Tag Archives: archives

Research and Rest.

Astroturf at a food truck fundraiser event I went to a few weeks ago.

Rounding the corner, leaving October behind and greeting November with a sigh of relief.  Sigh.  This is researching for the research paper month – gotta find enough useful primary and secondary sources to round out 40 pages of worthwhile prose.  I’m planning my attack of the Margaret Herrick Library; to dive into film fan magazines and film publicity.  Two papers:

(a) the image of Mexican immigrant actresses in early 1930s film

(b)the image of the “British” character in American films of the 1930s

I am less sure about (b) and need to go meet with a professor on that one.  Sometimes I start to feel like a one trick pony, what with my obsession with early 1930s film and every possible facet of it.

We’re entering the Cold War in the early 20th century popular culture class I TA for, which makes me a little nervous.  My Cold War history is pretty chilly – old bits of knowledge frozen away at the back of my brain.  Hopefully this class will thaw it out.

In the meantime, I had an absolutely relaxing weekend for once – convenient, as I got sick!  Ugh.  Talk about unfortunate (or fortunate?  I still haven’t decided).  Spent some time at the Dia de Los Muertos celebration Saturday evening, held at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  I had a great time, but ran of out steam near the end of it and had to go home early to curl up into the fetal position under a pile of blankets.  I’m still working on that 100% feeling, but this week should give me time to research and rest.

At work I’m still chugging along on the collection.  I’m nearing the end of the publications series and am just starting to chip away at the Press and Publicity segment.  Should be an interesting week!  I like publications, but they are often not particularly unique.


Culver City and Los Angeles from Culver City Park

I returned to Los Angeles at the end of August and encountered a giant workload which has kept me from having any sort of time/motivation to update this blog. However, I haven’t forgotten it exists! I’d like to continue to record my professional and personal adventures as a young adult type person, now returned to the City of Angels (and maybe also do a little reflecting on the close of this summer’s work).

There are four general threads that currently run through my life at the moment:
(1) Finishing my final year of grad school
(2) Processing a collection at my wonderful new/old Western Museum workplace
(3) Repping for the City of Los Angeles’ SurveyLA project
(4) Being as involved as possible with the Los Angeles archival scene

My other non-official duties involve:
(1) Sweeping up copious amounts of dog hair at home (from my roommate’s adorable but super shedding pup)
(2) (attempting to) Feed myself somewhat nutritious homemade things (takes time, time, time! sigh)
(3) Find time for boyfriend and friends (Time?! What is this?)

First though, I’ve gotta finish up a historiography paper on immigration. Personally, I find the topic of “immigration” a little broad for a concise 8-10 pager, but that’s what the boss ordered, so I’ve gotta deliver. One paper coming right up!


Working in the archive is punctuated by helping out other parts of the museum. Last week volunteers (and staff) dressed up for a mini-performance in one of the historic houses. This is the post-performance performance, haha.

I recently worked on three boxes of the collection that had lived in someone’s barn for decades (and apparently had a bird at some point crawl in and die, leaving behind a bird silloutte and little feathers all over a group of papers). These papers were (unsurprisingly) absolutely disgusting. Yikes! Though cleaning up the papers provided a welcome change of pace.

So far it’s been a weird combination of me making things up and looking up suggestions online. My supervisor sometimes makes statements like “it absolutely doesn’t matter what order the materials were in originally” that sort of blow my mind. I was pretty sure that taking note of the original arrangement (if there is one) was something worth doing. I was also criticized for sorting in piles, because when you sort you are not suppose to make piles?! (I’m not quite sure what that means!) At this point I feel like I was absolutely spoiled with all the knowledge and help from others at my last internship. I am a bit hesitant to mention these sorts of things on a public blog, especially as there are some helpful moments, but it is a part of what is shaping my experience here so it feel dishonest not to consider all aspects of the internship.

Cats in the archive! An envelope of kitten photos somehow ended up wedged in between photos of buildings of York. This should probably return to the collection’s original owner.


The bulk of the Peter Moore Collection is comprised of 20th century photographs and business related papers. Here is junk mail sent to Roger Norton, a local businessman. I’ve come to realize I love old junk mail!

What a past few weeks it’s been!

Once training finished I got a chance to start getting into my big project for the summer – the Peter Moore Collection. Peter Moore was (and is) a firefighter in the York area. He started collecting local postcards, both old and new, that documented the changes of the York area. He also began collecting all kind of local ephemera, especially of items that documented local businesses and celebrations – business cards, brochures, flyers, photographs, and publications. In the 1990s and early 2000s he wrote an article for the local paper on Unknown Histories of the area.There are a lot of duplicates to be weeded out, and a lot of photocopies of materials he found in the Museum for his article research.

I’m glad I reboxed 115 boxes of material earlier in the year – 38 boxes and a handful of binders don’t seem all that terrible to tackle. I’ve been seriously digging into the collection in the past week, and I’m almost halfway through an initial sorting!

The Museum has its roots as a historical society, and its roots still show in some places, particularly in the part of the Museum where I work. The project so far has been a great experience in terms of working through a collection and researching information for the finding aid, but I haven’t been learning as much about the technical details of archiving as I’d hoped. To make up for that I’ve been doing a lot of online research, reading the SAA list-serv archive and searching other museums and archives for advice on the handling of particular collection items and how to make a finding aid that is up to current standards.

Inside the 1930s junk mail envelope – a penny to be used for mailing in the contest entry slip.

Blank Slate.

In one month I ship off to York, Maine to start a 2.5 month internship.  I have never been to Maine before.  The closest I have ever been is Washington, D.C.  Or maybe Cincinnati, OH?  I’m not sure which one is actually closer.  Maybe this fact tells you something about what I know about the East.

That is a big part of why I am doing this though.  I am in love with the West Coast.  This is something I already know.  What do I not know?  The East Coast.  I want to find out if there is something I will love about that geography too.

The most difficult part in all of this is that I am leaving my human love in Los Angeles.  This is a big part of the challenge.

And so my countdown to the end of my first year of grad school has turned into a countup to my Maine adventure.

Palms, Los Angeles from friends’ rootop

March 2010