Sunday, 13 May 2012

And so summer begins

I have been banging on about how weird summer will be for oh, about 4 months, and now it is well and truly upon us (school-wise, not necessarily weather-wise).  What will I be up to over the next 3 months?


On Monday, I started my internship in the Syracuse University Archives and have spent the week getting my grounding in the history of the collections, which I will be processing.  The Genesee Wesleyan Seminary and Genesee College were two predecessor institutions to Syracuse University but SU was not founded from them, as many believe.  These collections are mixed together and need to be separated, processed fully, conserved in the appropriate manner and an EAD finding aid created and posted online.  I will also be identifying suitbale items for digitisation, which will be linked to the finding aid so that researchers can get isntant results on the Archives website.

Some of my boxes

These collections hold records of students, faculty and staff of the two institutions as well as a small number of daguerrotypes and photographs and will be a valuable source to researchers and genaologists when processed fully.  This week I have got my head round most of the correspondence and figured out what there is in prepraration for starting to plan how I will organise the collection in the most accessible and logical manner.

I have also been buying supplies...the Gaylord catalogue is a wonder to behold.  My only qualm is with a map they have for a children's library, which has labels to be stuck on such as the Eiffel Tower, Pyramids and regional animals etc.  There are country labels for the USA, Saudi Arabia, China, Argentina, England...England?  Not the UK?  Maybe I shouldn't be so surprised that I have met many individuals here who think that Scotland is in England or indeed have never heard of it at all (yes, I have met someone who didn't know what it was).  A sad state of affairs.

Shakespeare plays

Anyway, back on topic.

Independent Study

I decided to undertake an independent study in order that I could achieve the correct number of credits and because the manner in which it is taught more closely resembles what I was used to in Oxford.  Prof. Lavender is my faculty supervisor and I have been lucky enough to wangle my way into a very exciting and important project for the Karen Community in the North of Syracuse.  Over the past 8 years, around 3,000 members of this community, having fled Burma, have arrived in the city and there is now a concerted effort to document their culture before the younger generations become 'Americanised.'  I will be writing a documentation strategy for collecting oral histories of members of this community concerning their journey from Burma to Syracuse and what they think in their culture has helped them to survive their ordeals.

This documentation strategy will form a large part of a grant application being made on the behalf of the Karen Community from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  As you can tell, this is a very important project and I am excited to be part of something that will hopefully create a lasting legacy for this community.

Firstly though, I need to find out about documentation strategies and grant writing!


I am also taking my last class online, Policy.  So, it looks to be a busy summer but hopefully I will find time to fit in plenty of fun.  I intend to post frequently about my internship and interesting things I discover.  To give you a snippet, here is a quote from a reference letter from 1917 for a young man applying to the Seminary to be a teacher:

"There is only one serious fault with [him] and that is that he is inclined to be what the boys would call a "sissy."  This fault, I feel, could be corrected with careful treatment."

Poor chap.

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