Year in the Life: Sofía Becerra-Licha, Pt. 7

Much like Emily, I’m finding June has come and (nearly) gone in the blink of an eye. Nevertheless, slowly but surely, we’re continuing to make progress on a variety of fronts here at Berklee.

Processing continues to hum along, with my intern alternating between wrapping up the rehousing of the Alma Berk collection of photographs and processing Lawrence Berk’s notebooks on the Schillinger method of composition. More publicly, we recently published two new finding aids: for the Bobby Vince Paunetto papers and for the Franklin McGinley collection on Duke Ellington. Both collections posed some interesting challenges, albeit for different reasons.

The Bobby Vince Paunetto papers include scores, sketches, papers, and sound recordings in reel, DAT, and compact disc formats, both published and unpublished. Paunetto graduated from Berklee in 1973 and was an innovative Latin jazz composer and musician. Despite being struck by Multiple Sclerosis in the prime of his performance career, Paunetto was able to return to writing music. His output was impressive: between 1985 and 1993 he wrote over 300 works and he recorded his fourth and fifth albums in the late 1990s.

The Paunetto papers were a formidable challenge to process because of the sheer volume of scores (including many duplicates) and an absolute lack of discernible original order. Fortunately, my student assistant was a huge help in foldering the papers and creating an inventory so that hopefully it’s a much more manageable set of materials to navigate. But even at a relatively minimal level of processing, it was a bit of a slog.

By contrast, the Franklin McGinley collection on Duke Ellington was much more straightforward, in terms of scope and cubic footage. This considerably smaller collection consists of clippings, commemorative materials, and a scrapbook documenting the rise of swing music and, in particular, Duke Ellington’s career and legacy. The scrapbook includes artwork and many musician autographs. Notable signatures include Roy Eldridge, Coleman Hawkins, Louis Armstrong, Harry Carney, and an extremely rare Jimmy Blanton.


The items in the McGinley collection came to us in two stages. The scrapbook (pictured above)  arrived first, and for all the painstaking illustrations, it lacked any identifying information or accompanying documentation on the donor. So as I drafted an initial finding aid, all I knew was that it had been donated by a Berklee faculty member years ago. Fortunately, the same (now retired) professor returned relatively recently with more materials from the same individual (loose clippings and other memorabilia).

Although we now have a name, Franklin McGinley, that’s about all I know about the creator. Moreover, the scrapbook is falling apart, many of the clippings are brittle, and most items in the final section are loose. So there’s further preservation work to be done (we’re aiming to scan the scrapbook in the near future). In many ways this collection feels more like a work-in-progress than a finished product, but what doesn’t in an archives?

In addition to encoding these finding aids, as always, I’ve been doing my best to chip away at sundry tasks. I spent some time catching up on accessions. Now that I’m more settled and on my second intern, I’ve also taken the opportunity to revise and create some additional processing documentation, including checklists for creating accession records and finding aids. I’m particularly mindful that we’re nearing the mid-point of our grant and, as such, I’ve been reviewing our workplan and interim narrative to make sure we’re in good shape for the more substantial NHPRC report due at the end of July.

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About Lisa H

Lisa is the archivist/librarian at the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center at Augustana College. She stumbled into archival work by way of the museum world and is always seeking ways to break down the silos of these professions. Lisa has worked in museums, libraries, and archives in Illinois, New York, and Alaska. While not at work, Lisa spends her free time biking, working on art projects, and putting her useless knowledge to good use on bar trivia teams. You can find her on Twitter @lisahuntsha.

One thought on “Year in the Life: Sofía Becerra-Licha, Pt. 7

  1. Pingback: Year in the Life: Sofía Becerra-Licha, Pt. 12 | SNAP roundtable

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