. Sadly, this happened in the very last step, requiring me to do the second piece of the cover again. For such a small task, this took longer than I would have cared for.

 We got the CD back from being cleaned and I looked at several of the pictures contained on it. They seemed to be of three sets, two named after troop numbers 704th and 844th. The other was called "Bucca Trip". Armed with this information, I went back to the collection to see if I could find references to these in order to date the pictures.

The collection contains only a few personal letters she had written, so I checked those first in order to rule them out. In the pictures, we could see that she was using her camouflage covered notebook. Her personal notebooks are difficult to read as when writing for herself, her handwriting is difficult to follow. This is coupled with many of the notes are just snippets of sentences. And, there are only a few dates. However, near the middle of the book there was a page with the notation of "photos" and describes several of the photos that I saw with identification of the people involved. No specific date, but at least specific information we did not have before.

The next resource was all of her published articles which makes up a large part of the collection. I did not particularly relish this as it could easily take a long while. I started with the yearbook of the MP Times, an easy collection to scan through quickly. I found the Bucca reference first. It concerned the transition of an interrogation base from the British to the Americans and the work to make it into a base for the Military Police (MP) of which Brune was part. The troop designations followed almost immediately as they supplemented her own, the 800th. On top of that, I found further confirmation this was the time the photos referred to as several of the photos I saw on the disc were reproduced in the paper! I made copies of the relevant pages.

If making the last of the custom covers took longer than I wanted, the research thankfully took much less time that it easily could have. Especially if I had to continue to looking through the individual issues of publications and the many news clippings of her articles and photos that are part of the collection (the Journalism section is 5 folders, almost a whole box by itself).

Day 11

Day 11
Rachel Brune Papers
Grabbed an artifact box for the 3 smallish artifact items. One of which is metal and thus wrapped in bubble wrap to further protect it. Talked about the thinking that goes into keeping artifacts. There's the information the artifact contains ie words on a plaque or a patch. Then there's the informational value of the item as a physical object itself, not just what it represents. With some items at times, these concerns may be played off each other as the physical space the object takes up may come into play, will a copy of the item work as well?

Went through and labelled the various folders.  As we went over these together, I was told to include the letters Rachel wrote to her family collated in with the other personal correspondence by the date as opposed to keeping them separate. Several letters had no year and no envelopes, so they got filed with the undated letters. As I labelled the folders, I realized there were several gaps, some by months others by almost a couple of years. A few I could chalk up to the fact that I had a lot of Christmas cards and letters with no years and could account for a few of the gaps. Others I think largely correspond to the times she was back in the States... less written correspondence as well as less likely to get filed with her military material. It appears as when done, the papers in folders will be in 3 boxes, plus the one textile box with the flag and patch and the artifact box containing the small artifacts.

Also broke the folders down into series and created a numbering system which will be used to make my notes and the finding aide. For multiple folders within a series such as the five that will go under Journalism and the six or so that comprise the Correspondence, the numbers will be along the lines of 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, etc.

Further weeded out the papers. Went through the physical copies of the newspapers that we had set aside for educational purposes. This time the purpose was to pull a small selection of those that were left that contained articles that might pertain specifically to women in the military.

We consulted with another archivist about how to handle the small bound notebooks of notes, especially as they contained loose papers and a bunch of post-it notes. It appears there will be more copying in my future. I will also be taught how to make some small protective covers for the books to fit into. One of the books contains a small group of papers so that will be put in a folder separate with a note referring to the book. So, I will need to label the books, chronologically if possible. This may be difficult as I can find month and days easily enough, but no years. These books are notes to herself regarding various things and interviews. As such, there are a lot of sentence fragments and non sequiturs. It does not make for easy reading or scanning.

