Behind the Curtain: Elizabeth Peters, EAD 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. Continue to follow over the coming months to read how and who make the magic happen!

elizabeth_petersRole: 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.

C597 Doris Joan Richards Neff scrapbook, 1945-1946 which includes everything from dance cards, a cookie, a frog eye lens, and chewed gum

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.

 

Behind the Curtain: Katie Siebenaler, Bicentennial Graduate 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. Continue to follow over the coming months to read how and who make the magic happen!

Role: Student worker assisting the Bicentennial Archivist

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Katie with the the bound Board of Trustees minutes from 1837-1859

Educational Background: B.A. in History, B.A. in Humanities from Milligan College; Current MLS student with a specialization in archives and records management

How she got here: Katie found her way into the archives field by accident. In high school, Katie volunteered at her local public library, reshelving books and finding newspaper items for the archives’ vertical files. In college, she knew she wanted to work in public history so she set up a summer internship with the director of the museum at the local state university. However, when the director left the museum, Katie’s name was lost in the shuffle. Thinking she could find similar experience in an archive, she contacted the archivist at the public library, who she knew from her previous work, and inquired about opportunities.  He happily agreed and that summer she described a collection of photographs.

In her last semester of college, Katie completed an internship with the Milligan College archivist (an IU MLS graduate!).  She prepared an exhibit, scanned, and began processing a collection. Before graduating from Milligan, the college archivist put her in contact with Kate Cruikshank, Political Papers Archivist at IU. This led her to reach out to the IU Archives.

Katie came to IU to earn her MLS degree in the fall of 2015 and found work as a transcriber for the Board of Trustees minutes in the IU Archives and as a student worker for the Modern Political Papers. In the fall of 2016, she transitioned from transcribing to assisting with IU bicentennial projects.

First rendering of the Indiana University seal. It appears on page 97 of the July 21, 1841 manuscript minutes of the Board of Trustees.
First rendering of the Indiana University seal. It appears on page 97 of the July 21, 1841 manuscript minutes of the Board of Trustees.

Favorite item in the collection: The Board of Trustees minutes from 1837 to 1859. She worked on transcribing its 400+ pages from the end of 2015 until August 2016. Working with the minutes taught her the history of the beginnings of IU as well as how to read 19th century handwriting! Her favorite part of the official record (besides some scandalous accusations against the different presidents) was running across the hiring of Robert Milligan, the namesake of her undergraduate college.

Current projects: Katie works on all kinds of projects relating to the bicentennial. She recently added some scrapbooks to the GLBT support office records. She is currently processing the International Studies Collection and the Sesquicentennial Collection (and mastering spelling “sesquicentennial”). Another ongoing project is the Named Places project. For this project, Katie works from a list of named buildings to research the people behind those names. She also writes blog posts and answers reference questions.

Favorite experience in the IU Archives: Katie loves working with the staff. They are very knowledgeable and make great mentors, but they are also fun to work with. Plus, some of them make some great baked goods!

What she’s learned from working here: Katie feels like a semi-expert on IU in the antebellum age and during WWI, thanks to her transcription job. The Named Places project has taught her that what may appear to be an obscure dining hall or dorm may actually be named for someone with a fascinating history and connection to IU.

Behind the Curtain: Doug Sanders, IU Libraries Paper Conservator

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!

Title: Paper img_9948Conservator for IU Libraries Collections

Educational Background: BS in Chemistry and BFA from Tufts University & School of the Museum of Fine Arts; MA in Conservation from University of Northumbria, UK.

Previous Experience: Doug has worked in private conservation labs, university settings (Durham University, Carnegie-Mellon), and institutions such as the National Trust UK, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives, and the Indiana Historical Society.

Partnership role: Doug works with the aim of preserving the collections into the future. This service is provided by actively conserving collection materials and advising on access, exhibition and storage topics. Conservators bring knowledge of the materials archives are full of, and how they undergo change with time. Doug uses this information in active and passive ways to promote long-lasting collections. He enjoys the breadth and depth of the collections here at IU.

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C597 Doris Joan Richards Neff scrapbook, 1945-1946 which includes everything from dance cards, a cookie, a frog eye lens, and chewed gum

Favorite item in the collection: Scrapbooks! Whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’ve got a lot of ‘em!

Current IU Archives project: Surveying the condition of albums and scrapbooks to determine treatment priorities…and making a box for a football.

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Favorite experience: Working with the great staff and learning more about the University’s history.

