Behind the Curtain: Hannah Osborn

Photograph of graduate student Hannah Obsorn standing on a ladder in from of an exhibit case. 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. 

Role at the IU Archives: Hannah works as a graduate student processor at the IU Archives. Her work includes the arrangement and description of new collections and supporting departmental outreach efforts such as exhibits and social media. Soon Hannah will begin a new full-time position at IU as the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture, and Design Administrative Assistant.

Educational background: Hannah graduated with her BFA from IU in 2014, majoring in studio photography with a minor in art history. After taking a few years off, she decided to return to IU to pursue a graduate education. In May she received her Master’s in Art History.

Previous archival experience: Hannah had very little archival experience before joining the IU Archives, but going through a research-heavy graduate program was invaluable when organizing collections and anticipating the ways in which researchers will need to access and utilize the materials that are being processed. The experiences she had while working for the Grunwald Gallery of Art between undergraduate and graduate programs also provided helpful insights when approaching the curatorial aspects of archival work.

What attracted her to work in the IU Archives: One of her graduate cohort brought the opening to her attention. Hannah was looking for a job opportunity that she would be able to balance with finishing her thesis. The ability to work with peoples’ personal ephemera, their material legacy, really drew her. She has always been someone who is incredibly sentimental when it comes to the objects and words people leave behind.  She is also hoping to enter the curatorial field and the ability to widen her skill set here at the Archives – learning things like archival management basics, digital preservation, and encoding- was very appealing when trying to diversify her experience for the job hunt.

Black and white photograph of Alma Eikerman and a student seated side-by-side at a work table. Eikerman is demonstrating a technique for the student.
Alma Eikerman with student, IU Archives image no. P0025305

Favorite item or collection in the IU Archives: Hannah loves the  newsletters of former IU professor and metalsmith, Alma Eikerman in the Alma Eikerman Papers. They are written much like a “family Christmas newsletter,” with Eikerman proudly filling her readers in on what her students and alumni are up to – solo shows, fellowships, marriages, the births of children. The newsletters reveal how much Eikerman treasured her students and found joy in their success. For her, teaching was not something that ended when summer came. It was a lifelong relationship with those who came to pursue metalsmithing and jewelry design at IU.

Black and white photograph of film brochures for the program "Frog Anatomy"
Audiovisual Program Materials on Anatomy, 1964. IU Archives image no. P0080381

Project she’s currently working on:  Hannah currently has two projects going. She has been working on processing a large collection of printed materials, correspondence, and documentation which accompanied educational films housed in the former IU Audio Visual Center. The films are now a part of IU Libraries Moving Image Archive, and the goal is to make the accompanying documentation of these programs accessible as well. She is also assisting Outreach and Public Services Archivist, Carrie Schwier, in curating an exhibition centering on Alma Eikerman’s pedagogical legacy. The exhibit which is part of the three-part “Lineage Ladders: A Legacy of Faculty Excellence” opened today in the Herman B Wells Library Scholars’ Commons and is open through October 25, 2019.

Black and white photograph of three men unpacking artwork of the Thai exhibition. They are surrounded by wooded crates, and two sculptures of the Buddha are visible.
Theodore Bowie at the delivery of “The Arts of Thailand” Exhibition, 1960. IU Archives image no. P0033170

Favorite experience in the IU Archives: One of the best experiences for Hannah involved a blog post she wrote about Theodore Bowie, an art historian specializing in Asian Art. She found Bowie very inspiring in his fearlessness and in the adventurous spirit with which he pursued his career, and wrote that a section of his memoir had brought her a lot of hope. One of his daughters commented on the blog, saying that she enjoyed reading the account of her father. That was an incredible reminder of the deeply personal nature of archival materials and the way they carry so much memory and history, especially for the families who choose to donate a beloved family members legacy in the form of their papers.

Something she’s learned about IU by working in the Archives:  Learning about the intricacies of the preservation of digital materials has been fascinating for Hannah. She is also intrigued by the issues /opportunities archivists are facing in preserving correspondence and interactions in the age of social media. These are issues which are also affecting the preservation and display strategies of new media in art museums and galleries.

Behind the Curtain: Casey Burgess

This is a color photograph of a student in a graduation cap and gown. She is seated in the front of the archway of the IU Sample Gates and is surrounded by red and white tulips. 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. 

Title and Role: Casey is a processor who focuses on ingesting, organizing, and describing the digitized media delivered by MDPI (the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative). Casey will leave us soon for a position with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Archives! Congratulations to both Casey and the LA Phil – she will be a terrific asset to their program!