I am reminded that in some ways this is more of an Art than a Science. I am also reminded of how in my old job I would look at a big project, think of several ways that I could tackle it, and then choose what I thought would be the most expedient way. It would turn out many times that about half-way through, I would realize that the path I chose was not quite the quickest or easiest way to do it. I say this because I find myself either repeating work or discarding material that I had already spent time working on. As I refine the filing system of the materials I have gone through, I realize I am going to have to go over them again when it comes to typing up my notes.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Day 12

Day 12
Rachel Ann Brune Papers
Today was Arts & Crafts day! I focused on the 3 smallish green hardcover books that Ms. Brune used as notebooks. These books were full of post-it notes and one had some random papers inserted inside the book. In order to retain provenance, it was decided that I would put those in a separate folder, marking which book they were from. However, from the covers, the books are identical. So, first job was to come up with a way to differentiate the books in a logical order and in pencil, mark them "Book 1", "Book 2", and "Book 3".

This was a bit slow going. While there are dates in the books, they are of the day and month, not year. In one, I find a reference to a model 2008 automobile which puts these at being among the most recent of the items in the collection. Something else quickly became apparent: these books are not what we thought they were. Most of the papers reference or are of her Journalism career in and out of the Army. A quick scan of these books showed them to be notes and there's plenty of contact numbers and dates for various events and meetings. Reading them more closely and the notes are more akin to class taking and seem more related to the part of her career as an MP officer. Once I did find some references to the years of 2009 and 2010, I was positive these books were indeed after all of her Journalist writings. One of my first assignments was typing up the pre-interview information concerning her which included the various bases she was stationed at, her dates of deployment, and in what capacity she served. I checked it because I was remembering a detail from that confusing list and was rewarded that this did coincide with what I was remembering, her time in officer's school that was immediately preceding her last deployment.

It is interesting that considering how much we got from her concerning her earlier deployments, from the newspapers she contributed to and all the letters from families and friends, there is comparatively little from this period. There correspondence reduces to a trickle past 2006 with only a single card from 2010. If not for these books, I would have completely forgotten there was another chapter to her career, one that is barely covered apart from what is found in these pages.

A big part of the day was going through and making copies of the post-it notes on "acid free" paper. I tried for the most part to copy the notes as they were on the page. In some cases, she overlapped notes or just plain put notes on top of other notes. One page had almost 12 notes stacked on top of each other. I should point out that the post-it notes varied in size from about the standard small squares to about 3 inches by 5 inches. In those cases, I arranged them in a group to copy on a standard size.

After copying, it was fun with scissors as I trimmed the pages down in order to fit in the books.

I was then shown how to create custom folder/boxes for the books. My background in working in Pre-press at the newspaper came in handy at this point. I was already familiar and comfortable with working with the tools of rulers and xacto knives. By the end of the day, two of the three boxes were created.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Day 10

Day 10 
Brune collection cont. 
Today I finished pulling the duplicate copies of newspapers and articles and copying the articles and photos that were on newsprint. As I have the collection now sorted and in folders where possible, I then went over the collection with my supervisor. We weeded some of the personal items and papers, placing them in the folder with other material already gathered to be sent back to her. The criteria here were items that seemed personal and especially where the provenance is unknown and not related to the purpose of the overall purpose of the collection. Some of it seems to be of the nature of materials that were sent to her by friends and family, but are no longer attached to the relevant letters or senders. Do we really need to keep a prose copy of the fourth issue of Origin, a comic book mini-series by Marvel Comics other than it suggesting that Rachel Brune is a comics fan? We also set aside the few textile and artifact items for separate storage which we will take care of the next day as the quitting time is getting close.

Weeding makes me think of various issues involved. With the personal items, such as the money from before, I have to consider that I am trying to make educated guesses as what would be seen as relevant to researchers in the future. To some, the stuff I see as irrelevant might be seen as giving a larger view of what this person was interested in and kept as opposed to earlier and later generations. My supervisor notes that this varies from archivist to archivist as well. Some want to keep everything, others only what is directly relevant. I am learning how she does it, and if I was working someone else I might be seeing slightly different ways. I am glad she makes note of that as it indicates that eventually in my career, I will be deciding my way. So, in some ways, looking through the various collections, how they are labelled and organized are windows on the archivist as well as the archives. 

