Meet the 2022 Special Collections Summer Fellow for Firestone Library

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Name: Kate Mitchell

Education Background: I recently graduated from Rutgers University with my Master’s in Information Science with a concentration in archives and preservation. I also did my undergraduate degree at Rutgers, where I studied history and American studies. 

Previous Experience: After graduating college, I interned at the Zimmerli Art Museum, where I cataloged and processed the newly acquisitioned Jersey City Museum collection. This experience is what ultimately inspired me to go to library school and enter this field. Then, while in graduate school, I was a Library of Congress Junior Fellow, where I had the chance to create two online exhibitions for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB). In addition to learning a lot about public broadcasting and about the PBS NewsHour, working on these projects reified my interest in curation and public services. 

Most recently, during my last two semesters as a graduate student, I worked at the Institute of Jazz Studies at the Rutgers-Newark Library, where I created descriptive metadata and authority records for audio files, completed online reference requests, digitized materials for research access and for long-term preservation, and performed a number of other tasks necessary to the day-to-day functioning of an archive.

Why I like Archives/Professional Interests: While I was initially drawn to the field because of my love of history and of the bizarre objects that inevitably end up in special collections, my continued interest in archives stems from its power as an institution to influence our understanding of the past, present, and future. I hope that by entering this field I can help effect positive social change by pushing for a more inclusive perspective of history. 

Other interests: I love knitting and experimenting with other fiber arts techniques. I learned how to knit when I was in elementary school and picked it up again in college, where I made a lot of lumpy hats. Then, because of COVID-19 and the 2020 lockdown, I had a lot more time to practice and finally graduated to knitting sweaters.

Looking forward to working on the following project(s) while at Princeton: I’m most excited to start working on the redescription projects with the Inclusive Description Working Group! I’m also looking forward to working with patrons and getting more experience providing in-person reference services.

Special Collections PACSCL DEI Internship

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This Spring, Special Collections participated as a host institution in a PACSCL (Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries)-sponsored semester-long, pilot DEI internship program to provide an undergraduate student from an underrepresented community/ies exposure to and experience working in a special collections library. The following was authored by Princeton student Aubrey Roberts ’25 about her experience.

Aubrey Roberts ’25

When I was interviewing for the PACSCL internship for the Princeton University Library, I was asked, “What part of special collections are you most interested in learning more about?” As I scoured my brain for an answer, I quickly realized that I knew very little about the specific work that goes into special collections. All I knew is that I had a passion for preserving knowledge in all its forms matched only by a passion for making that knowledge accessible to as many people as possible.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I have grown increasingly passionate about information accessibility and preservation. Queer stories have frequently been censored or destroyed, just have the stories of many other marginalized communities. While working with the various departments within Princeton’s Special Collections, I have had the opportunity to listen to oral histories in the Princeton LGBTQIA Oral History Project, work with texts important to queer history, and learn more about how cataloging can influence the ease at which LGBTQ people and people from other marginalized groups are able to access materials relating to their personal communities.

In addition to connecting with my identity-based community through this internship, I have also been able to directly connect with the community at Princeton. Before this internship, I knew very little about any of the libraries on campus. However, as I explored the different collections, I began to understand the depth of what I could access and study as a Princeton student. Additionally, I learned more about how archives and libraries function in general to assist researchers and the public, knowledge I will continually use throughout my academic career and afterwards.

I am very grateful for all of the wonderful people who I worked with over the course of this internship. Before I began, I was nervous that I didn’t know enough to do what might be expected of me. However, this feeling quickly subsided as I met more of the people who work in Princeton’s Special Collections. Each one patiently taught me about their specific field of work and discussed some of the complex issues surrounding Special Collections, introducing me to the importance of libraries and the challenges which the people working in them are tasked with unraveling. I look forward to continuing my exploration of special collections and libraries throughout my lifetime, both on campus and beyond!