Educational background: Casey got her undergraduate degree in Music focusing in vocal performance and music history from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI and just recently graduated from IU with her Master’s in Library Science.

Previous archival experience: Before coming to IU, Casey did a summer internship at the Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin, Ireland. In her MLS program here, she did several classes in the Archives and Records Management track, did some archival work with MDPI, and put on an exhibit in collaboration with the Archive of Traditional Music.

What attracted her to work in the IU Archives:  Casey has always been interested in working in an archive since her experience in Ireland. She also realized she knew very little about IU’s history, even though she had been here for two years. Working in the IU Archives was the perfect opportunity to get practical experience doing archival work in an academic institution while also learning more about IU along the way.

This is a black and white photograph of a group of 5 individuals who are each holding their Oscar award. Three men wearing suits stand to the right, while 2 women one standing and the other seated on a stool are to the left.
Oscar winners in “School of the Sky”, May 15, 1948. IU Archives image no. P0052037

Favorite item or collection in the IU Archives: She worked on the Indiana School of the Sky Collection as part of her role with MDPI. Casey really loved listening to these recordings of radio shows from the 1940’s which were intended to teach young students in Indiana about all sorts of things related to science, art, history, literature, and more. She thought it was fascinating to hear what they taught then and  how similar or dissimilar education is today.

Project she’s currently working on: Casey is working on ingesting recordings done by Herman B Wells in the 1970s related to his autobiography “Being Lucky”. At this point she has completed 69 recordings, but still has a few more to go. Watch for an upcoming blog post for more details on this project!

Favorite experience in the IU Archives: Her favorite experience in the Archives has been working on the MDPI recordings. She’s seen almost every part of the process for MDPI, but thinks that access is still the most exciting part. Being able to organize these recordings, which often contain golden nuggets of information, and know that this will help someone down the road is really exciting for her. Plus, she gets to listen to them!

Black and white photograph of a seated football player.
Preston Eagleson, 1895. IU Archives image no. P0022468

Something she’s  learned about IU by working in the Archives:  She’s learned so much by working in the Archives that it’s really hard to choose just one thing. While working on a post for Instagram back in February, Casey learned about Preston Emmanuel Eagleson, who was the first Black person on an athletics team at IU in 1892. More importantly, he was the second Black person to receive an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and then the first to receive a graduate degree from IU. Several generations of his family returned to IU as well. To her, these stories about individuals are the most fascinating and shed a lot of light about the communities at IU.

Behind the Curtain: Katie Morrison, Archives Assistant

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. 

What is your role in the IU Archives? Katie works as a processor in the IU Archives.  She helps with the arrangement and description of record collections.

What is your educational background? Katie’s educational background is rather impressive.  In 2012, She graduated with a BA from Purdue University, where she majored in Art History and minored in both English and History.  In 2014, she graduated from the University of Colorado with her MA in Art History.  She is currently working on obtaining her MLS with a specialization in Archives and Records Management. She will graduate in the summer of 2019. She was recently accepted into the PhD program in Information Science at IU and will start fall of 2019!

What previous experience do you have in archives? Her fascination with the archival field began at a young age.  This was due in part to her parents, both of whom are history professors.  This fascination followed her into adulthood, all the way to the University of Colorado.  While working on her master’s thesis, Katie spent a fair amount of time with the Jerome P. Cavanaugh Papers and Detroit Free Press photographs at the Walter Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs.  Though she had enjoyed her previous use of online archival resources, it was this experience that held the greatest impact on her.  “It was pretty much the transformative experience of my life…. that hands-on experience was big for me,” says Morrison.

What attracted you to work in the IU Archives? Katie approached the IU Archives after some encouragement from other student workers to apply.  “I knew this would be the best place on campus to get hands-on processing knowledge, and everyone I met was instantly encouraging and warm”, she says.  It would also seem that she has found camaraderie with several co-workers who also happen to be Boilermakers.  “Go Purdue!”

Favorite item or collection in the IU Archives? The Leon Varjian papers are Katie’s favorite collection in the IU Archives.  “IU is fortunate to have such great documentation of counterculture happenings on campus in the 1960s and 1970s. Varjian’s cartoon map of Bloomington as “Fun City” reminds me of some of my favorite irreverent counterculture art collectives like Drop City. It’s smart without being pretentious, funny, and inherently political.”

