Meet Mudd’s Elena Colon-Marrero

Elena meeting Martha

Elena nervously meeting Martha Washington for the first time.

Name: Elena Colon-Marrero, John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Archival Fellow

Title/Duties: As the Dulles Fellow I work with the Digital Archivist and the Public Policy Papers Archivist to process collections with a focus on born-digital collections. I’m also gaining reference experience and will be conducting research for an upcoming exhibition on the Princeton Triangle Club.

Recent projects: Currently, I am working on a survey of the types of digital media (floppy disks, CDs, DVDs, USBs, etc.) found within the Public Policy Papers and the University Archives. It has been interesting to see the extent of digital media in the various collections. I also get a little giddy when I find a new type. I’ve been learning how to use and write scripts for a Linux operating system.

Worked at Mudd since: I began at Mudd in May of 2015 and will continue through August. I am working on my master’s at the University of Michigan’s School of Information specializing in Archives and Records Management and Preservation of Information. At Michigan I work at the Bentley Historical Library and the William L. Clements Library. I am a current officer of the Society of American Archivists Student Chapter.

Why I like my job/archives: The fact that I learn someone new almost every day is why I love working in archives. I love learning new facts. As a former academic bowl member, I can’t get enough of new information.

Favorite item/collection: While conducting my digital media survey I was directed to the John Van Antwerp MacMurray Papers. I was confused as to why 1920s films of China and the Philippines would show up on my survey. I quickly discovered that the films MacMurray took while Minister to China have been digitized. Though I have yet to watch them, the films piqued my interests.

Mudd Manuscript Library Summer Fellowship Available

The Mudd Manuscript Library, a unit of Princeton University Library’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, offers the John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Archival Fellowship for one graduate student each year. This fellowship provides a summer of work experience for a graduate student interested in pursuing an archival career.

The 2015 Fellow will focus primarily on technical services but will also gain experience in public services. Under the guidance of the Digital Archivist and Public Policy Papers Archivist, the Fellow will conduct a survey of digital media held within the University Archives and Public Policy Papers. The Fellow will then process select born-digital collections in accordance with the Library’s priorities and the Fellow’s interests. Additionally, the Fellow will participate in the reference rotation and conduct research for an upcoming exhibition on the Princeton Triangle Club. As time allows, the Fellow will assist with projects to enhance existing description in finding aids and curate a small exhibition on the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Japan. Previous Fellows and their work are listed here.

The Mudd Library is a state-of-the-art repository housing the Princeton University Archives and a highly regarded collection of 20th-century public policy papers. The more than 35,000 linear feet of archival and manuscript material are widely used by local, national, and international researchers. More than 2,000 visitors use Mudd Library’s reading room each year, and its staff field some 2,000 electronic, mail, and telephone inquiries annually. A progressive processing program, the use of new technologies, and an emphasis on access and public service have ensured that Mudd Library’s collections are ever more accessible.

The ten- to twelve-week fellowship program, which may be started as early as May, provides a stipend of $775 per week. In addition, travel, registration, and hotel costs to the Society of American Archivists’ annual meeting in August will be reimbursed.

Requirements: Successful completion of at least twelve graduate semester hours (or the equivalent) applied toward an advanced degree in archives, library or information management, American history, American studies, or museum studies; demonstrated interest in the archival profession; and good organizational and communication skills. At least twelve undergraduate semester hours (or the equivalent) in American history is preferred. The Library highly encourages applicants from under-represented communities to apply.

To apply: Applicants should submit a cover letter and resume to: Additionally, applicants should have two letters of recommendation sent to directly from the persons making the recommendation. Applications must be received by Monday, March 9, 2015. Skype interviews will be conducted with the top candidates, and the successful candidate will be notified in late March.

Please note: University housing will not be available to the successful candidate. Interested applicants should consider their housing options carefully and may wish to consult the online campus bulletin board for more information on this topic.

Meet Mudd’s Jarrett M. Drake


Name/Title: Jarrett M. Drake, Digital Archivist

Responsibilities: As the digital archivist at Mudd, I’m responsible for the development, implementation, and execution of processes that facilitate the effective acquisition, description, preservation, and access of born-digital archival collections acquired by the University Archives. The emphasis on ‘born-digital’ is to distinguish my work from that of digitization, which is a process that converts analog material into digital formats. Born-digital records are those that originated as microscopic inscriptions of 0’s and 1’s on a piece of magnetic media.


“Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM) of a Magnetic Hard Disk,” taken from MIT

Preserving and providing access to those 0’s and 1’s, or bits, is too challenging a problem for any single person to solve, so many of my duties require me to collaborate with others in the University Archives and across campus. This often involves me meeting with our University Archivist, the Assistant University Archivist for Technical Services (to whom I report), and the University Records Manager. As exciting as it is to dive into the past by hacking away at old and new media—and trust me, doing this is really exciting—the most important element of my success is laying the infrastructure for our Digital Curation Program, which we initiated two months ago. Infrastructure is invisible to most of us but critical for all of us. More on that in future posts.

Lest I lead you to believe that I work exclusively in the digital realm, I also do things that archivists have always done: processing paper records and performing reference services in person, on the phone, and over email.

Ongoing projects: Because our Digital Curation Program is rather nascent, I spend a majority of my time drafting policy documents for the program as well as revising workflows for how we process born-digital records. Outside of that, I contribute to several Library-wide working groups and task forces. When I’m not doing one of those two things, you can probably find me working with a new digital preservation tool or strengthening my command of various operating systems.

Worked at Mudd since: I began at Mudd in November of 2013. Prior to Princeton, I served as University Library Associate at the Special Collections Library of the University of Michigan, a post I maintained for nearly two years while I completed my master’s degree in information science at the School of Information. Before Michigan, I had brief stints at the Maryland State Archives and Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Why I like my job/archives: Contrary to general perception, archivists are concerned equally with the future as they are with the past. Yes, we manage records that document past activities, but we do so only for future use by researchers. In this way, I see my job as a digital archivist as one that preserves the past in order to promise the future. That promise is harder to ensure when it comes to digital records, but it’s a challenge that I find to be terrifyingly exciting and incredibly meaningful. Also, I learn something new each and every day, which is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my work.

And though I put a lot of time and energy into curating bits, I joined the profession because I like people. I enjoy assisting them with their research questions and it gratifies me that I can contribute to the creation of new knowledge about the past. The roughest days I encounter are immediately turned around when a researchers says “I can’t thank you enough for your assistance” or “without you, I’m not sure I could have answered this question.” Those are my reminders that I chose the right profession.

Favorite item/collection: Recently I responded to a researcher who sought information about the first Japanese student to graduate from Princeton. I spent some time digging around our Historical Subject Files and our Alumni Undergraduate Records collection to learn that in 1876, Hikoichi Orita was the University’s first Japanese student to graduate.


Authored by Walter Mead Rankin, 1884. Found in “Orita, Hikoichi,” Box 148, Undergraduate Alumni Records, Princeton University Archives, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

In addition to his alumni files, we have a copy of his student diary, which I told myself I would read slowly over my career. It’s in English, in case you’re interested in viewing it, too. This is a classic example where a researcher informs the interests of the archivist, instead of vice versa.

Archival Description Group Wins National Award

The University Library’s Archival Description Working Group has won another award for its efforts in finding new ways to deliver information about our collections to our users. The Society of American Archivists will present the C.F.W Coker Award to the group in August for, the University Library’s interface for descriptions of Princeton archives and manuscript collections. Society of American Archivists Logo The Coker Award “recognizes finding aids, finding aid systems, innovative development in archival description, or descriptive tools that enable archivists to produce more effective finding aids. To merit consideration for the award, nominees must set national standards, represent a model for archives description, or otherwise have a substantial impact on national descriptive practice.” It is awarded to archives throughout North America; previous winners include the Archivists’ Toolkit project, the Online Archives of California, and the working group that developed Encoded Archival Description.

The Award Committee noted that the team at Princeton “created a complete user experience of the Princeton University collections that is elegant in its outward simplicity and robust in its search capabilities. . . . The site is, in short, a triumph of innovative descriptive practice.” Maureen Callahan, John Delaney, Shaun Ellis, Regine Heberlein, Dan Santamaria, Jon Stroop, and Don Thornbury serve on the Working Group. The site also builds on descriptive data created by many staff involved with aggressive processing and data conversion projects over the last seven years.

The site was publicly released last September. The group was also awarded the Mid Atlantic Regional Archives Conference’s Finding Aid Award in April. As always, our biggest reward is the use of the finding aids, and the material they describe, by our patrons, but it’s great to receive recognition for all the effort that went into developing the site.

Princeton wins MARAC Finding Aid Award

We are very pleased to announce that the Princeton University Library’s Archival Description working group has been awarded the 2012 Frederic M. Miller Finding Aid Award by the Mid Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC). The award recognizes outstanding finding aids and finding aid systems in the Mid Atlantic region. Submissions are evaluated in the areas of content, design, innovation, and adherence to descriptive standards.

