By Robin Waldman
Welcome to our newest venture, where we, members of the Textual Archives staff, will share our reference and processing experiences with you. Did you ever wonder how our records come to be processed, or what steps are involved? Did you ever ponder all the places a piece of paper has been before that moment in which it became important to you?
Sometimes our work days, like yours, are dreary. We remove a thousand staples or we fold a thousand fresh new folders. Some days, like yours, are filled with discovery. We carry something excitedly to our colleagues’ desks, exclaiming, “Read this! Look what I’ve found!” Many days are filled with elements of uncertainty. “How can I answer this question? Where should I look next?”
C. Herbert Finch, a senior archivist at Cornell University Libraries, famously addressed the joint meeting of the Society of American Archivists and the International Council of Archives in 1976. He said: “an archivist, to know what papers to keep, needs a solid grasp of history and must have ‘archival imagination’ and, finally, intuition. You just have to develop a gut feeling that some day someone will say, ‘Blessings on that archivist.’”
We’re here as civil servants, as keepers of the nation’s records, as historian daydreamers, as blessing seekers. And now we’re bloggers, too. Tell us: what would you like to know more about?