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New Perspectives as Museum Studies Students Process Archives

Four students pursuing certificates in Museum Studies recently completed internships with The University Archives in the Spring 2012 Semester.  Krystal Rusk processed the records of WSUI/KSUI Broadcasting Services, Elizabeth Blind processed the Macbried Field Campus record, Kirsten Glover processed the record of the UI Early Childhood Education Center and Jessica Wittry processed the Murray (Fiske) Family Papers.  Students in libraries, archives and museum studies programs are increasingly finding value in crossing boundaries to find out how different institutions respond to similar concepts and problems.  We would like to thank them very much for their hard work and assistance and wish them well in the future.

Archives offered a unique perspective to complement the goals for each student.  Elizabeth Blind got caught up in the stories that unfolded as she worked, saying, “It taught me that no matter what collection you are working with it has a story to tell–even one mainly comprised of official proposals and budgets. One of the most enjoyable aspects of working with this collection for me was getting to know the people involved with the campus through their letters and correspondences. I really feel like I know Betty van der Smissen and Richard Holzaepfel, two of the campus directors, and enjoyed reading their letters following the establishment and continued maintenance of the Macbride Field Campus.”   She will pair her Museum Studies Certicate with her recently completed BA in Anthropology and minor in Art History working part-time this summer while volunteering at a local museum and applying to Art History masters programs for the fall of 2013.

Jessica Wittry will be a senior in the fall and is a double major in Anthropology and International Studies. She wanted to process a collection because,  “It seems like a very basic part of managing a museum. So many museums have a backlog of items that haven’t been processed, so no one knows exactly what they have and that is crucial in order to both take care of the artifacts and to create an exhibit from them.”  While she has not decided what kind of cultural heritage institution she’d like to work for, she says she learned a lot that applies to any kind of collection.  “In processing a collection I’ve learned about the basic care of manuscripts as well as how to document the collection through creating finding aids for the collection. I’ve also indirectly learned a little about the managerial work involved with running an archive as I would see others helping students use the collections for different types of research.”  Wittry said that one of the highlights for her was finding a letter that she realized came from president Grover Cleveland.  Though the handwriting is tough to make out it seems to involve a discussion of a Judge Parker and specifically mentions imperialism.  Can you help puzzle out what the letter says?

Handwritten letter from Grover Cleveland.