What he’s learned from working with IU Archives’ collections: The trials and tribulations of starting and running a university in the 19th century, as revealed through early faculty accounts, President’s office records and other primary source materials.

Behind the Curtain: Dina Kellams, Director of the IU Archives

Behind the Curtain is a new series highlighting IU Archives staff, partners from various departments of the IU Libraries, and students who make all of our work possible. Follow over the coming months to read how and who make the magic happen! dsc_0428

Role: Director of the IU Archives

Educational Background: B.A. in English, B.A. in History from IU; MLS from IU

How she got here: Dina came to the Archives in 1999 as an intern and just never left.  She became interested in the field as an IU undergraduate while conducting research at the Lilly Library. She contacted the Archives to get some hands-on experience while earning her MLS and absolutely loved it. She says, “I would go home each day boring my poor husband with detailed descriptions of everything I did and saw that day.”

John C. Wilson's Diary,1857-1858
John C. Wilson’s Diary,1857-1858

Favorite item in the collection: A diary from a student in 1857. Dina loves materials that document student life. The diary includes great details about finding housing, classes, and interacting with the other students and faculty.

Current project: A major project that Dina has been working on for the past few years is a book about the IU Bloomington campus.  She has been working with colleague Carrie Schwier, Outreach and Public Services Archivist, and Terry Clapacs, Vice President Emeritus, on a book about the IU Bloomington campus. All of the writing has now been turned into the IU Press and they are in the final stage, photo selection.

Favorite experience in the IU Archives: While Dina was completing research for the book project, she stumbled across a 19th century headline about the first African American woman entering IU. Her name was Carrie Parker and her name had been forgotten here at the university. She started digging and found her family, including her son – now 100 years old! The University has since established a scholarship in her name, there are two commissioned portraits (one for the campus collection and one for the Neal Marshall Black Culture Center), and most importantly, her story is being shared. This is easily Dina’s favorite experience in the Archives.

What she’s learned from working here: In Dina’s time at the IU Archives, she’s learned that Indiana University has touched just about every corner of the world in one way or another.

A Place to Store My Memory in the Archives: The Reflections of an Intern

These days, people collect their memories on all sorts of mediums. With multiple places to share a thought, picture, or a video, memories easily become distorted to serve the purpose of the individual recording them. We’re human, we enjoy a good story…especially one told from our own point of view. When one’s story reaches the archives, however, it is transformed into its original form with the purpose of communicating truth. Placed on a timeline, and given an historical context, it becomes greater and more meaningful than even we could express in first telling it. This fact is something I have encountered multiple times in working with various collections at the I.U. Archives. The collections I worked with were, in a sense, boxed memories. Holding truly significant evidence of a time in an individual’s life, their story was left incomplete until given order and placed within the context of I.U.’s history.

I have had the pleasure of working with three collections of retired professors. Through each of them, I have had the opportunity to peek into their research, teaching styles, and even their personal lives. With them, I have learned many things, but most specifically the value in preserving a variety of backgrounds. Before the age of postmodernism, minority groups were rarely represented in archives across the world. Given this fact, archivists reevaluated their collecting policies, began to question their personal biases, and reached out to those whose stories originally went untold. Being aware of my responsibility to these individuals, I first acquainted myself with them. I would research their lives either within obituaries or even Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. Getting a sense of who they were helped me appraise and organize their collections. After being invested in a professor’s collection for a few weeks, it became hard to let one go and pick up another. However, with each collection I refined my skills and learned something new.

Along with managing collections, I was given a chance to see where archives are needed within an academic community. After the passing of one of I.U.’s esteemed chancellors, Byrum Carter, the President’s Office decided to hold a memorial in his honor. The individuals working on the project turned to the archives requesting access to his collection. My job was to collect a variety of images from his career and share them with other collaborators. I was also expected to provide an outline of his career including his early life, academic life, professional career, and achievements. Carter was a very involved administrator. During a time of enormous political upheaval on college campuses across the nation, his demeanor and management style ensured Indiana University remain devoted to carrying out its mission of education, uninterrupted by the chaos of the world. I was moved by his career and was determined to honor his memory through my work.

My memory of the archives will be preserved in this short post. In the future, it may be categorized, associated with something great or something small, or deleted entirely. In any case, my experience here will be one I will cherish. I have had a chance to experience what it means to be an archivist and work with some of the most helpful, encouraging people in the library. If one day I am fortunate enough to call myself an archivist and mentor a student, I will use the example of my supervisors to help her reach her full potential and follow her dream.

If you would like to a more detailed account of Jessica’s experience in the archives, feel free to visit her website