With the news articles, once I made the copies, recycled the duplicates, the remaining originals are set aside for future education purposes. However, separating the stories from their larger context makes me think of various conflicting issues.  As I previously noted, newsprint is notoriously a poor quality paper and copying the relevant articles on acid free paper for long-term storage makes sense. There is also space to be considered. And, in this case, recent newspapers are probably already being digitally copied and stored by the publishers. Also to consider are copyrights which is a gray area when it comes to making wholesale copies, even for preservation purposes. Yet, most publishers charge for access to their digital archives which goes against the purpose of most library institutions. And, there's no guarantee that those publishers will still be in business decades hence. While the copies of the Brune articles are directly related to the specific collection and the larger collection overall, I have to think there is also value of the larger context of the papers they appeared in; the context of the events the stories take place in as well as the context of her writing style in comparison to other soldier writers and small-town paper writers. The challenge for the archivist is to travel these murky waters and make those judgment calls. In this area, we do have some whole papers that were not printed on newsprint, such as some magazines and a yearbook containing a year's worth of MP Times, a paper that Ms. Brune wrote and edited that was printed on better paper stock than newsprint. So, the context of some of the writings are being kept intact. Again, another archivist might make a different decision, or if there were fewer publications to be dealt with.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Day 9

Day 9
Rachel Ann Brune Collection
I am nearing the end. I finished sorting the materials into their relative groups. The correspondence folders are bulging and now that I have the materials sorted, I went through and broke them down into smaller and more manageable folders of approximate equal size.

Rest of the day was spent going through the many newspapers and copying the relevant articles on "acid free" paper and pulling the duplicate copies for recycling. I am getting the hang of the copier/printer and how to trick it into doing what I want it to do as opposed to what it thinks what I want it to do. It has a color setting, so I make color copies where relevant. Considering the low quality printing done in some of these, it is kind of hard to judge the actual color quality of the copies. My note-taking as I went through the collection helps me in the copying as I had recorded what pages her articles and/or photos were on. This saved me the time of having to hunt through them again.

 Newsprint is known for low grade paper quality and printing. This seems especially true for the military papers, or it may have been the conditions the papers had been kept in. The newspapers from her home-town do not show the same amount of aging though are of the same approximate age. Regardless, many already showed signs of the paper yellowing. I chose the least damaged looking ones of the duplicates for keeping for education purposes as directed.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Day 8

Day 8
Rachel Brune Papers
Making my way further through this collection, I am slowly nearing the bottom of the bin.   Found a folder full of correspondence dating to the time she first enlisted. Her father at this point was writing her once a week, her brother a little more often in addition to letters from her sisters and friends. They talked of her progress in doing push-ups (up to 50 at one point) as well as her marksmanship skills. Amongst the papers also included a printout of her target shooting results, resembling a long grocery store receipt. At this level are papers and such that look a lot like material that was sent to her as part of correspondence but not attached to any specific letter. Some of it seemed so random, I wondered if she went through the material at all before sending it to us. I set these aside in a miscellaneous folder.

Scattered amongst this material, I find two things that raised special questions. One was a bank loan statement. As noted before, this collection is of a person still living and the papers are fairly recent. Something of this sort that has personable identifiable information that could still be active struck me as being problematic. Since it has no real relevance to the scope of the collection, we decided to set it aside to send back to her. Minutes later, I came across a sealed envelope inside a card. The envelope contained two five-dollar bills and had a note on it for Ms. Brune to buy a disposable camera to take pictures and to send back home.

"What do we do when I find actual money?" I asked.

For my supervisor, this was a bit of a first. She had seen military script, or foreign currency, but not regular cash money. In this case, we copied the envelope (since it had a personal note attached) and made a notation that it had the two five dollar bills, paper clipped the copy to the card the money came with, and put the original envelope and money into the folder with the bank statement to be sent back to her.