John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Archival Fellowship

The Mudd Manuscript Library, a unit of Princeton University Library’s Department of Special Collections, offers the John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Archival Fellowship for one graduate student (or recent graduate) each year. This fellowship provides a summer of work experience for those interested in pursuing an archival career. For more information about the Mudd Manuscript Library visit: https://library.princeton.edu/special-collections/mudd.

The 2022 Fellow will gain experience in both technical and public services, working under the guidance of archivists from both teams. Projects for 2022 may include: a research project on implementing reparative description, processing/reprocessing work on both analog and digital collections, and participation in the reference rotation. Previous Fellows and their work can be found on our website.

The Mudd Library stewards the Princeton University Archives and a 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 3,000 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 10- to 12-week fellowship, which may be started as early as May, provides a stipend of $1000 per week. In addition, costs related to attending a professionally-related, national conference will be covered. Details on travel and in-person attendance will depend on University guidance regarding current Covid-19 protocols.

Requirements: Successful completion of at least 12 graduate semester hours (or the equivalent) applied toward an advanced degree in archives, library or information management, American history, American studies, or museum studies. Applicants within one year of obtaining their graduate degree are also eligible to apply. Demonstrated interest in the archival profession; good organizational and communication skills; and a willingness and commitment to learn new tools/applications. Experience with processing and reference, as well as familiarity with ArchivesSpace, preferred. The Library highly encourages applicants who identify as a member of a group (or groups) underrepresented in the library and archives field. These include—but are not limited to—people of Hispanic or Latinx, Black or African-American, Asian, Middle Eastern, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, First Nations, American Indian, or Alaskan Native descent as well as people with disabilities, first generation college graduates, and/or those who identify as LGBTQIA+.

To apply: Applicants should submit a cover letter, resume, and two letters of recommendation to: mfellow@princeton.edu . Any questions about the application process or position can be sent to the same email. Applications must be received by Monday, March 7, 2022 at 11pm. Interviews will be conducted (via phone and/or video) with selected candidates and the successful candidate will be notified by April 8, 2022.

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 Tiger ReTail, the online campus bulletin board or the Princeton University Off-campus Housing website for more information on this topic. 

Princeton University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer

Special Collections Summer Fellowship for Firestone Library

Princeton University Library’s Department of Special Collections is excited to offer the Special Collections Summer Fellowship hosted at Firestone Library (previously the Archival Residency for Manuscripts Division Collections) again for 2022.

Princeton University Library’s Department of Special Collections is excited to offer the Special Collections Summer Fellowship hosted at Firestone Library (previously the Archival Residency for Manuscripts Division Collections) again this year.

The fellowship provides a summer of paid work experience for a current or recent graduate student interested in pursuing a career in Special Collections libraries or archives. 

Fellowship Description: The 2022 Fellow will gain experience in the fields of technical services, public services, and curatorial. Projects for 2022 may include: learning and implementing reparative description; processing/reprocessing of manuscript collections (including hybrid collections with born-digital and audiovisual materials); participation in the reference rotation and answering reference questions in person and remotely; working alongside curatorial staff to learn and implement contemporary collecting and stewardship practices, and conducting research on areas of scholarly inquiry and supporting curatorial projects as an integral part of an acquisitions team.

More information about the library and its holdings is available on the library website. 

This ten- to twelve-week residency program, which can begin as early as May, provides a weekly stipend of $1000 (subject to state/local/federal taxes). In addition, expenses for attending one North American-based conference of the fellow’s choosing (travel, registration fees, and hotel) will be covered by Princeton University Library.

Requirements

  • Must be a current graduate student or recent graduate (within one year of graduation) of an advanced degree program in archive or library/information management, museum studies and public history, literature, American studies, history, and/or other humanistic discipline. 
  • Must have past experience working in the archival and/or special collections profession (including positions held as part of volunteer programs, internships, work-study programs, contract/adjunct work, other fellowships, etc.) 
  • Good organization and communication skills.
  • Time management and project management skills (ability to manage multiple projects).

Foreign language skills (particularly Spanish-language reading skills) are preferred, but not essential.

The Library highly encourages applicants from under-represented communities to apply.