Main Page for the new finding aids site

Main Page for the new finding aids site

Princeton’s archival description working group includes two Mudd staff members: Maureen Callahan and Dan Santamaria, who serves as chair of the group. Former Mudd staff member Regine Heberlein is also a key member of the group, as are Don Thornbury and John Delaney from Firestone Library’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections and Jon Stroop and Shaun Ellis of the library’s digital initiatives group.

The group was awarded first prize in the 2012 competition for, the redesigned finding aids interface for descriptions of Princeton’s archives and manuscripts collections. The new interface was the result of more than a year of close collaboration between Department of Rare Books and Special Collections and Digital Initiatives staff. The site contains descriptions of all of the archival and manuscript collections held at Princeton and includes a number of innovations including:

Images of the collection in the context of the finding aid

Images of the collection in the context of the finding aid

• Delivery of images of actual collections material directly from the finding aid interface

Contents lists that are sortable by title, date, or physical location in the collection

Enhanced topic features, listing collections related to our collecting strengths

• Better options for users to contact the library and connect with each other, including “Ask a Question” buttons for reference requests and commenting features for users wishing to request a description enhancement or share information within their own social networks

• Automated requesting of collections material from all contents lists

• Direct access to components of collections (often boxes and folders) from search results and Faceting and browsing options from search results.

In addition to the work of the team that developed the finding aids site, it should be noted the site is built on data created by dozens of library staff over the last several years. The innovations described above would not be possible without the work of these staff members in processing and describing our collections.

The award comes with a small monetary prize, which will be donated to a small historical society in New Jersey. While use of the finding aids by our patrons is our biggest reward, it’s great to receive recognition for the hard work that went into developing the site. Congratulations to everyone involved!

Mudd Manuscript Library Annual Report: Fiscal Year 2012

Mudd Manuscript Library Annual Report, FY2012



The staff at Mudd Library had a very successful year in 2012 with notable highlights that include:

  • Prepared for the launch of Aeon on July 1, 2012.  This required significant work from both public and technical services staff.
  • Significant work done to upgrade access tools, in particular a new finding aids site launched in beta, and other work done to prepare for integration of EAD data into Primo.
  • ACLU project completed, with almost 2,500 linear feet of records described as part of NHPRC-funded processing project.
  • In addition to ACLU, 1,800 linear feet of other policy and archives materials described, including the Harold Medina Papers.
  • The Daily Princetonian digitization completed, with the years 1876-2002 now online.
  • Dissertation submission procedure altered to provide full-text, online access via OIT’s DataSpace.
  • Hosted IMLS intern Brenda Tindal
  • Continued high level of use of collections, both in-house and remote, with great degree of patron satisfaction, with PDF requests surpassing paper copies.

Major Activities

Public Services

In the past year, the staff of the Mudd Manuscript Library served 1,686 patrons, 211 of whom had visited Mudd prior to FY12 and 678 who were new researchers. We circulated 8,531 items (2,761 University Archives boxes/items, 5,812 Public Policy Papers boxes/items, 34 Gest rare books and 14 other items). For more on particular collections used, see Appendix A: Most used Archives and Policy collections in FY2012.

Staff also filled 354 photocopy orders totaling 39,431 pages, of which 265 orders were delivered as PDF files totaling 27,338 pages and 89 orders were fulfilled on paper, totaling 12,093 pages, so a PDF continues to be the preferred method for the majority of our users.  Scanning continues to be the default method by which we provide images for patrons and last year we filled 90 orders for 266 scans.

We responded to over 1,900 pieces of correspondence (including 882 pertaining to the University Archives and 403 to the Public Policy Papers; 16 requests for permission to quote) which arrived as follows: 1,317 e-mail; 111 telephone; 23 surface mail and 1 via fax.  Individual correspondence totals:  Maureen Callahan, 64; Christa Cleeton, 7; John DeLooper, 15; Kate Dundon, 20; Lynn Durgin, 108; Dave Gillespie, 9; Adriane Hanson, 81; Dan Linke, 207; Christie Lutz, 184; Christie  Peterson, 88; Amanda Pike, 340; Dan Santamaria, 27; Brenda Tindal, 18; Kristen Turner, 35; Helene van Rossum, 5; Rosalba Recchia, 82.   The staff also responded to more than 500 brief telephone calls.

Collectively, the staff worked with 9 different classes relating to junior papers and other research/writing projects with a total of approximately 115 attendees.

In addition, a large number of visitors took advantage of Mudd’s digital camera program as 279 patrons photographed 6,419 items from our collections, totaling 73,338 images.