Of course, I could not help but think that in a hundred years time, those two bills could possibly hold actual historical interest, much as if a Civil War collection contained some bills from both or either side of the conflict. When jokes were made by the archives staff that I passed the "Honesty Test", I also had to ruefully think that the money would have covered for parking in the deck for the day with some change left over.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Day 7

Day 7
Military Uniform Posters
The Government Documents area was weeding their collection and my supervisor retrieved several sets of prints that related to the Women Troops project. As they were already sitting on the work table when I came in, we decided to go ahead and process this collection. My job was to record the original numbers assigned to the sets, the dimensions of the prints in each set, the dates, record the name of the sets, the specific name to prints that featured military women in them and describe the women, and we would assign new identification numbers to those specific prints. Once done with that, I would enter the information into an Excel spreadsheet to make for importing the information as metadata.

Several of the sets contained documents that gave brief information concerning the prints. From there, I discovered that one of the artists was a woman in the military making that information relevant to the Women Troops project as well. Taking this information to my supervisor, we decided to add the artist to the metadata as well. As I researched online the background of one of the sets of other prints, I found another set had two military women as artists as well. I was glad to feel that I added something of real value to the processing of the collection.

I can see that I am going to have to learn Excel more fully. Dr. Chow in my Management and Leadership class extolled the virtues of it, especially when it comes to working with budgets. I also make rudimentary use of the program at work. Creating the spreadsheet for this task was not difficult, but the program obviously has more capability and value than to what I have put it to. I can see being proficient in it will be a valuable skill for continuing to work in a professional environment.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Day 6

Day 6 

Rachel Ann Brune Papers
Returned to the Rachel Brune collection. As I have made some headway in separating materials, I started arranging the materials in the folders as well into chronological order. Relatively easy for the published articles and newspapers. A little more difficult for the correspondence. More than I expected of the latter have actual dates on the letters and cards, some old fashioned letter writers! If the material had envelopes, I was often able to retrieve dates from the postmarks. However, not everything still had the envelopes. Some of those that did were sent as part of a group package, so the individual envelopes themselves would not have any postmarks. This allowed me to at least separate the correspondence divided so far into separate folders: dated and undated.

With the papers, organizing into chronological order also helps in discovering duplicate copies as well as pages that had become separated from others. It also allowed to get a sense of narrative from her journalistic career with two separate deployments and her family and personal life. Early letters from her brother, he was still in school. Later letters would be him discussing his own training in the Air Force and life spent away from home.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Day 5

Day 5
Thelma L. Meyer Petty Papers
Went over my work on this collection with my supervisor. I alerted her to the issues regarding the miss-spelled name on the label, the mysterious telegram, and the lack of corroboration on the date of death and her married name.

"What," she smiled, "you don't think a sticky note is a reliable source of information?"

I told her my idea of an avenue of research. This collection did have one potential source of information not normally available, a Social Security number. Just that in this day and age of identity theft, I was not sure how readily available or accessible that information would be. She gave me the go ahead to see what I could find using that.

It turns out, there is the Social Security Death Index. Strangely, it is more readily available through genealogical websites than the .gov one. As I did not want to create an account for the genealogical websites, the information returned was basic but it did confirm the date of death, the place of death, and her married name of Petty. Unfortunately, the information did not help in finding a copy of her actual obituary, full name of her husband, or post-WWII life.

Afterwards, I was tasked with typing up my collection and biographical notes in a more formal format, using a guide in the archives handbook. We took the WAAC poster in her collection to the digital lab to be scanned and then stored it in an oversize box. I was shown where it and the artifacts such as the badges and medal would be stored. I was struck then that when it comes to the archives, the difference between libraries and museums are blurred. The difference appears to be one mainly of general and primary emphasis of the institution.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Day 3 & 4

The Thelma L. Meyers Petty Papers
This collection was relatively small but had a few interesting things to recommend it. Thelma Meyer was a WAC serving as a driver out of Washington, DC during World War II. In addition to newspaper clippings, and personal correspondence and some related paperwork of her military career, it also had some "artifacts" such as personal items she collected, some of her patches from her uniform, her good conduct badge and ribbons, uniform pins, as well as copies of her discharge papers and social security card. There was also a post-it note that gave her birth date and date of death and her married name of "Petty".

