Behind the Curtain is a series highlighting IU Archives staff, partners from various departments of the IU Libraries, and students who make all of our work possible. Continue to follow over the coming months to read how and who make the magic happen!
Role: EAD Assistant at the IU Archives and the Lilly Library
Educational Background: BA in Linguistics from Haverford College in Pennsylvania; Current MLS student with a specialization in archives and records management
How she got here: Elizabeth started working in archives as an undergraduate at Haverford College. She loved her experience so much that she decided to pursue archives further. One of her favorite things about working in the archives at Haverford was gaining a connection to the broader College community through learning about other people who had been there. At IU, as a graduate student, she knew it would be harder to make personal connections to the institution. By working in the University Archives, she feels that she can gain that sort of connection through interacting with the community’s history.
Elizabeth has had internships at the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, MA, the National Anthropological Archives in Washington, DC, and the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies in Philadelphia, PA. At IU, Elizabeth previously worked as an Archives Assistant at the IU Archives last fall, and has been the EAD Assistant since January 2015.
Favorite item in the collection: Elizabeth’s favorite items in the IU Archives’ collection are D. Joan Neff scrapbooks. She had lots of fun processing them, because each page turned yielded a new surprise. One page squished a bit, and there she discovered a (70-year-old) cookie. Another page made an odd swishing sound, and there were some dried roses. She notes that the best part is that, in addition to being anecdotally exciting, the scrapbooks really are a valuable resource for learning about student experiences during the late 1940s.
Current projects: Elizabeth serves as the EAD Assistant for the IU Archives and the Lilly Library. She encodes the online finding aids for these two repositories.
Favorite experience in the IU Archives: Elizabeth enjoyed when the descendants of Carrie Parker, the first African-American woman to attend IU, came to visit the archives. She was staffing the desk in the reading room at the time, and found it was really exciting to be confronted with the sort of power archives can have when they insist on valuing and appreciating the accomplishments of people who might otherwise consider themselves perfectly ordinary.
What she’s learned from working here: Elizabeth has been impressed by the extent that IU has grown over the past century. She once came across a story from the 1950s about a dispute over whether a particular house was in the Bloomington town limits or not. Looking at the address, she realized that she lives even further from campus than that address, yet her apartment is definitively within town limits.