What project are you currently working on? Katie curated an installed an exhibit here, “Thomas Sebeok and the Scientific Self,” using materials from his collection (she is also close to finishing the processing of that collection). She wanted to show how Sebeok brought together a range of disciplines in his scholarship. “There remains such a mystique about how academics think and work, and I wanted to demystify that a bit while still acknowledging his prolific intellect.” The exhibit is open through the end of March.

Favorite experience in the IU Archives? Despite being a “cynical person”, Katie says that every week brings a new favorite experience.  “Everything from reading letters written in the 19th century, to installing an exhibition, to encoding finding aids…it’s all a joy,” she says. She particularly enjoys assisting with outreach and class sessions with undergraduates.

What is something you have learned about IU by working in the Archives? Overall, Katie has learned that IU has a deep and rich history.  The knowledge of this history would not be possible without the hard work put in by the University Archives and its affiliates.  “The diversity of materials and stories contained in this archive is extraordinary. People may think a university-centered archive would be a) dull or b) small and boutique-like. Really, it is the opposite! The IU Archives has a kaleidoscope of times, materials, perspectives, and experiences to share.”

Behind the Curtain: Jennifer Liss, Head of Monographic Image Cataloging

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. 

Title and Role: Jennifer is the Head of Monographic Image Cataloging for the Cataloging Department at the Herman B Wells Library. The Cataloging Department helps IU Libraries’ users discover the collections curated, purchased, and licensed by IU Libraries through tools such as IUCAT, WorldCat, Archives Online, Image Collections Online, and Media Collections Online.

Educational background: Jennifer wanted to study everything as an undergraduate, which is perhaps why she was an English major, with a heavy focus in Anglo-Irish literature, and minors in history and biology. While earning her B.A. at Rutgers, Jennifer spent a few weeks in Ireland and became fascinated with special collections and, to her surprise, the art of science of special collections librarianship. She moved to Bloomington to complete a M.L.S. degree with the rare books and manuscripts specialization at Indiana University.

Work Experience: As a graduate student at IU, Jennifer had the good fortune of being able to work at the Chemistry Library, the E. Lingle Craig Preservation Lab, and the Owen County Public Library. Shortly after completing a fascinating cataloging internship at the Lilly Library, Jennifer accepted her first full-time appointment as a copy cataloger in the Wells Library Cataloging Department. Although it was not her initial plan to stay in the Midwest, she quickly learned that there was MUCH more to learn about cataloging and metadata—and IU is one of the best public universities in the Unites States to do just that. Jennifer worked as an original cataloger before accepting a faculty appointment as a Metadata/Cataloging Librarian, where she managed multiple digital collections metadata projects. In what has proven to be the biggest surprise in her career thus far, Jennifer found that she loved managing processes and helping her colleagues succeed in their respective roles. She has worked as a Cataloging Department manager since 2013.

Work with the IU Archives: Jennifer has worked with IU Archives since 2011, when the Cataloging Department first began cataloging collections curated by IU Archives. She remembers that time fondly, not only because she got to play in the archives, but because it was her first real taste of developing metadata strategy in an environment that was new to her. Compared with books, archival collections have different description and access needs and Jennifer enjoyed learning more about how users of primary sources find information.

Favorite experience working with the IU Archives: Jennifer notes that “My favorite experience working with the IU Archives involved researching the history of the IU women’s residence halls in the early twentieth century. What I enjoyed most was the opportunity to collaborate with IU Archives colleagues on the Indiana University women’s residence hall scrapbooks. IU Archives staff possess an immense wealth of knowledge of institutional history and human stories. Their ability to weave these independent threads of knowledge together into a complex, many hued fabric representing the history and culture of Indiana University is an outcome of their rigorous professional training, extensive experience, and individual commitments to intellectual inquiry. Any day that I can head up to the Archives is a good day!”

C631 Women’s Residence Halls scrapbooks – Forest Folio, 1938-1939

Favorite item or collection in the IU Archives: There are so many contenders but among my favorite is C631 Women’s Residence Hall scrapbooks mentioned above. I appreciated learning more about what it was like to attend a university, particularly as a woman, in the decades leading up to World War II. Which parts of those experiences were unique to IU? Which were typical of American higher education during that time? Fascinating!

Current project that relates to working with the IU Archives: Next up in my cataloging queue is the Parks House publications. The collection includes humorous publications created by the male student residents of the Wright Quadrangle on the Indiana University Bloomington campus from 1960 through at least 1980. As a cataloging manager, I find my time not only devoted to cataloging but also finding ways to shift the Cataloging Department’s resources toward providing access to unique, special collections, like those of the IU Archives. This is no easy thing to do, given that Libraries acquires and licenses more and more electronic resources, while still building its rich physical collections.