Unlike many other collections, this was part of a group that my supervisor's predecessor had bought off of eBay. Included were copies of the eBay listing.

Much of the scant biography information was on her discharge papers. It had her date of birth, her enlistment date into the WAC as well as listing when she joined the WAAC prior to its dissolution. Part of the collection was also a diary she kept as a driver in the motor pool. A multi-year diary, it was designed that a page would cover the same date over several years which did not leave much room for exposition. She lived up to the challenge as an entry would simply be "stayed home, did laundry." Or, "picked the captain up at 3pm, drove to base." More interesting were the letters. None that she wrote, but letters to her. Mostly from other WAC/WAAC that she had met in training or on the job and now stationed elsewhere. Several were from a young soldier stationed in Italy.

One of the things I picked up pretty quickly as I was trying to make sure I recorded the name correctly in my notes of the contents was that while the name on the collection box is as I typed above, the name on all the materials was actually "Meyer", no "s". Also, nothing in the collection beyond some unemployment papers mentioned her life after service, especially in relation to her married name and date of death recorded on the post-it note. Knowing there were sites that recorded obituaries and this had her death in the year 2000, it was recent enough to have possibly migrated to the web but not recent enough to be almost automatic. I tried various searches using both maiden and married name, with the middle initial, without, with the whole middle name and even as middle name, last name combinations. Her place and date of birth was confirmed by her discharge papers which allowed me to weed out various positive results. I found nothing tied to her. I made note of it to ask my supervisor who was at a conference this week.

Another oddity that stuck out was a telegram addressed to a "Mrs. Thelma G. Meyer" in California. Notice that it as Meyer as her married name as well as the wrong middle initial. It also has her in California when all the other information indicated that Kansas was her permanent home. This raised the question in my mind of how sure we could be of some of the items were from the "right" Thelma Meyer as we did not know where the seller obtained it or how this telegram wound up in the collection.

In wanting to describe the patches more accurately beyond a simple description and hoping that it would correspond to what we knew and possibly gather more biographical information I again went to the internet. Basically typed in the description of the patch and then clicked on "images" to see if the returns matched. I got 2 out of 4 by this method (one of the ones remaining was her sergeant stripes, something I did not need to look up). One, a golden eagle in a golden ring was commonly called the "ruptured duck", a typical military styled slang to call something by a cruder, more derogatory name. The fourth one, I could find similar images, enough to decide it was a "service command" patch but nothing specific. I ended up finding it as part of a group of other patches when looking for something else. They all corresponded to what we knew of her career and where she was stationed from the other materials.

However, what struck me when doing this research was how much easier the internet has made this kind of research. Identifying the badges just 20 years ago would have been much more difficult. As I am working out of a University library, it is possible I could have tracked down some related books that might have had images of uniforms and patches. I am also a decent enough artist that I could quickly sketch reasonable likenesses to arm myself with as I scoured various books on the shelves so as not to cart the actual artifacts around. Failing that, it's possible I could have used the phone to find "expert"authority and possibly fax them copies of the sketches. Either way, what I was able to do in about 30 minutes to an hour could easily have taken hours if not days to retrieve the same information. Possibly, we would have just left the description as "sergeant stripes and three military patches".

Now, as this collection came off of eBay and was packed and shipped to us, one would expect that dividing the materials would be pretty straight forward, there is going to be little left in the order that would actually be an issue of maintaining original provenance. For the most part, this was true. However, the diary did contain a few small newspaper clippings of some jokes and sayings, and a calendar card with some personal notations. I made a note of these and left them in the diary where I found them.

