Week Fifteen: A Final Farwell

Say it isn’t so! Can you believe that the semester has already come to an end? It’s hard to imagine that it has been three months since I first began interning with the GLBT History Museum, and yet here we are. Wednesday was my last official day of my internship, although Monday I will be giving a final presentation on the work I did over these last few months…which I am admittedly quite nervous about. Keeping PowerPoint presentation under a certain time restraint have always been a surprisingly difficult task for me. Fortunately, however, I have plenty of photos to plaster all over my slides, so at the very least it will be colorful.

The most interesting part of this final week was Mr. David Benjamin, the head of the special collections department on campus, answered my email request during the Thanksgiving break regarding me shadowing them during their work hours. One of the things I was interested in learning during my internship was what the daily duties were like for people working in a professional archival environment. While my internship taught me useful skills and provided me with an understanding of things like assessing, processing, and creating finding aids, I was also curious what other skills or whatever duties an archivist might have to contend with on a day to day basis. Mr. David Benjamin invited me to come in on Wednesday afternoon, and I was expecting maybe a simple tour of the facility, maybe a quick chitchat with other members of the archival staff. Nope, instead I sat down at the table with Mr. Benjamin and he handed me a well-structured timetable itinerary list in which for thirty to forty minute intervals I would be handed off around the department meeting with everyone from Burak Ogreten, the senior archivist for special collection, Mary Rubin, the senior archivist for university archives, Becky Hammond, the senior LTA, and last but not least, Chris Saclolo, the conservator and book art aficionado. It was honestly a wonderful experience, and everyone who works in that department is incredibly friendly, knowledgeable, and clearly passionate about what it is that they do. I really could not say enough good things about all these people. It was fascinating listening to their job duties, their favorite and least favorite aspects of the job (which seemed to be meetings), and their background in the field.

I got to learn not only about their daily responsibilities, but also what programs they used, what skills they deemed most important, what difficulties they faced managing an archive in Florida. But even just as interesting I got to learn a lot about the collection itself and also a little bit about the people that cared for it. One of the definite highlights was learning about book art from Chris. He was kind enough to show me a few pieces from the collection, including his favorite, and I was happy to see that the hobbies we have and the things we enjoy doing do not have to be sacrificed in pursuing a career. It made me incredibly hopeful about my own future job prospects doing working with a subject in which I myself am passionate towards. They also gave me a lot of free stuff which was incredibly nice of them.

So yes! Special collections, wonderful people, I highly recommend everyone takes the opportunity to utilize its facilities while on campus, especially history or anthropology students.

The rest of my week was spent trying to finish up any loose ends regarding the Bruce Ground collection. Unfortunately, I was not able to finish the processing of the collection, however, I managed to create the series, the finding aid, physically reorganize the file folder arrangement, and provide a timeline and historical bibliography for the four boxes I had managed to get through. One of the aspects that made doing this collection somewhat harder is we kept stumbling across more and more boxes that we had somehow either missed previously or which Mr. Ground had remembered having. Overall, though, I am still proud of the progress I made and the things I learned during this internship, and I hope whether I seek to further my history education, or a degree in archival studies, library science, or wherever the winds of time take me, that I will be able to utilize the knowledge I have accumulated these last three months to benefit myself and those around me.

Congratulations for sticking with this blog to the end and surviving my ramblings. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much I did living it. I feel the need to attach a big “thank you” to the GLBT History Museum, Dr. Beiler, Mr. French, Kayla Campana, Special Collections, and to everyone else that made this internship such an enjoyable and educational experience. See you around!

Week Thirteen: COWP and Pictures!

Undeniably the highlight of the week was this past Saturday, which was our long anticipated Come Out with Pride parade and festival. After months of planning and an unexpected delay courtesy of Hurricane Hermine, I arrived at Eola Park around 8:30 in the morning planning on being there until roughly 7 o’clock that evening. I had come prepared, though, bought myself a subway sandwich, and was pleased to find that our tent was located strategically across the way from a Panera Bread, meaning caffeine was in easy reach.