To apply: Submit a cover letter, resume, and two letters of recommendation addressed to the search committee at esarconi@princeton.edu with the subject line “[Applicant Last Name] 2022 Archival Fellowship.” Applications must be received by Tuesday, March 1st, 2022. Zoom interviews will be conducted with the top candidates at the end of March, and the successful candidate will be notified by April 15th.

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.

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY/AFFIRMATIVE ACTION EMPLOYER.

Information about previous recipients can be found here.

Meet the 2020 Manuscripts Division Archival Resident

Name: Carolina Quezada Meneses

Educational background: I recently graduated from UCLA’s School of Information Studies with an MLIS, specializing in archival studies. As an undergraduate, I studied comparative literature and Spanish at Smith College.

Previous experience: I’ve been working in libraries and archives in different capacities for a number of years now. Most recently, I interned at the University of California, Irvine’s Special Collections & Archives (SCA). This was an enriching opportunity because I was able to build on previous experience processing born-digital materials — a skill set totally absent from my MLIS program’s curriculum. At SCA, I worked closely with the Assistant University Archivist to develop a new workflow for accessioning born-digital material. I also had the chance to help process a really interesting collection of interactive multimedia CD-ROMs by the feminist media artist, Christine Tamblyn. It was my first time thinking about how to best provide access to obsolete digital art.

Why I like archives/Professional interests: 

As the daughter of immigrants to this country, I’ve always felt a strong affinity to history and memory so it is no surprise that I was attracted to the profession from very early on. While studying comp lit as an undergrad, I focused on revivals of language and culture in post Franco Spain. Some of my classes ultimately led me to archival research, which inspired me to seek out internships in archives. At the Trisha Brown Dance Archive, I first encountered the challenges of preserving dance and embodied knowledge. 

This curiosity really informed my MLIS studies, which led me to think about how dance and performance is captured, usually video, which is itself ephemeral and unstable. I now see the problems facing digital preservation as an extension of the unique challenges with archiving a performance. I want to continue exploring this dilemma as an archivist and hopefully come up with new ideas to contribute to the profession.

Other interests: I love to cook and try new recipes. I’ve recently been cooking a lot from Falistin by the Palestinian chef, Sami Tamimi. I’m also really into running.

Looking forward to working on the following project(s) while at Princeton:

I’m really excited to do some reference work, which is not something I’ve had the chance to do in previous positions. I think it will especially be interesting to see how this is being done in these times. I’m also curious to learn how Special Collections has been approaching digital processing by helping with updating the digital processing guidelines. I’m also looking forward to working on a redescription project with the Inclusive Description Working Group.

Archival Summer Residency for Manuscripts Division Collections

Princeton University Library’s Department of Special Collections is excited to offer the Archival Residency for Manuscripts Division Collections again this year. The residency provides a summer of paid work experience for a current or recent graduate student interested in pursuing an archival career. 

Residency Description: The 2020 Resident will primarily gain experience in technical services, with a focus this year on arrangement and description of manuscript collections, including hybrid collections with born-digital and audiovisual materials. The Resident will also assist with in-person and/or remote reference and other public services related projects. The Fellow will work under the guidance of the team of processing staff responsible for collections within the Manuscripts Division, including the Lead Processing Archivist, Project Archivist for Americana Manuscripts Collections, Processing Archivist for General Collections, and the Latin American Processing Archivist, as well as the Reference Professional for Special Collections. 

The Manuscripts Division is located in Firestone Library, Princeton University’s main library, and holds over 14,000 linear feet of materials covering five thousand years of recorded history and all parts of the world, with collecting strengths in Western Europe, the Near East, the United States, and Latin America. The Resident will primarily work with the Division’s expansive literary collections, the papers of former Princeton faculty, and collections relating to the history of the United States during the 18th and 19th centuries. 

The ten- to twelve-week residency program, which can begin as early as May, provides a stipend of $950 per week. In addition, travel, registration, and hotel costs to the Society of American Archivists’ annual meeting in August will be covered by Princeton.

