Day 9 in Rare Books & Special Collections

June 12, 2014 1:45-4:45pm

Well, I wasn’t able to finish writing the finding aid today, but I’m pretty close. I wrote all of the biographies, but I still have to write the biography for William Gresham. Lynda gave me a couple of folders about Gresham and the various things he had donated to the library to look through. There was a beautiful biography written by his family and it made me feel connected to the collection in a way I would not have expected. Lynda had explained to me on the first day of my internship that no one was going to be more involved or intimate with the collection than myself, and while I understood this to a point, I did not realize the depth of that intimate connection until today…

Going through a person’s personal letters is intimate in itself, but then as you read over each letter you gain a sense of what type of person this individual was. This isn’t solely based on who these semi-famous/famous people were who were writing him, but also HOW they wrote to him, items they sent him, and things he saved. For example, thank you letters, personal notes about significant others and children, a Christmas poem, a poem Gresham wrote himself, and programs for plays. All of these things revealed a man who was intelligent, interesting, involved with the arts and culture community, sociable, and a person people wanted to know. But then I read the family’s biography of Gresham and all of these little things I had picked up on when reading his letters were underlined and highlighted in my mind. His family described Gresham as a voracious reader who owned a large variety of books, including books written by Russian, French, Spanish, and Greek authors; a man who loved to learn and to share what he learned; a hard worker; and a man they were deeply proud of. How could you not feel intimately connected?

Then I had to arrange the folders within the Gresham Correspondence Collection, which I assumed would be very easy and, to be frank, boring. It wasn’t; not in the least. In fact, I started writing out the arrangement and then caught myself thinking “oh wait! This folder would be better suited before this one. But, I really feel like I need to go by dates” and this went on for forty-five minutes, until it was time for me to leave. I wasn’t able to finish arranging the folders because each time I organized several folders I would remember something about what was housed within the folders or the dates of the folders. I was able to arrange around 1/3 of the folders, but on Tuesday I may feel like they need to be rearranged again. Now I know what Lynda REALLY meant when she said that I would be the most familiar and intimate with the collection.

One more thing that crossed my mind today was how different the collection looked to me and how good that made me feel. I crave organization as it is, so perhaps that has something to do with this, but I enjoyed thinking back on what the collection looked like when I took it on and seeing the transition it made until items were within the folders and the folders were being arranged.

See you all Tuesday…


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