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

Dual Degree Programs

Interning in the Outer Banks: An Archival Analogy

An analogy for archival work that they don’t teach you in 438 is this: archival processing is cleaning up other peoples’ messes. Without a key, without a blueprint, without any inkling of what, potentially, the original organizational system that the donor, maybe, possibly, hopefully attempted to follow for at least part of their document-generating life. You, the intrepid archivist must venture through boxes, pulling out sheaves of paper that seem to share nothing in common except the rusty paperclip holding them together, dusting your black pants with the glitter of deteriorating fax paper, and puzzling over the names of repeat characters in the documents like a crime scene detective building profiles for each murder suspect.    Or so I’ve felt these past few weeks processing my first collection. In the midst of the chaos, though, I stumble across little gems that make me forget about the filing conventions my donor seemed to create and then drop on a whim or the fact that desperately-relevant online records for certain local government officials don’t exist. An inspirational quote…


Interning in the Outer Banks

Billowing white sand dunes, salty sea breezes, and Elizabethan history lurking at every corner – welcome to Manteo, NC in the Outer Banks! Today marks my second full week interning at the Outer Banks History Center (OBHC) on Roanoke Island after I spent my first week virtually due to an outbreak of COVID in the guesthouse I am staying in. A satellite archive in the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the OBHC collects materials about the history of the region – often maritime in nature – ranging from oral histories about life on isolated Ocracoke to extensive photo archives of the generations of beach goers in this late-blooming tourist destination. While Manteo, the town I’m working in, touts itself as the “birthplace of English-speaking America” and as the birthplace of the first English baby born on American soil – Virginia Dare – the collection I’m processing is decidedly more modern. It was donated by a prominent local who served two tenures as mayor, led on a variety of boards and commissions, spearheaded…


Simmons Students Present at Boston College Conference

Over the weekend, the Boston College History Department hosted their first annual graduate student conference entitled “Grad Student Voices.” The student leadership team possessed a simple yet bold vision – a conference for graduate students by graduate students. Especially as a student just finishing her first year of her M.A. in History, I found it refreshing to attend an history conference that uplifted graduate voices rather than relegating their voices – and the students themselves – to the corner.  Since the dual degree Archives and History program here at Simmons pairs the M.A. in History as a complement to the M.S. in Archives Management, at times I have struggled to engage with my peers as fellow historians. The dominant attitude is that we are archivists first. And while I take my role as an archivist seriously because of the authority it invests in me in determining what records make it into the archives that future historians will rely on, sometimes I just want to dive deep into the theoretical frameworks and dizzying array of possible…


MBTA Pro Tip

When I think about it now, in front of this blank word document I am typing out to any prospective SLIS students reading this blog, it had to have been around this time last year that I received my admittance letter. I can’t remember the exact date. But I can tell you I was in the network room of what at the time was my new job here in Boston. I was a part time and temporary employee; with no idea this would stretch into at least a year of work in that brown stone near the Commons. There are probably countless things that I could go back and tell myself; things that would have prepared me for the next steps and next few months after I opened my decision email from Simmons that afternoon. I think I’ve done okay without any of that hindsight advice. Maybe my future graduated self will wish to go back and inform this second semester History & Archives student of something. Right now though, the only concrete advice I…


Future Plans

I feel like I blinked, and all of a sudden I’m registering for classes for my third and final year at Simmons! My graduate History thesis is right around the corner, and I can hardly believe it. I’m still deciding on my topic, but I think I’m starting to build a pretty good idea. It feels like the true adult world is coming quicker than ever. Speaking of, this past week I attended the annual Spring SLIS virtual career fair and got to meet with several awesome employers and get some ideas for my job prospects next spring. It’s exciting to hear about all the opportunities that are available for me when I graduate and all the places I can potentially work at.  Until then though, I’m happy to announce I got into all the classes that I wanted for next semester. I will be taking History 562 taught by the new faculty they hired, and LIS 442, one of the required archives courses. I did experience true senioritis though: I kept forgetting that my…


