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

Learning

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…


Papers, Projects, and Finals – Oh My!

I hope everyone is taking care of themselves this finals season! Part of that for me is turning my heat back on since Boston has been incredibly chilly the past few weeks. I know some people call it the windy city and that is certainly correct on some days. But all the flowers have started to bloom and on my study breaks I’ve been taking walks to look at all of the new shoots starting to come up.  Speaking of study breaks, I feel like every semester I’m continuously updating my study habits. I start out thinking that I have a strong understanding of what helps me stay on top of my tasks…. And then finals roll around and I find myself mistaken. Which isn’t to say it’s been bad, I just now have a better understanding of what DOESN’T work for me and I can adjust accordingly.  Which brings me to the question, what’s everyone’s favorite study hack? As someone who has multiple 20 page papers to write, I found that if I write…


Finals Approaching

My last set of finals is approaching and I’m both nervous and excited.  But I’m not too worried about what lies ahead.  I have a few group projects and to be honest, I’m really excited to work alongside my peers for this last set of projects.  I am not the kind of person to like group projects.  But I have built good friendships and working relationships with my classmates over the past 2 years, so working together with on these last things just feels right in a way.  It’s a nice way to wrap things up. However, it has been a tough past few weeks for everyone in my classes.  There has been some illness, stress, and just general life things that get in the way.  Having people to work alongside, even though we are all dealing with these issues, helping each other cross the line, just feels right. So as things wrap up, I am excited to work together this last time with everyone and hopefully everything will finish up really nicely. Here’s to…


Overcoming Growing Pains

I am very surprised to say I am nearing the end of my first semester here at Simmons! It feels like a whirlwind, to be honest – I applied and got accepted in October, moved to Boston in December, and started school in January. I am very grateful for the people who have supported me in this big life transition from my parents to my boyfriend to the friends that I’ve made so far in my classes. I definitely believe I made a smart choice moving to the city a full month before the semester started, but nothing could have prepared me for the transition into grad school life. It might have been because I accidentally signed up for 4 courses instead of the recommended 3 or fewer, so I quickly started to drown in responsibility. About a month into the semester I had one of those existential crises where nothing I was doing made sense — why was I going to grad school anyway? Why don’t I just escape civilization? What am I doing…


Spring and the Midway Point

The past few weeks have been your standard Boston spring weather.  Beautiful days sometimes going up to even fifty degrees followed by frigid windy days that sting at your face and snow that covers the ground, only to melt in the next few warm days.  Meteorologically speaking, it is a strange time, but so is coming back to classes after a weeklong spring break. For all my classes, we have officially passed the midway point.  It’s a great feeling and my classes have all been going really well.  But it’s also strange to be nearing the end of the semester and, in the grand scheme of things, my time at Simmons.  I’m starting to realize how much I will miss my classes.  I know that may be strange to say, but I did miss the lectures and discussions last week, and it made me start thinking about the future.  But let’s not dwell on melancholy topics. I am truly excited to really start getting into my assignments for the end of the semester.  I have…


Garden Archives

Sometimes, the semester is busy and the world is loud. The long and short of this week’s blog post is that I need a distraction…             Today’s particular break comes in the form of the Smithsonian Archive of American Gardens. According to their website, the Archive “Collects, preserves, and provides access to visual resources that document the history of gardens in America” and “Inspires new ways of interpreting garden history and design so that America’s rich garden heritage can be better understood, appreciated, and enjoyed today and in the future”. All of these are very noble and worthwhile causes. But really, I turn to this Archive to see some lush, green vignetted photography when Boston is feeling slushy and the rest of the world particularly smokey.            The collection seems to be entirely digitized, and can be browsed by state, garden structure/furniture/feature, or by type. Looking for the familiar flora of your home state? How about indulging your pastoral interests with some topiary or trellises? If you’re like me and dream about that herb garden you…


There You Are

            Lately when I am not in class at Simmons, it feels like I’m only ever at my job. It isn’t technically a bad feeling in itself. I work, essentially, as records management at a financial firm right off the Boston Commons. When you squint, my job responsibilities look like archival work. I am tasked with taking the old files from my office basement, some older than myself and all slightly funky with various degrees of water damage, and digitizing, organizing, then shredding them. My closest colleague is our network room printer. He is large and one of the more temperamental machines that I have had the pleasure of toiling beside. I don’t do much appraising, just checking that the tax returns are over seven years old before I send them to the document organizer where all files go to die.             The problem is that this feeling of constant work is paired with the second semester of graduate school conviction that I am terribly behind everyone else. My work does not have a museum…


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…