By the end,  I had the collection well divided up and described. I had made copies of the loose newspaper clippings on "acid-free" paper, and penciled in the date and paper it was from on the one clipping that had that information on the back side. And, I had a few notes/questions to bring attention to: the spelling of "Meyer" on the box, the lack of corroboration on her married name and date of death on the post-it note, and the "wrong" telegram. As I thought about it more later, I had an idea of an avenue that might at least verify the date of death.

Day 4
 The Rachel Ann Brune Papers
After finishing up what was left of of the Petty collection at that point in the process, I started on the Rachel Brune collection. Where the Petty and Woodall collections were already in a simple box to hold folders, this collection fills a plastic bin and another flat box as well. While there is a simple description of the collection, much of it is in the envelopes and folders it was given to us.

What makes this collection so big and a more daunting undertaking than I first realized it would be is two-fold. One, she is a recent veteran. Moved by the events of 09/11, she enlisted and served as an MP and journalist. Because, she is a contemporary, she still has much of the stuff that was gathered, the letters and cards sent to her while serving, etc. Second, as mentioned, she served as a journalist. And, she worked as a journalist before and after her two deployments. There is a book of poetry and thoughts she wrote afterwards. Clippings and papers of the small community papers she wrote and took pictures for beforehand, and clippings of articles that she sent to them while she worked. A yearbook of the MP paper she edited, wrote and took pictures for as well as multiple copies of the loose editions (most of which we probably don't need as it duplicates what's in the book), some other military papers her articles appeared in. The loose box contains even more newspapers which even at this point in the writing, I've yet to look at!

I adopted a top-down method, going through the items at the top and work my way down. I first went through the yearbook and then her community papers and made more detailed notes, noting what pages had her articles as well as where she only had photo credits. I figure this will be an aide to future researchers as describing which parts are particularly relevant to the person of Rachel Brune. One folder already had miscellaneous papers relating to the Hatara Project where she did some aerial photography, though little of her actual work that was brought about.

From her writings and photography, I moved to loose correspondence and papers. I began to separate them out. It is a lot. Her father wrote her almost every week and her brother almost as often. Her new boyfriend and later fiance and other friends and relatives a little less often. She received clippings of various articles, almost at random. She seemed to be a popular choice for school kids and strangers to write, letters beginning I am a friend of the family of General So-and-so. I learned that her father and brother both are writers and all three are musicians.

If the previous collections seemed a bit scarce on information due to the years, here I have almost too much. She is only a little over ten years younger than me and the clippings and events are of things I remember well. The cards from her boyfriend are sparse in total words but intimate in meaning as serious new relationships tend to be. Each letter from her brother and father would be pages and are frank and open with emotions and contents. Even simply scanning through, I begin to know more about her and her family than I do many of my close friends. It almost seems voyeuristic in a way.

Yet, it makes me think of how a half century from now, a future researcher won't have that same sense of immediacy. Reading these bits won't be different than my reading a letter from one of the Woodall sisters lamenting how her marriage didn't work and she wasn't sure about dating again, at least not while she was in the service and the War was going on.

By the end of the day, the correspondence folder is already bulging and I am not even halfway through.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Day 2

Day 2
Rachel Brune Papers.
 I started off my second day typing up the preliminary description of items in the collection of the Rachel Brune Papers and the notes taken from an oral interview. Rachel Brune was an MP and journalist in Iraq. In looking up some of the information to make sure I was getting the spelling and terminology correct, I also discovered that as a civilian she is still writing articles related to the military life and perspective. This is a big collection and I will be working on it further. But, this gives a general overview of what the collection contains and some of the biographical data to be used.

The Woodall Sisters Collection.
This is a collection that the materials had already been sorted. My job was to go through each of the folders and describe the materials that were contained. This would require to use my own judgment on how detailed a description I thought was merited on items. For example, much of the correspondence was from the sisters to family members over general matters and life, not really needing to draw attention to. However, one letter from the sister stationed overseas talked about hearing the news of President Franklin Roosevelt and how it affected those around her, which I felt deserved of mentioning specifically.