Dr. Beiler and the other volunteers arrived precisely around 9:15, and we began the process of constructing our tent which had to be up and operating by 11 AM, although I am not sure how heavily enforced this rule was. After fighting the tent flap for a good 15 minutes and wrestling with giant bags of rice (which we were using as weights), we finished with about an hour to spare, which gave us more than enough time to walk down to the Orange County Regional History Center to see the GLBT History Museum’s “Pride, Prejudice, & Protest” exhibit. The exhibit, which was free that day, was very interesting, funny at times, hopeful, depressing, and deeply moving. At the end of the exhibit there was a lovely memorial set up for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub, and seeing a young woman probably no older or younger than myself crying in the arms of her friends over the loss of someone she had once known and loved really put the importance of the whole project into perspective for visitors. The exhibit itself, which runs until January 26, is a must for anyone interested in LGBT History or in promoting LGBT rights. There’s a link for the exhibit on the museum’s main website for those interested; http://www.thehistorycenter.org/exhibition/pride-prejudice-protest-glbt-life-in-greater-orlando/.

I spent most of the festival sitting behind a white plastic table selling t-shirts and handing out pamphlets to people interested in participating in the upcoming History Harvest. The work itself was relatively simple and at times borderline monotonous, but never boring. There was always something interesting going on around you, whether it was people dressed in bright and flashy costumes, fluffy dogs walking around the outline of the park, people laughing, music playing, and the strange and not always complimentary smells of food and perfumes floating around the tents. I didn’t have time though to experience the parade itself, and I chose mostly to remain by the tent as the hour plus long parade cruised down the street (I am not, admittedly, a big crowd person). Still, I was given some time to walk around the area, glancing at a few of the tents and spectacles happening around me. I was most bemused by NASA’s tent, which had displays up on reusable rockets and journeys to Mars, which as a Space Coast resident, was fun to see.

I actually remembered this time to take some photos, so here they are!

 

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Our lovely banner!

 

 

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You can see some of the t-shirts we were selling. They were originals from 1990.

 

 

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All the hardworking volunteers!

 

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Talking to visitors about the History Harvest

 

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Monday and Wednesday were in comparison to the fun and festivities of COWP relatively tame. I spent Monday helping Dr. Beiler to move the Bruce Ground collection back to its usual space outside her office and proceeded to spent the rest of Monday and Wednesday processing. Dr. Beiler was even kind enough to take some more photos of me entrapped by boxes, which I think probably gives you a better understanding of how I spent my week than anything I write here might. Basically, it involved a lot of manila folders, sticky notes, erasing, and papercuts.

 

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Me trying to Google what Bear Bust is….

 

 

 

 

Week Twelve: More Walking

I should start by discussing what I didn’t do this week, which was namely my internship. Convoluted, I know, but stick with me. This week was unbelievably busy, but it was this business itself which prevented me from achieving much in regards to the processing of my collection.

Due to an event, which was being hosted in honor of the bicentennial of the nation…well, rather an event being hosted which highlighted an exhibit which focused on the celebration of the bicentennial itself in 1976, the room I had been using to process the Bruce Ground collection was off limits for the duration of the week. This was not necessarily inconvenient to me since I had been aware of the move since roughly the beginning of October, but it did mean I had to hustle Monday morning to move the boxes from the fifth floor to the second.

This, given the size and quantity of the collection, proved to eat up a good chunk of my morning and afternoon on Monday. From about 9 o’clock AM to roughly 2 o’clock PM I found myself racing back and forth up five flights of stairs and zigzagging in and out of an elevator shaft trying to balance armfuls of giant plastic bin boxes loaded full of binders and fragile glass objects.

I had been told to unload my treasure trove in the RICHES department on the second floor of Colbourn Hall, which I am somewhat embarrassed to admit, took me forever to find. When I did, I was instructed to store my boxes in a back computer room with a somewhat limited amount of space available. In their defense, I later found out that the poor people of the RICHES department were not necessarily expecting me, and likely underestimated the actual size of my collection. As such the room, I ended up in was tight, and there was little leg room, let alone work room for me to accomplish much in the ways of processing. In moving the collection, I also found myself opening so many doors, and subsequently slamming them shut to the point that I am sure I began to grate upon the officer workers in the suite. I tried to be quiet as possible, but opening a door with your foot is harder than it seems.

At around 1 PM I had accomplished my goal of removing all the folders and boxes to its new abode, and set about trying to process a bit more of the collection, but found it increasingly difficult to accomplish. There was not much in the way of table space, and I had to make sure not to block the rows of computers which lined the walls of the office. In the end, I managed to process about two more files worth of the collection before realizing I had run out of sticky notes and folders and decided to call it a day until after I had met with Dr. Beiler, which I did at around 2 PM.