Requirements: This residency is open to current graduate students or recent graduates (within one year of graduation). Applicants must have successfully completed at least twelve graduate semester hours (or the equivalent) applied toward an advanced degree in archives, library or information management, literature, American history/studies, or other humanities discipline, public history, or museum studies; a demonstrated interest in the archival profession; good organizational and communication skills; and the ability to manage multiple projects. At least twelve undergraduate semester hours (or the equivalent) in a humanities discipline and/or foreign language skills (particularly Spanish-language reading skills) are preferred.

The Library highly encourages applicants from under-represented communities to apply.

To apply: Submit a cover letter, resume, and two letters of recommendation addressed to the search committee at mssdiv@princeton.edu with the subject line “Archival Residency.” Applications must be received by Monday, March 9th, 2020. Video interviews will be conducted with the top candidates, and the successful candidate will be notified by April 3rd.

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.

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY/AFFIRMATIVE ACTION EMPLOYER.

Information about previous recipients can be found here.

Description Dilemma: Processing Mathieu-Guillaume-Thérèse Villenave’s Collection on Alina d’Eldir

By Alice Griffin

Piece of paper with script: “La Sultane Ch. Mercier D’Eldir, femme auteur,” undated.

How does one describe a collection with multiple and unknown creators and a subject with an inconsistent biography?

As part of my summer Archival Fellowship for Manuscripts Division Collections, I processed a collection of papers and correspondence relating to Alina d’Eldir (?-1851), author of Méditations en prose, par une dame indienne (1828), which was described as “le premier ouvrage qui était composé en français, et publié à Paris, par une princesse de l’Hindoustan” (the first work to be written in French, and published in Paris, by an Indian princess). This collection documents  d’Eldir’s advocacy for magnetism as a cure for illness and her role as the founder of the Ordre Asiatique de Morale Universelle, a religious organization.  

When doing some research on this collection, I found that biographies of d’Eldir present conflicting information and are a bit fuzzy on the details. However, there is a general consensus that she was taken from India when she was young and converted to Christianity. Sources also say she was treated like an adopted daughter by Empress Josephine, Napoleon Bonaparte’s first wife. From the mid-1820s on, she provided magnetism treatments from her residence in Paris. While several sources do report these elements of her life, I don’t mean to provide this information as fact, but more as an illustration of what has been written about her. It seems like there are very few contemporary works on her; the most recent publication I have found about d’Eldir was an article in Chambers’s Journal of Popular Literature, Science and Arts, published in 1894.

Portrait of Alina d’Eldir with some of the unknown handwriting in the collection, undated.

This is a small collection (less than 0.2 linear feet), but do not be fooled! The size of a collection does not necessarily match the complexity of description and processing efforts. Part of the challenge here was sorting through who the creator(s) versus the subject of this collection was. Although the description that arrived with the collection highlighted d’Eldir as the focal point of the collection, it did indicate that Mathieu-Guillaume-Thérèse Villenave (1762-1846) was the main creator and collector of the group of documents. Villenave was involved in the Ordre Asiatique de Morale Universelle, and edited a book about magnetism and Alina d’Eldir (La vérité du magnétisme, prouvée par les faits, 1829). The collection includes documents related to Villenave’s work with d’Eldir: correspondence from Alina d’Eldir (written on her behalf by her husband, and secretary, Charles Mercier) to Villenave, certificates from the Ordre Asiatique de Morale Universelle, and Villenave’s handwritten copies of testimonials describing d’Eldir’s magnetism treatments. However, other documents in the collection (other copies of testimonials, a portrait of d’Eldir) feature different handwriting. In addition, a typewritten bibliography about d’Eldir and her contemporaries includes a book published in 1912, well after the deaths of Villenave and d’Eldir. Two indications of other previous owners include a scrap of paper with the name Léon Féer (possibly Léon Féer, 1830-1902, the French linguist) and a book plate with the name Hans Fellner (possibly Hans Fellner, 1925-1996, the bookseller).