From what I can tell about the collections that I will be working on, this collection is also a bit unusual in that it concerns two people instead of one. This made going through the materials a little difficult in remembering which sister was which, especially when referred to by their married names. When it came to their photographs, I could generally not tell them apart unless they were actually in uniform or through context (the two sisters served in different capacities, one as part of the WAAC and the other as a Navy nurse).

Another part of the job, as I went through the collection, I made notes of dates and significant benchmarks of their lives in order to be made use of when the time comes to write up brief biographies to accompany it.

I also made copies of the few news clippings that were part of the collection.An interesting one was a humorous take on how a husband was being left to fend for himself in the kitchen as his wife was shipping out for the War. Different times.

Overall, this was a good collection to start with. Already separated, it gave me a good idea of how materials are generally divided and grouped. It was good practice at reviewing the items and deciding how they related to the person, the collection, the overall Women Veterans Project and keeping in mind the potential researchers and users. It had a variety of materials but still small enough to pretty much work through in one day.

I am discovering that one of the joys of the job is being able to take the time to actually look at the material and to do further research if needed. Being able to quickly scan something to see if worth reading more fully in order to figure out relevance and if it has information to be used in the biographies is a bit novel. If you're lucky, a sense of the person, a narrative of their lives builds as you go through the material. My prior jobs in publishing as well as being part of the digital lab of the book conservatory, taking the time to read or research the material is generally counter-productive, no matter how tempting a phrase or name that jumps out might prove.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Day 1

For my Practicum, I am working in the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections at UNC-G, specifically for the Women Veterans Historical Project. The project initially started focusing on women with a connection to UNC-G. From 1919 to 1931, the school was known as the North Carolina College for Women, and then from 1932 to 1963, the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina. The project now encompasses women who have served or still serving in the military from all over the United States. Its place on the University website is here:

Day 1.
The first day started off pretty much as the first day on any job: getting familiar with company policies, the handbook, and an introduction to the work area and tasks. As I am not getting paid, I was at least spared the paperwork of filling out various forms.

The readings started off with giving a general history of the University from its founding, to the days as a women's college (reflected by the bust of Minerva/Athena on their logos) to its current incarnation being co-ed and part of the University of North Carolina system. The reading started to bog down when it started covering the important but somewhat tedious legal issues of misconduct ie how it is reported, handled, reviewed, tried, the possible punishments as well as what it all means for those that are victims or perpetrators. Good to know that procedures are in place, but not the most interesting of reading.

Archiving: Concepts and Practices
The reading moved on to getting a grounding in the practices of working in special collections and archives. Some of this had been covered in my classes as well as concepts that I've picked up from working in publishing and more recently the book conservatory. However, there were some practical tips that were good to keep in mind, such as when possible, carefully removing metal staples and paper clips and replacing them with plastic ones. Also a few surprises such as making copies of newspaper clippings and discarding the originals (so far, I've let someone else do the discarding, starting out, I don't feel comfortable throwing anything away).

The concept that really struck me was that in determining the grouping for a set of records, keep the original provenance if at all possible. At times, this may mean to try to discover and re-establish the order already there. Now, much of the stuff that comes in may be jumbled together, or the order they are in is not the one of the person that did the original collecting, but of the people who inherited and donated the collection. But, what also struck me is that on the first day, I came across reading about the ideal and knowing first-hand that it is not always followed, not even by universities and organizations that should know better.

It just so happened that earlier that week at work, I was given the task of arranging in chronological order turn-of-the-20th-Century receipts, bills, and relating correspondence from Lombard College. Some of these had been stapled together and the order from our client was to remove the staples and arrange the individual elements into the "proper" order. However, all of the stapled or paper clipped or pinned pieces were put together for a reason, and one that was usually apparent. Once separated, some of the items no longer had dates on them, and their notations would become meaningless. Others would be a bill and the paid-receipt that had been placed together, but would now be far apart in the order as months between the two could have passed. In a couple of instances, it disrupted what proved to be interesting narratives as the packet would include bills, copies of bills, letters to and from the recipient who was challenging the bill and then letters involving lawyers! This ongoing story lasted over a year and is now scattered among the other various receipts. We had to go out of our way to separate some of the documents as some papers were actually glued together and we had to send those to the restoration department.