Dr. Beiler seemed worried about the folders lying out in the open and had me go back and reorganize them into boxes, which would hopefully provide an extra layer of protection for the collection over the remainder of the week and weekend. After speaking with her over the space issue she suggested I leave the processing for the following week, noting that I had gone over my internship hours anyways and that Saturday I would be working from 9 AM to 7 PM for the Come Out with Pride in Lake Eola.

Having spent Monday mostly doing heavy lifting, and finding myself with no reason to come in on Wednesday, my internship week proved to be unexpectedly uneventful. However, given how busy, exhausting, eventful, and hopefully fun Saturday will be, I admit I am somewhat relieved that the week was as stress-free as it was.

But, when I move the boxes back to the fifth floor, I am going to use a dolly cart. I keep forgetting I am not actually an Olympic weightlifting champion.

Week Eleven: Walking and Parking

Monday, I finally began the physical arrangement of the Bruce Ground collection. I was hoping to meet with him before beginning this step, but since our interview with Mr. Ground was moved I had to start without him. As previously noted some aspects of the collection were easier to group than others, and the six or eight binders I had left over I sorted between two plastic containers and began the long process of moving them from Coulborn Hall to my parked car near the UCF Arena. As you can imagine, this was a time consuming and probably poorly planned project on my part. Exercise and I go together as well as orange juice and toothpaste. Between my flimsy arms with and bad knees, the process of lugging boxes full of binders across campus four times a day three times a week was not my weekly highlight to be sure. Should I have moved my car closer? Probably. Should I maybe have gotten a pulley? Maybe. But, I am an optimist and am therefore hoping that all this heavy lifting will be good for my immune system. I need all the help I can get kicking this nasty cold. xD

Wednesday morning, I arrived at The Center around 11 AM to give me enough time to set up for my interview with Bruce Ground, which evidently I needed as I ended up having to park at the very end of the street from The Center. Mr. Bruce, however, was right on time and arrived promptly at 1:00 PM. I didn’t even have time to set up the camera before he began delving into the binder’s contents. Most of the binders in which I had questions were packed full of items like tickets, advertisements, brochures, ribbons, and most prominently, photographs. The photos, in particular, took the longest part of the interview to get through, as they often prompted Mr. Ground to relate interconnected memories, which while genuinely interesting, could on occasion, go on for several minutes.

The only issues we faced regarding time constraints was in relation to parking since Dr. Beiler and myself ended up having to play an endless came of cat and mouse with the parking police, who enforced a strict two-hour parking limit on the street.

All, in all, however, the interview, I feel, was a relative success, and my fears regarding speaking or leading the interview were unnecessary as Mr. Ground had no problems filling in the silence with stories and quips about his time owning Out & About Books or staring as Bette Davis in one of his numerous Box Revue productions.

The interview has given me some ideas on how to go about finishing the rest of the collection’s processing, and I am hoping the addition of his interview on film will present a nice bonus to the preservation and usefulness of this collection for future researchers.

You must forgive me again if this update is lacking, I had to go to the doctor’s today and while the medicine I was given is certainly helping with my bronchial infection, it is also making me extremely somnolent and incoherent in my thoughts. Hopefully, I will get over this brief blips of sickness and will return to my longer and more detailed posts.

Week Ten: Sick and Tired

This week’s blog update is likely going to be considerably shorter, mostly because a lot of things I thought were going to happen did not, and also because my allergies are acting up, and I have found myself coming down with some weird combination of stuffy nose meets a sore throat meets a raging migraine. Basically, staring at a computer screen is not helping to alleviate my symptoms.

Sunday was probably the most eventful day of the week, as we had our first History Harvest of the year. As expected, it was relatively unattended given our lack of advertisement during the Come Out with Pride Event. We had a total of two people show up, one of which was a member of the board itself, and the other a friend of the member of the board. However, despite the small pull of participants, both individuals brought in enough items that we ended up having to stay an hour past our scheduled closing just to finish scanning all the photos, letters, documents, and objects brought to The Center. It was a pretty good haul of objects, and I am hopeful with more publicity we will have a larger turnout for the next harvest in December.

Monday morning I found that I had received a response from Bruce Ground from the email I had sent him the day before. Since he had not answered my Facebook message I finally decided to reach out to him the old fashion way and appeared to have better luck. I can’t blame him. I am, myself, not much of a Facebook user. From the email, I gathered that he was interested in meeting with me to review the collection, and set several dates for which he was available to meet, namely that upcoming Wednesday, and the following Tuesday and Thursday. Since I generally have classes all day Tuesday and Thursday I immediately responded to the email and suggested we meet in two days to go over the collection together.