The dealer’s description also created some confusion about the creator versus subject of the collection because of how it concentrates on d’Eldir’s biography. This makes sense, of course, d’Eldir is an influential figure and the focus of the collection, but her voice and work are presented secondhand through materials created by others.

With all of this in mind, my supervisors on the Manuscripts Processing Team and I had several discussions about whether we should include a creator at all. If we put Villenave as the creator, would that not take into account the other creators involved in the collection? And then would that overshadow d’Eldir as the center of the collection? In the end, we decided to include Alina d’Eldir’s name as a subject in the controlled access headings and put Villenave as a creator. This makes it clear that Villenave is the main creator, while also indicating how the materials are about Alina d’Eldir rather than created by her. We also decided that transparency was the best approach to describing how much (or how little) is known about the collection’s history. We provided this information, including more recent creators/collectors of the papers, via the Custodial History note. Although the information I was able to provide was somewhat limited, it should prove useful to researchers, public services, and future processing archivists. 

D’Eldir as a subject, as opposed to a creator, does not mean that the collection is less valuable, but I do think it means I should be mindful in my description. I didn’t want to contribute to under-describing d’Eldir, nor did I want to mischaracterize her; and further I didn’t want to perpetuate the descriptions of d’Eldir that exoticize her. When describing d’Eldir in the finding aid, I decided to stick with simple biographical statements, which were supported by materials in the collection (e.g. her position in the Ordre Asiatique de Morale Universelle and her connection to magnetism). In the interest of transparency, I used the Works Cited note to list the sources I consulted when writing Description notes. 

As an archivist, it is important to provide description that is useful and as accurate as possible. At the same time, however, exhaustive, infallible description isn’t how researchers generally navigate to a collection. I think this is where keywords, subject headings, and name authorities come in. With thoughtful, accurate subject headings, I feel confident that researchers will find this collection. And those researchers may be able to reveal further details about the collection that we will want to add to the finding aid in the future. 

Ultimately, the beauty of processing is that it is iterative; my description is not set in stone and nor should it be. Future archivists can edit and expand as researcher needs and best practices dictate.

Mathieu-Guillaume-Thérèse Villenave’s Collection on Alina d’Eldir, circa 1829-1950s, is currently discoverable via the Princeton University Library Finding Aids site, and open for research. For more information on how to visit and conduct research at  Princeton’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, please consult the Visit Us page on our website.

Letter to Villenave from Charles Mercier d’Eldir on behalf of Alina d’Eldir, 1839.

Meet the 2019 Manuscripts Division Archival Summer Fellow

Alice Griffin

Name: Alice Griffin

Educational Background: I recently graduated from Pratt Institute in New York City with a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science, with a personal focus in archives and information technology. For my undergraduate degree, I studied anthropology and French at Barnard College in New York City.

Previous Experience: During college, I worked in the Barnard College Archives and Special Collections where I developed an intense appreciation of archival collections, archival work, and archivists themselves! For two summers during college I interned in the Archives and Modern Manuscripts Division at the National Library of Medicine.

After college, I taught English in French public schools, then returned to the U.S. and interned at the National Anthropological Archives, working in the reference room and on processing projects. In late 2016, I began working as the Metadata/Digitization Assistant at the Archives of La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, where I continued working through graduate school.

Why I like Archives/Professional Interests: I like archives because it’s a field where continual learning and critical inquiry are encouraged. I also enjoy how archival work facilitates new research and scholarship. Generally, I am interested in how archival description can best facilitate access for different communities of users.

Other interests: I love live music in small venues and have a soft spot for good bar trivia.

Looking forward to working on the following project(s) while at Princeton: I’m looking forward to the many projects I’ll be working on this summer! I’ll be starting with processing the Peter Bunnell Papers; then, I’ll be working with some born-digital materials and French language collections. Also looking forward to responding to remote reference with public services.

