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Simmons Archive Student Special Project, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Boston, MA

Massachusetts Eye and Ear began in 1824, when two young doctors named John Jeffries and Edward Reynolds decided to take it upon themselves to treat the eye diseases of the Boston poor at a free public clinic. It quickly became apparent that the need was great and that they should expand the endeavor in terms of space, manpower, and services. Jeffries and Reynolds were able to rally a group of Boston's wealthy donors to support their dream of a new hospital, and in 1827 the Governor approved an Act of Incorporation for the Massachusetts Charitable Eye and Ear Infirmary. The hospital soon became a magnet for ophthalmologists and otolaryngologists who wanted to practice the highest quality medicine and surgery. The hospital is today recognized as an international leader in clinical care, research, and education. 

The Abraham Pollen Archives contain the historical records and papers of the hospital, including Annual Reports from the 1800's to the present, many old case reports, an extensive photograph collection, a medical instrument collection, board records, and other hospital records. 

The focus of this project will be on the medical instrument collection. We have hundreds of instruments, dating back to the 1800's. Some of these are cataloged, in boxes, and recorded on spreadsheets, but many are not. The collection is currently in disarray, also there is a backlog of acquisitions that need to be processed. We need a plan to begin to gain greater intellectual control over our instrument collection, and we need to provide greater access to the treasures our Archives contain. The ultimate goal is enhanced access, knowledge and discoverability of MEE's unique collection. 



  • Conduct a survey of the collection. Compare actual inventory to what is on the spreadsheets.
  • In consult with the Library Director, write a processing plan.
  • Process instruments: appraise, rehouse materials as necessary; organize, arrange and describe. 
  • Research "unknown" instruments.
  • In concert with the Library Director, determine best path forward for deciding which instruments are historically important and so warrant retention. Weed out duplicates.
  • Create an online, searchable database of holdings.
  • Make long-term recommendations for preservation, conservation, and access.



  • Current enrollment at Simmons SLIS. Completed or currently enrolled in LIS 438.
  • Basic understanding of archival appraisal, arrangement, description, and preservation. 
  • Knowledge of archival and descriptive standards.
  • Knowledge of Omeka is preferred. Effective communication and writing skills. Strong organizational skills and careful attention to detail. Ability to take initiative and work independently with minimal supervision. Previous experience in processing collections is a plus. Have the ability to lift up to 40 lbs. 


Hours and Compensation: 

Hours will be between 8:30 am - 5:00 pm, Monday - Friday, one to two days a week. Student can set their own schedule within those hours, based on their class schedule. Salary is $15.00/hour with no benefits. 



Interested students should please contact Library Director Louise Collins with a resume and cover letter. 


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