Spring Sprint

From the basket of laundry next to my bed, to the hundreds of unread and unorganized emails in my inbox, the evidence of this semester’s time crunch is everywhere I look.          The workload from my first semester at SLIS didn’t feel like a particularly far jump from the end of my undergraduate career. The reading was heavy, and the papers forced me to slow down and remember back to the kind of academic writing I hadn’t practiced in the year I took between my graduation from Syracuse and starting at Simmons. The three classes did keep me buzzing from one day to the next. But, in a mid-March reflection, I’m realizing now that this semester has been a whole other beast.             I run, often literally, from work, to class, to my LIS 438 field placement. Each of these pieces to my schedule is vital. I can’t miss class, or else then I’ll be behind in content and deadlines. Can’t afford to miss work and still be able to order the delicious food found…


New Semester Nerves

As a first Student Snippets’ blog post of the new semester, this is an admission of nerves. The first week of classes is never my favorite time of the academic year. I always feel a little lost, whether in the carefully arranged but still difficult to navigate online syllabi or when trying to find my new classrooms. This inaugural week of spring semester was hosted online. A brief but harrowing few days where I got to go back to the virtual learning environment I had escaped at the very end of my undergraduate career in 2020. We all grinned and got through it, seeing the lower half of our professors’ faces for perhaps the only time before summer arrives. These first week jitters alone would not warrant a blog post about them. What makes me take to this word document with a lingering sense of unease is my technology class. I have always imagined my archival ambitions through a haze of crumbling old paper and the smell of used books. It was always the History…


Welcome New Blogger – Abbey

My name is Abbey and I am a first semester student in the Simmons History & Archives Management dual degree program. I grew up in a small town on the Mississippi river. From there, I went away to school at Syracuse University in upstate New York. At Syracuse I studied English Textual Studies and History, and learned to love a long, brutal winter. I got my introduction to archive work while studying abroad in Poland. When in Eastern Europe, I ate many pierogies and fell in love with working with book history materials. The Prohibited Library in Prague, and its collection of censored samizdat papers, inspired me to continue my education with a master’s in Library Science. I had realized that if we did not prioritize looking after the material evidence of history, then who would? I spend my time reading good books and watching bad television. I like stories about haunted houses, running during the fall when the wind is a little too cold, and Taylor Swift. Boston has been my dream city for…


End of the Semester and End of the Year

Hey everyone. It’s been a long time since I last posted a blog. My semester has been pretty crazy as I imagine everyone else’s has been. Trying to keep up with the election, the pandemic, and continuing classes fulltime has been pretty stressful so I began to limit the amount of time I am on social media each week to basically zero which has been pretty helpful I would say. In my Collective Memory course, our final project was a group presentation on a historical event, person, or group that our understanding of has been affected by the idea of collective memory. My group chose to do our project our Crispus Attucks, the first victim of the Boston Massacre, and how his identity as a runaway slave and martyr helped with the abolitionists and even in the Black Lives Matter protests. In Archival Access, our final project is to create a MARC record and Finding Aid for a collection. We’ve been learning about how to create Finding Aids with XML code and MARC records so…


First Weeks

Hey everyone. The current semester is rolling along just fine despite it being an unusual one compared to a typical SLIS semester. As I’ve been taking more archives focused classes, I’m starting to gain a better grasp of the fundamentals of the profession. In my class LIS440 or Archival Access, I’ve learned about many of the key principles of being an archivist. Some of them are ones that are building off of concepts I learned in previous classes about describing metadata and how you describe items within your archives. In addition, I’ve been learning about how to categorize items within an archive by series or collection level which builds off of previous librarian concepts like Work, Expression, Manifestation, or Item levels. It’s going to be a pretty important class for understanding how to use an archive as both an archivist and a user.  In another class, LIS 441, Archival Appraisal, I’ve been learning about how to best conduct appraisal within an archive. Appraisal is such an important part of the profession because it has to…