Still, the ideal struck me as particularly important and I wrote a half page of notes concerning respecting the provenance and original order as opposed to imposing what may seem to me a logical but is actually an arbitrary order. 

Women in the Military
My last readings were a brief overview of the history of the U.S. military, and the historical and ongoing roles of women in the military forces. Also covered are how the branches are divided and the progression of women's roles in each. As I work through this project, I expect to become more fully versed in this area and to refer back to these readings to decipher some of the military's love of acronyms. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015


My name is Edward Lee Love and I am currently attending the University of North Carolina Greensboro, pursuing a Masters degree in Library and Information Studies. For the summer of 2015, I am doing a Practicum where I will be working with Special Collections at Jackson Library on campus. This blog will be chiefly devoted to the issues that arise out of that.

Personal History
Our points of views are unique to our individual histories and backgrounds. As someone that has been working for many years in the publishing field, my p.o.v. is different from someone pursuing their Masters right after getting their Bachelors. It is a blow to the ego to be informed that the year I graduated from UNC-CH was the year some of my fellow students were born! So, I think it is important to understand a bit of the journey that has brought me to this place.

 I have a BS in Journalism from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I worked for 18 years with The News & Observer, first in their Pre-Press department where I typeset and pasted up ads, pages, and scanned in photographs and art for paste-up of advertising and news pages. As the industry moved to become more digital, I saw the dismantling of the traditional Pre-Press department. I moved first to Photography where I was part of a team scanning and toning photographs, negatives, and slides for publication. I then moved to the Classified department where my role and challenges expanded and became more creative. In addition to scanning, I created maps for ads, I set procedures for colorizing graphics, created a graphic library for graphics that were used most often or pieces that could be utilized for creating photo art. I worked with the Head Image Tech of the Photo department to establish quality control standards such as consistent monitor calibration. I steadily tried out new hardware, software, and processes and made recommendations on integrating them into our daily routines. I trained new hires and created and led a class in Basic Photoshop that was open to all employees. I still look back in pride that many of the people I trained excelled in their jobs, some moving on to leadership roles in different departments and even different companies. When we ran contests of every Image Tech (and a few supervisors) toning the same photograph which then was printed, it was consistently either myself or one of my two evening back-ups that scored the highest for best quality.

In 2008, the company had massive lay-offs due to outsourcing their creative staff. For the next few years, I did freelance work as well as several operations with the US Census.

In 2010, I got married and made Greensboro, NC my permanent residence.

In 2011, I found myself back at the N&O, working part-time in what was once simply referred to as "Plate-making" but now called Pre-Press. I output PDFs to film, troubleshoot problem pages, monitored and managed workflow.

Looking to reinvent and reposition myself, I looked at my interests and the areas of my career that gave me most fulfillment. In the fall of 2013, I began to work on obtaining my Masters in Library and Information Studies at The University of North Carolina Greensboro while also continuing to work.

In the spring of 2014, I left the N&O to take a job with the HF Group, a book and document conservatory out of Brown Summit, NC.  I was originally hired to work on old Supreme Court casebooks dating from the late 1800s to the early/mid 1900s. I scanned pages, would develop a processing script, and then proof the processed pages for any that needed individual adjusting. I also would have to individually adjust fold-out pages and pages with photos and artwork reproduction. In between Supreme Court books, I would do similar work for various deed books and special requests from other departments. When that work slowed, I moved to the digital lab and worked on various digitization projects such as high school yearbooks, band flyers, and doctorate dissertations. That winter, the company had lay-offs simply due to lack of work.

As the Spring Semester of 2015 closed, I started back at the HF Group on a part-time basis. I had also set up to do a Practicum through school at Jackson Library in their Special Collections.