Dr. Beiler suggested I rent a camera to conduct a quasi-oral history, which I was somewhat nervous about given that I had not prepared for any formal sort of interview. But, still, I found myself the following day on Tuesday borrowing a camera from Kayla Campana, which required a surprisingly large amount of paperwork…just saying. But somehow with camera in hand and tripod under arm, I managed to smuggle (well…not really smuggle) my equipment back to Dr. Beiler’s office for my interview the following day…

…Which never happened. Unfortunately, Mr. Ground never answered my email from Monday morning, so I had no idea whether or not I was meant to expect him to arrive on campus that day. To make matters worse I had somehow managed to get sick somewhere between Monday afternoon and Wednesday morning, and found it difficult to talk, which would really have put a damper on conducting an oral interview had I not been able to well…form words. I suppose in that respect I was admittedly somewhat relieved when Mr. Ground did not magically appear in the doorway of my makeshift workspace, and by 1:00 pm I groggily made my way back to my dorm where I collapsed into a pile of ibuprofen, tea, cough drops, and heated water bottles. I also made sure, however, before leaving, to shoot him an additional email, this time instead utilizing my personal email account over that of my ucf one. Goodness knows what gets sent to a person’s spam.

By Thursday, I had managed, somehow, to receive a second reply from Mr. Bruce stating that something had come up, and due to automobile difficulties he had been more or less reliant on the city buses to get around Orlando. As such, he requested that the interview be moved from the UCF campus to The Center. I personally did not have a preference in regards to the physical location of the interview itself, but I knew moving the whole collection would be more or less impossible. Hopefully, I will hear back from him at some point within the next few days to hash out a possible frame of time in which he would be willing and able to meet with me.

Also, hopefully, I will be feeling much better and have my voice back before then.

 

Week Nine: Facebook and Bette Davis

My week officially began Sunday at my monthly meeting with the GLBT History Board. Given the unexpected turn of events regarding the Come Out with Pride, I was certainly curious to see how the board would go about handling these sudden and unexpected changes. After all, one of the major reasons for our participation with COWP in addition to enticing people to visit our exhibit was also to offer us the opportunity to advertise for the upcoming History Harvest, which of course never happened. The event had been rescheduled for November 12, which gave us all just enough time to freak out with a few minutes left over to salvage what we could. The biggest problem we faced was the issue concerning volunteers. It had taken a considerable amount of work and weeks of preparation in order to scrounge up even the few volunteers we had been able to amass for October, and now we had to essentially begin from scratch all over again. To complicate the matter further because everyone had arranged their calendars to coincide with the event in October, even a large percentage of the board members themselves found that they would be out of state the week of the event. I myself was momentarily unsure of whether or not I would be able to come as I knew I had to go home a weekend in November for early voting. Dr. Beiler said she would send a mass email out to those who had previously volunteered, but given the short notice as well as the fact that school is heating up with midterms, I do not expect the turnout to be as high as we had in October.

However, since we will no longer be expected to advertise for the History Harvest in November, perhaps we will not need as many volunteers this time around either. I do wonder how the hurricane will affect the outpouring of guests too. I know there were people as far away as California planning on coming to the event. Another issue we faced, which I personally found somewhat amusing, although I am sure the board might have disagreed somewhat, was that they had printed probably hundreds of brochures and promotional flyers advertising upcoming events for the GLBT History Museum, one of which was the History Harvest in November. Unfortunately, however, we had made a slight error, giving the correct date, but citing the incorrect day of the week that the event would be on. As such, the small business cards and their paper equivalents were…somewhat misleading, and had to be scrapped. Some of them will likely have the day changed from Saturday to Sunday utilizing the powers of the all mighty sharpie marker, but it still must have been irksome for the board who was already dealing with twenty other problems at the time.

