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: Processes collections within the IU Archives and Modern Political Papers Unit
Educational Background: BA in History and American Studies from Purdue University; Current MLS student with a specialization in archives and records management
How she got here: Katie’s favorite part of her undergraduate history classes was conducting research using primary materials. This interest led her to work at the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections as a student assistant. At Purdue, Katie assisted with the Purdue Oral History Project, inventoried 16mm film reels, and worked on a variety of digital projects. Because she enjoyed working with the amazing people and collections at Purdue, including the George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers, she decided to pursue an MLS at IU (although she remains a Boilermaker at heart).
Katie started working in the IU Archives as an Encoder for the Indiana University Faculty Council, but she switched to processing collections in January 2016. In the summer of 2016, Katie served as an Art Deco Trade Literature Research Intern with the Smithsonian Libraries at the National Museum of American History. At IU, Katie also worked for the Department of Information and Library as a special projects assistant and worked as a processor on the Richard G. Lugar Senatorial Papers team.
Favorite Collection in the IU Archives: Katie processed the Indiana University Folklore Archives records and collections. She considers it be one of the most amazing collections she will ever have the opportunity to work with. The collection is 32 boxes of folklore material collected over several decades from around the Midwest. There are files related to legends and stories from every county in Indiana, inappropriate college songs, multiple varients of modern horror legends, and jokes on almost every topic imaginable.
Current Project: Katie just finished processing the Indiana University Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology records and is now working on various folklore refiling projects.
Favorite experience in the IU Archives: Katie loved processing the John D. Alexander papers, a collection of Civil War letters. Alexander graduated from IU in 1861 and enlisted as a private in Company E 97th Regiment of the Indiana Volunteers in 1862. It is moving to read the letters he wrote home to his family during Sherman’s March to the Sea from November – December 1865. The collection has been digitized and is accessible online.
Katie also enjoys working with the fantastic IU Archives staff who serve as such great mentors!
What she’s learned from working here: Katie has learned quite a bit about the field of folklore from processing the Indiana University Folklore Archives records and collections, the Roger Mitchell collection of Micronesian folktales, and the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology records. Before working with these collections, she did not realize there was an entire system for organizing and classifying folktales, the Aarne–Thompson classification systems. The system was partly developed by Dr. Stith Thompson, a folklorist who taught at IU. Also, if the stories are to be believed, there are quite a few ghosts on IU’s campus!