John DeLooper left Mudd in September to accept a reference librarian position, and in early December, Christa Cleeton joined the Mudd staff as the new SCAIV for public services (front desk position). Christa, who had previously worked at Firestone, quickly and efficiently assumed the duties of the position, from greeting and registering patrons to overseeing student workers to carrying out special projects for Dan Linke. Significantly, Christa became the coordinator for Mudd’s social media efforts, responsible for our blogs, Facebook page and Twitter feed, all of which she has energetically attended to. She has been attending the University’s Social Media SPIN meetings, and working directly with the University’s director of social media to implement best practices and draw more attention to our social media output. Christa also assisted Lisbeth Dennis in creating a Facebook page for RBSC.

The biggest change in Mudd’s public services operations this year was the implementation of the Aeon circulation management system, done in conjunction with the rest of RBSC. All Mudd staff attended training sessions in January, with Lutz, Pike and Cleeton participating in extra training and numerous meetings regarding implementation, use, and workflow issues. Full implementation took several months, but in June we conducted preliminary tests of the system, and starting in July, began using the system.  Lutz, Pike and Cleeton worked to alert current and future Mudd researchers to the changes through our website, social media outlets, and in exchanges with patrons. Both experienced and new Mudd users have been quite receptive to the new system and particularly appreciate that they can submit requests for materials prior to their arrival at Mudd. While there was some concern among staff that we must first send researchers to the Access Office in Firestone to obtain Special Collections identification cards, we have not heard many patron complaints over the need to make this extra stop. However, this stop is a temporary measure until Mudd obtains the hardware and software necessary to create the ID cards here at Mudd.

Throughout the year, we received accolades from patrons for the quality and efficiency of the reference services we provided.

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Meet Mudd’s Maureen Callahan

Thumbnail image for CallahanImageWarthog
Maureen made fast friends with this warthog who was a part of the hotel where she was staying while working on an archives project at the University of Fort Hare in Alice, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Name/Title: Maureen Callahan – Public Policy Papers Project Archivist

Title/Duties: My official job title is Public Policy Papers Project Archivist. Like everyone at Mudd, I do a lot of different things, but my main focus is being a good intermediary between the feet, yards, even miles of archival records that we have and researchers who want to come to use them. I spend time figuring out how to describe materials in aggregate and make sense of their context and content. Or, to put it another way, I dig through a lot of dusty stuff so you don’t have to.

I also work with other archivists and librarians here to leverage the tools of a networked world to make our resources available to people who might never be able to come to Princeton to do research. We’re looking at possibilities for mass digitization so that we can put our actual stuff – and not just descriptions of it – on the internet.

Recent projects: Part of the reason why I enjoy my job so much is because I get to do a lot of different things. Dan Linke and I are currently working on an exhibit about the 1912 election – reading about characters like Eugene Debs, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson (and let’s face it, to a lesser extent) William Howard Taft is extremely engaging, and we’re having fun thinking about ways to explain the contexts and parallels of 1912 and today.

Over the summer I processed the papers of Judge Harold R. Medina, a figure so well-known during the 1940s and ’50s that he made the cover of Time magazine, but who is rarely referenced today. Medina presided over the trial of the leaders of the Communist Party, USA, and over a huge anti-trust case against investment banking firms in the early 1950s. After spending quality time with Judge Medina, I would say that there are possibly dozens of articles and dissertations to be written from the content of his records. I hope that we see an uptick in researchers now that his papers are more fully processed!

Worked at Mudd since: I’ve worked at Mudd since February of 2011. Before that, I led a project to digitize rare materials from the Middle East and North Africa at George Washington University, and previous to that I was an archivist at the Penn Museum.

Why I like my job/archives: Well, at an esoteric level, I believe that an honest look at the historical record tends to destroy previous conceptions of what is normal, and I think that there’s something extremely liberating about this. Even Mudd’s records of fairly mainstream characters have the power to challenge my previous conceptions of how power presents itself, how people behave, and how the nation operates.

Much more concretely, I like working with people and I like working with technology. We get a lot of questions that start with "my ancestor went to Princeton. Can you tell me about him?" I appreciate the chance to connect people with the people who came before them, and sometimes surprise them with the richness of our records. This process is rewarding, and I’m optimistic about the capabilities of the web to bring our resources to more people.