Now Accepting Applications for the 2019 Archival Fellowship for Manuscripts Division Collections

Princeton University Library’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) is excited to offer the Archival Fellowship for Manuscripts Division Collections again this year. The fellowship provides a summer of paid work experience for a current or recent graduate student interested in pursuing an archival career.

Fellowship Description: The 2019 Fellow will primarily gain experience in technical services, with a focus this year on arrangement and description of manuscript collections, including hybrid collections with born-digital and audiovisual materials. Additional projects may include assisting with reference and other public services tasks. The Fellow will work under the guidance of the team of processing staff responsible for collections within RBSC’s Manuscripts Division, including the Lead Processing Archivist, Project Archivist for Americana Manuscripts Collections, Processing Archivist for General Collections, and the Latin American Processing Archivist.

The Manuscripts Division of Rare Books and Special Collections is located in Firestone Library, Princeton University’s main library, and holds over 14,000 linear feet of materials covering five thousand years of recorded history and all parts of the world, with collecting strengths in Western Europe, the Near East, the United States, and Latin America. The Fellow will primarily work with the Division’s expansive literary collections, the papers of former Princeton faculty, and collections relating to the history of the United States during the 18th and 19th centuries.

The ten- to twelve-week fellowship program, which can begin as early as May, provides a stipend of $950 per week. In addition, travel, registration, and hotel costs to the Society of American Archivists’ annual meeting in August will be covered by Princeton.

Requirements: This fellowship is open to current graduate students or recent graduates (within one year of graduation). Applicants must have successfully completed at least twelve graduate semester hours (or the equivalent) applied toward an advanced degree in archives, library or information management, literature, American history/studies, or other humanities discipline, public history, or museum studies; a demonstrated interest in the archival profession; good organizational and communication skills; and the ability to manage multiple projects. At least twelve undergraduate semester hours (or the equivalent) in a humanities discipline and/or foreign language skills (particularly Spanish-language reading skills) are preferred.

The Library highly encourages applicants from under-represented communities to apply.

To apply: Applicants should submit a cover letter, resume, and two letters of recommendation addressed to the processing team at mssdiv@princeton.edu. Applications must be received by Monday, March 4, 2019. Video interviews will be conducted with the top candidates, and the successful candidate will be notified by April 5th.

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.

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY/AFFIRMATIVE ACTION EMPLOYER.

Meet the 2018 Summer Archival Fellow

Under the supervision of the processing team for Manuscripts Division collections, the summer fellow will be assisting staff with various projects, particularly processing projects that will include working with paper-based, born-digital, and audiovisual content.

Name: Sara Rogers

Educational background:  I just graduated from The University of Texas at Austin where I obtained my Master’s degree in Information Studies at the School of Information. As an undergraduate I studied History and English at the University of Denver.

Previous experience:  After graduating from college, I worked for several years in the Records department of a financial institution in Denver, Colorado. While I enjoyed the kind of work I was doing I knew I really wanted to work with special collections and materials that could be shared with the public. 

In Austin, I had the opportunity to work for the Briscoe Center for American History as the Archives Intern and as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Alexander Architectural Archives. I also worked on a digitization project for a production company and an audiovisual project for South by Southwest.

Why I like archives/Professional interests:  I feel lucky to have been exposed to archives early on. When I first started college I immediately went to the main library on campus to fulfill my lifelong dream of being paid to read books all day. Instead, the hiring manager heard I was planning on studying history and wisely assigned me to work in Special Collections and Archives.

Other interests:  I love traveling! I grew up an Army Brat, so I’ve been fortunate enough to have had some amazing opportunities to live and study abroad. However, despite being fairly well traveled, this is my first time spending a significant amount of time on the East Coast. So I’m excited to spend my weekends exploring the area and visiting nearby cities. If anyone has any travel tips/suggestions let me know!

Looking forward to working on the following project(s) while at Princeton: This summer I will be processing legacy collections, testing and documenting born-digital workflows, learning how to use the 3D printer, working with public services and more! While I have spent the past year working with born-digital materials and creating documentation for digital preservation, I am excited to have the opportunity to process paper collections again and to work with public services.