Katie Rojas is the newest participant in our Year in the Life series, which follows new archivists in their first professional position. We will be following Katie for a year. You can read the Katie’s previous posts here.
This has been a busy month! As a local government archive, we mostly collect records and items that were created by internal departments and officials. A couple weeks ago, one of our elected officials resigned to take another position, and we accessioned about ~100 cu. ft. of material from their department. It’s the first big accession that I’ve seen come in. We took in administrative files from the various people who worked in that department, as well as thank-you gifts, framed items, plaques, etc. that were given to the official. Much of the latter type of materials were packaged in extra large moving boxes, so I had one of our summer interns spend a day reboxing these items so that they would fit on the shelves properly.
Thankfully we have a van and I had assistance transporting the boxes!
Our organization is also blessed with space, so storage was not an issue. Unfortunately, I was not able to ask the office of origin for a basic inventory list upon accession because my supervisor wanted to make things easier on the donors. There was a meeting a couple weeks before the transfer took place, and since I knew I wasn’t getting an inventory list I asked people to label their boxes a certain way, but it didn’t really happen. At this point, all the boxes are labeled with the collection name and they are numbered, and that’s it.
Another major event that took place this past month was the submittal of a very large petition. My department is responsible for receiving petitions from citizens, counting the number of signatures, verifying that each signature is valid, and reporting that number to our elected representatives – within just two weeks of receipt. Did I mention that 20,000 valid petition signatures are necessary for an issue to be put on the election ballot? I’m not allowed to discuss the actual numbers or what went on beyond the basics that I’ve already mentioned, but suffice to say that this process is no easy task! The submittal of this petition meant that all hands were on deck to help out. Everyone in my department, including yours truly, was involved in this process. We worked late in the evenings, and some of us worked weekends to meet the deadline. I’m glad that petitions like this only come along once every decade or so. During this time I worked on precisely zero archives projects, but I thought this event was a good example of the other duties that I’m expected to perform as a government employee.
Currently, I’m processing the collection of another elected official who served in the 1970’s and 1980’s. It’s been very entertaining to read some of the news clippings and view photographs from his time in office and other professional activities. I’m picking up on the work of two past archivists, so there are inconsistent, half-finished inventory lists that I’m wrangling with and streamlining. The interns were able to help get through ~70 cu. ft. of this, but these were just the plaques, framed items, certificates, and other items. I haven’t even touched the paper records yet! We photographed several of these items, one of which was an oversized gavel. We definitely had fun with this! (I know it’s not exactly orthodox for archives to have so many artifact-type records, but it’s just part of what we collect.)
Our interns finished up with us a week ago, so I’m on my own again. They gave a post-internship presentation at the closing ceremony of their program, which I got to see. It was touching to hear the nice things they had to say about their experience and what they learned. I am definitely going to miss them!