The History Harvest, which is our next major scheduled event will be this upcoming Sunday between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm at The Center. Naturally, we’re not expecting much of a crowd to show, given that, as previously stated, our advertisement for the event never really got off the ground. I believe we have a second one scheduled sometime in December, however, I do not know if I will still be interning with the GLBT History Center at this point in time. Regardless, even if not many people show up, I am still excited since this will be my first History Harvest, and it is one of the few moments in which as an archivist I will be interacting with the public. We also arranged to go visit the exhibit at the city hall at some point in time during our next board meeting in November. So, at least there’s that bit of uplifting news 🙂

The only other major thing to report about the board meeting was my update regarding my progress regarding the completion of The Center collection and mentioned that I was beginning the processing of the Bruce Ground, and was interested in seeking an informal oral history with him. Isn’t it funny how only a couple of blog posts ago I went on at length about how I would make for a terrible oral historian, and yet some two weeks later here I am. I was hoping since Mr. Ground had been a member of the GLBT History board they might have been able to provide me with a means of contacting him, and sure enough the president, David Bain, was able to supply me with an email account and phone number, although he warned me that they might both be obsolete. Still, it was a starting point. I had already found him on Facebook, so Dr. Beiler suggested I first try and reach out to him through a chat message since that was the most direct line of contact I had with him. With that done, the meeting ended.

MONDAY, I found myself in a bit of a standstill. All last week I had been hashing out my rudimentary list of series, doing my best to group binder after binder into something that resembled what could possibly be called a finding aid. However, because I had to wait for Dr. Beiler to come in to approve the list, I was more or less blocked from further progress on the collection. In some ways, though I think this is good because it gave me more time to adjust my series, go through the collection a third or fourth time, and change my mind about the wording or order of certain things. It also gave me more time to think of other questions to ask Bruce Ground if and when I met with him for my oral interview. Which, might I just say…is really hard. As I said before, I am not the most eloquent in the art of public speaking, and therefore, trying to think of questions, especially insightful and open-ended questions, was proving to be my Achilles heel. The more I sought to prepare for an interview with him, the more nervous I became about the interview itself. What happens if my questions weren’t engaging enough? What happens if they were too general? What happens if they were too specific? How did I balance between conducting a good general oral interview and simultaneously get the answers I needed for the specific questions I had in mind? I didn’t really know. Honestly, I am still trying to figure it out. It seemed to me the best oral historians were those who said the least and listened the most. But were somehow still amazing at directing and moving the conversation along. Perhaps I will listen to a few more on RICHES.

By noon, Dr. Beiler came, and within an hour she had me in her office reviewing my series. A good chunk of our conversation revolved around my original dilemma last week, which was balancing between having too many series as opposed to having too few. She agreed with me in that the collection itself could be most easily divided between BUSINESS and PERSONAL. When I asked about any general rules regarding the number of series as compared to the general size of the collection itself, she seemed to suggest that it was all very dependent upon the nature of the collection you were working with. Although she seemed supportive of my initial ideas, she suggested simplifying it further by taking them and trying to break them down between those two overarching themes, BUSINESS and PERSONAL. We seemed to both agree that the simplest method of processing the collection was simply by maintaining two series, and then breaking it down further into several different sub-series. In comparison to The Center, this is drastically different in form and layout, which I suppose I wasn’t initially expecting. After all, The Center collection had been composed of some 12 series and at least 3 subseries, and this one, in turn, would likely consist of 2 series and more than a 12 subseries. But, I honestly do think this is the simplest and most logical hierarchical order. The only foreseeable problem I face is ultimately deciding whether or not something should be categorized as personal or business. As I believe I mentioned in my last blog update, some of the objects, letters, documents, and postcards lie somewhat ambiguously on the fence. Personal letters concerning business, business being interrupted by personal matters, personal events taking place at his place of business. Still, I think I am off to a good start.

WEDNESDAY I found myself dividing my time between reordering my series into subseries and getting up the courage to message Bruce Ground on Facebook. In the end I managed to divide the vast majority of the series into BUSINESS and PERSONAL and decided in addition to create a third series called PROJECTS which would be used to house the work Ground did for the GLBT History board such as his yearly History Projects, as well as work he did for a production company called Out Front. However, I still have a lot of questions, namely in regards to how Bruce himself related to a lot of material in the collection. What was Out Front Productions? Was that a part of the GLBT History Board, or was that his own personal production company? What ever became of their Out in Orlando: Gay Travel Video? How was he related to such groups as the Orlando Gay Chorus? Was he a member? Was he just a supporter? What was the Hat Box Revue? Who is Bill Rausch to him? Why did he include letters regarding his death? Was he a friend? An employee? A neighbor? Red Ribbon Ball? The Headdress Ball? Disney Gay Days? And I still have no idea who Bette Davis is! The greatest mystery of them all!