Learned by working with the IU Archives: Working with IU Archives led to insights in an area of my professional interest, the history of library discovery technologies. Although much of the early history of IU Libraries was lost to fires, IU Archives remains the best repository for information about how the Libraries operated.

Behind the Curtain: Duncan King – Student Assistant, Digitization Projects

Duncan King, Undergraduate in the College of Arts and Sciences

What is your role in the IU Archives?
Duncan assists in the extensive task of digitizing items that are part of the University Archives collection.  These items vary from entire subject folders of important faculty and alumni papers to collections of documents on specific topics.  Duncan also helps with patron and researcher needs by scanning requested items, such as articles from old student publications, or the CV from a lecturer who visited IU nearly a century ago.  That’s pretty amazing when you think about it!

What is your educational background?
While many of the student workers at the Archives are MLS graduate students, it’s not unusual to have students from other backgrounds as employees. Duncan is currently an undergraduate just finishing his freshman year.  He is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Central Eurasian Studies (CEUS) and is working on his degree in Tibetan History and Culture. Next year he plans to continue his education closer to family in California.

What previous experience do you have in archives?
During high school, Duncan spent much of his time in the school’s darkroom and photo lab.  While poking around the library storage closet, he found a bag containing photo slides from the mid-seventies.  During his senior year, he undertook the task of scanning and uploading the slides so that they were accessible to alumni.  Many of the photos showed the racial conflict and unity that existed in Seattle’s inner-city high schools during that time period.  Duncan found joy in knowing that his work was helping to preserve the scenes captured in these long-forgotten images.

What attracted you to work in the IU Archives?
Duncan’s attraction to the Archives was inspired by the previously mentioned digitization project. “I’ve always had a love for history,” says Duncan, “so working in the archives was a perfect way to combine that interest with a newfound passion for preservation. Documents come with their own challenges and victories, and I’ve really enjoyed learning how to tackle a new medium.”

Favorite item or collection in the IU Archives?
With the extensive number of items in possession of the IU Archives, it’s never easy to pick just one as a favorite, and Duncan agrees that this was a rather tough question to answer.  Nevertheless, he managed to decide on an item.  There exists in the collection a letter from the then Interim President Herman B Wells to Governor Paul V. McNutt (also the namesake of McNutt Residence Hall).  In this letter, Wells essentially states that he is uncertain of his ability to handle the presidency, and asks McNutt to relieve him of it. Duncan explains why he chose this item in the following statement: “I love this letter because it adds a very human dimension to the legend of Herman B Wells; knowing he had to overcome some adversity, that he had to work to win the love of the university he would spend the rest of his life at, makes me respect him even more.”

What project are you currently working on?
Duncan’s current project focuses on digitizing some of the papers of Kate H. Mueller, who served as the Dean of Women from 1937-1969.  These papers were created during her first few years of service, and show the history of a very different time at IU, and the restrictions regarding female students. “Many of the documents relate to privileges such as staying out past curfew (lights out at 11:00 for freshmen!), or the problem of fraternity men keeping everyone awake.”  Apparently, fraternity members would spend their nights serenading female students into the hours of the early morning.  “What’s most clear in the documents is how much Dean Mueller cared about the students she was responsible for, as she and President Wells worked together to help struggling students stay in school and make the grades they needed to remain enrolled.”  These documents certainly sound like they would be worth a read! To learn more about this collection, see the Dean of Women’s Office records!

Favorite experience in the IU Archives?
Every day opens Duncan to new experiences; each one his favorite.  “I know I’m going to learn something new about my university, and I have absolutely zero idea what that something might be!”

What is something you have learned about IU by working in the Archives?
The University Archives plays a crucial role in preserving the history of Indiana University.  There is something for everyone to learn at the Archives, whether the individual is staff, student, or a member of the community.  Student workers, in particular, learn many things about university history or practical knowledge of their studies.  What Duncan has learned has a very practical element.
“Honestly, I’ve been astounded at the amount of paper the University used to go through. Imagine every email, every short text or memo, or update on the progress of a project; not only did it need to be sent by paper, but a copy needed to be delivered to each recipient. The university still uses paper, don’t get me wrong, but we no longer need a sheet of paper just to acknowledge you received someone else’s sheet of paper that they sent you.”