Student Snippets


A Day in the Life

As a first semester MLIS student, I would be the first to tell you that I don't have much experience with archival work.  Aside from volunteering in public libraries and a brief stint as a shelver in college, my only real exposure to archives was researching the Theatre and Performing Arts special collection at my undergrad's university archives.  I had the opportunity to hold a Shakespeare First Folio and other amazing artifacts, and got a little spoiled when it came to the joys of archival discovery.

When I volunteered to work several hours at the Brookline Historical Society for the REPS Day of Service 2014 this past Saturday, I didn't know what to expect.  Google Maps brought me to a little old house with a white picket fence, but thankfully the curators found me lurking in the backyard before I convinced myself that I was trespassing on a private residence.  In a small room in the back of what I learned was the historic Edward Devotion House, I was assigned two boxes from a new collection that they received from a long-standing Brookline family.  Tucked away in the corner, I was able to rummage through Box 15 (Religion) and Box 7 (Sports).


A photo from the day: I'm tucked away in the back corner with my first box and handy friend, Microsoft Excel. (Photo cred: @danbullman)

I felt as if I were going through my own grandparents' attic, sorting church directories and football game programs from the 1950s, my favorite of which featured a boy in an overlarge football helmet siting next to his patient basset hound.  There were also two scrapbooks of sports clippings from 1938 to 1941, lined with yellowing newspaper articles and black and white action photos.  I wasn't working with letters from King Henry VIII or Charlotte Bronte's manuscripts, but this was even better because these objects belonged to ordinary people, what they cared about, what they kept.  I could easily imagine the members of this family going to football games and keeping score with a blunt pencil, or hanging up a church calendar in their kitchen with all of their fellow parishioners' birthdays listed in neat little type, or pasting their varsity letter onto thin paper with pride.  I wonder if 75 years from now, someone will be sorting through my own papers, come across birthday cards, ticket stubs, and photo books that I've treasured and catch a glimpse of my life in the 2010s.

Thank you so much to Dan Bullman, curators Camile Arbogast and Jesus MacLean at the Brookline Historical Society, and everyone else that was involved in planning the REPS Day of Service!

I hope those of you in New England were able to participate in the REPS Day of Service in participating locations in Newton, Vermont, and Connecticut.  If you are interested in future opportunities to volunteer, I highly recommend following New England Archivists on Facebook and Twitter (@NEarchivists) or seeking out your local archivists association!