Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Working in an Archive

For LIS 438-Intro to Archival Methods, one of the required aspects is a 60-hour internship with an archive. For the class, Simmons helps you find an archive that will work well for your own situation based on your interests, transportation options, and where you live. I was assigned to work in the City of Boston Archives and Records Management Division with SLIS alum, Marta Crilly. For my internship, I was introduced to all of the other archivists within the office and they were all Simmons alumni which was really cool because it made me see just how big the alumni network is for SLIS. The City of Boston Archives has all the governmental records for the various divisions within the government like the fire department, police, and obviously the mayor’s office.

My project for this semester will be going through boxes of photos from Mayor Raymond Flynn’s administration from 1984 to 1993 which had previously had been digitized onto a Flickr account. Over the course of the 60 hours I’ll be working there, I’ll be taking the metadata already ascribed to these 500+ photos and transferring it to a shareable spreadsheet so that the information can be utilized in further digitization projects. In addition to this, the pictures have a large number of different people that interacted with the mayor at various events including famous people like Larry Bird and Harold Washington. Many of them are already featured in the metadata but some are unfortunately not because they may be an obscure figure to the digitizing archivist. Part of my internship will be helping to crowdsource information from Bostonians in the effort to help solve the mystery of who these individuals are and restore their names to these pictures.

It’s been a really useful experience so far getting to utilize the concepts I learned in the classes I took last semester and apply them to a real world issue. I could certainly see how some would find going through old photos to be a boring experience but by trying to solve who is in these photos, it’s almost like doing detective work which will hopefully continue to be a fun experience as the semester rolls on. My archival work is now starting and I’m excited to be able to apply the things I have learned so far in the classroom to real world work.