Favorite item/collection: I’m not sure if it’s my favorite, but last year we accessioned the records of Elmer C. Werner, an IRS agent who had the goods on Halliburton’s (well, the group that existed that eventually became Halliburton) illegal contributions to Lyndon Baines Johnson’s senate campaign. I wrote a blog post about it, which tells the whole sordid story:

IMLS Archival Fellow: Brenda Tindal

Brenda Tindal for HM

Brenda Tindal is one of nine archival fellows chosen from a very competitive applicant pool to participate in Increasing African American Diversity in Archives: The HistoryMakers’ Fellowship, Mentoring, Training and Placement Institute, described by Harvard University Professor and pre-eminent African American scholar Henry Louis Gates as“a wonderfully innovative program.” The program addresses the “appalling low proportion” of African American archivists, which despite decades of effort has increased by only 1% in 22 years–from 1.8% as recorded in the Society of American Archivists (SAA)’s 1982 survey of its professionals, to 2.8% in 2004 as recorded by the A* Census.

As an archival fellow in residence at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library at Princeton University, Tindal is actively engaged in processing archival material, research, reference services, appraisal and collection development, pedagogy, and outreach initiatives. Her work “advances Mudd’s commitment to making the University Archives and the Public Policy Papers accessible to patrons who include faculty, students, visiting scholars and researchers, and genealogist, among others,” says Tindal. It also allows her to “hone invaluable skills and continue to develop a greater literacy of the many facets of archival work within an academic library.” Additionally, Tindal adds, the Increasing African American Diversity in Archives fellowship program has also given her the opportunity to “build upon her expertise in African American history and culture, while cultivating relationships with like-minded archival practitioners, who have a vested interest in diversifying the profession and the nations archival holdings.”
The goal of Increasing African American Diversity in Archives is to provide African American archival collections with African American archivists and other archivists qualified and interested in working with African American collections. Ultimately, the program seeks to "increase the visibility of the archival profession and African American collections through public programs/outreach efforts," says Executive Director and Founder of The HistoryMakers, Julieanna L. Richardson.
“I am delighted Brenda is part of the Mudd staff,” said University Archivist Daniel J. Linke. “She brings a passion for documents grounded in a deep understanding of their historical context. In just the first few weeks she has been here, she has been fantastic in the classroom working with students, and I expect her time here will benefit us as well as her.”
Speaking on the importance of the program, Tindal says, “an initiative of this magnitude is ingenious and has the potential to redefine the industry by addressing the paucity of African Americans in the archival profession, and in turn, elevate the unique perspectives that we bring to the domain of library and information science.”
Brenda Tindal is a Ph.D. candidate in the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts (American Studies) at Emory University, where she is completing a dissertation entitled “’What Our Common Past Had Done to Us’: Landscapes of Memory, Representation, and Enactments of Movement Widowhood, 1963-2006.” Tindal has worked on numerous archival projects, including the Alice Walker Papers and the organizational records of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory University and the Andrew J. Young Papers at the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History.

Meet Mudd’s Jimmy Lu

Jimmy 003

Name: Jimmy Lu ’13

Major: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Title/Duties: Special Collections Student Assistant. I copy and scan documents to fulfill patron orders. I deliver files to offices that are too valuable to be sent via campus mail. On occasion, I also watch over the library’s reading room, lest patrons misbehave.
Recent projects: Digitization of Trustees Minutes. From the old volumes of early 1900s to the confidential records of the recent years, I contribute to humanity’s transition from our reliance on paper to a bondage to electronics.
Worked at Mudd since: Summer 2010
Why I like my job/archives: It’s a nice change of pace from my coursework. I can perform my duties while letting my mind drift and wander. The immersion in the history of Princeton is also very enjoyable. Seeing the old documents that have survived from Princeton’s baby years strengthens my connection to the prestigious institution. Additionally, the short distance between the archives and most of my classes suits my lazy self very well.
Favorite item/collection: The Daily Princetonian Records. Nothing covers the many aspects of Princeton and the happenings inside the Orange Bubble as completely as the student newspaper. It’s interesting to see the changes in the writing quality, the focus of the articles, and the temperaments of the student body through the many decades.

American Civil Liberties Union Records Processing Project Update

The Mudd Library has reached an important mile stone in the ACLU Records Processing Project: completing the collection inventories. We now have a list of what is in each of the 2,500 boxes in the collection. These boxes remain closed to research until July 1, 2012 pending a review for restricted materials. However, researchers wishing to access the collection before that date may request up to ten boxes be reviewed for immediate release. For further information, please contact the Mudd Library at For more information on the project, you can read our previous blog entries
We also welcomed a new staff member to the project this summer, David Gillespie. Dave has a background in American and military history, with varied archival experience including research assistant at the Strategic Studies Institute, intern at the Gettysburg National Military Park Archives, and intern on the House Divided project creating a digital collection on Dickinson College during the Civil War Era. On the ACLU project, he is responsible for reviewing the legal case files within the collection for any restricted materials, which account for about 65% of the records. Through this review, we expect to be able to open the majority of these materials on July 1.