Unfortunately, these questions remain a mystery, and as I am writing this now I have still yet to receive a response to my message on Facebook. I am hoping that he simply did not see it and is not actively avoiding me. Although I suppose I am a pretty intimidating person, so it’s completely understandable. If I do not hear back from him by the end of the day perhaps I will try a more traditional means of contact, such as an email. I feel a little strange just calling him up, though, especially after just having reached out to him via Facebook.

Well, even if I do not hear back from him in time before the History Harvest on Sunday, it’s fine. It will, I suppose, give me, even more, time to think of some good questions. Until next time!

Week Eight: Back to the Start

This week was somehow both surprisingly simplistic and yet simultaneously difficult. Deceitfully difficult, which is the worst kind, I think. Monday and Wednesday I officially began the processing of the Bruce Ground collection. Having spent last week trying to get an overview of the collection, I was somewhat dreading this moment because of the sheer volume of information packed into each container. While Dr. Beiler noted that the collection itself was much smaller than that of The Center, I found myself at times simply overwhelmed by the sheer diversity of the subject matter present within it. This collection has so many tangled components, combining both personal and professional elements, to the point that I found myself at times just sitting there trying to decide on what my first step should even be in tackling my latest project.  I ultimately determined that the overall subject matter of the collection could be divided into key areas of focus, namely business related material and personal. Of course, even deciding that much was no small feat, since I often found myself stumbling across items which could easily have fit into both categories quite easily. By the end of the first day, I finally decided to take a step back from the collection and consult with the notes I had gathered together from Gregory S. Hunter’s Developing and Maintaining Practical Archives. I knew I would end up coming back to this!

Step 1. “Prepare to process the collection: Make certain that there is sufficient workspace to spread records out during sorting.” – Well…we’ll skip that one. However, I should note I am getting surprisingly good at not tripping over boxes/laptop chargers every time I go to get up. Progress.

Step 2. “Review the accession register and other acquisition documents”. – I did review the preliminary draft made by Kyle Messamore, but I have already noticed some discrepancies between his original edition and the current collection. For one, he has an entire segment devoted to t-shirts, which having gone through all five boxes…do not seem to exist. I can only assume that at some point the shirts were moved to another box or holding area within the storage unit to prevent damage, and as such somehow were either misplaced or disassociated with the rest of the collection. I will have to ask Dr. Beiler about this next Monday. Also, I noticed that within Kyle’s version of the finding aid he only divided the collection into two over-arching series, Personal and Business. At first, I was pretty ecstatic that we both came to the same underlying conclusion, but then I also began to wonder if that was too broad a categorization for a whole collection. Admittedly I don’t have too much experience creating finding aids, but having only two series and then more than a dozen sub-series seemed impractical from a research standpoint. He also had some broad groupings, such as an entire sub-series labeled “documents” but no noticeable divisions between the paperwork, whether they were letters, tax forms, emails, land surveys, or advertisements. While it did give me a few ideas, I feel I will end up veering away from a lot of his initial concepts, which I suppose in the end is a part of the process.

Step 3. “Go Through the entire collection without rearranging anything: This initial pass is to confirm the information in the accession register, give you a feel for the collection, and allow you to come to some conclusion about the series.” – And what an interesting collection it is. I think my favorite part about going through the collection is just developing a better understanding of who Bruce Ground is through his experience as a business owner of Out & About Books. Admittedly, there is something almost surreal about creating a collection and becoming intimate with the life story of a man who you have never met and who is still very much alive and out there. If that superstition about sneezing whenever someone mentions you in conversation is true then poor Mr. Ground has had a rough week. It was fascinating following his life story from box to box. I marveled at his childhood growing up on a tobacco farm in Kentucky, something which having grown up on a farm in Massachusetts was both familiar and yet unfamiliar to me. I sympathized with him when he struggled in college and when he dealt with depression after moving to Florida. I was happy for him and cheered him on when he opened his first bookstore. And I was devastated for him when I learned of the passing of his partner Gary from AIDS. It was a rollercoaster, and it was only the first three boxes. Reading all the heartfelt letters of congratulations for the anniversary of the opening of his business, to reading the letters of condolences regarding the passing of Gary, you could see how important Bruce Ground and his bookstore were for the LGBT community of Central Florida.

4.“Develop the processing plan: Sketch out the order the final collection will have.” – Admittedly I never really understood this step. How can I sketch out the order of the final collection before even creating the series? I suppose the trickiest aspect of this step, however, is deciding upon whether or not to keep original order. In some cases, the binders contain objects, items, and documents which have no apparent connection to one another, and as such, I’ll have to decide whether or not to move those around, or maintain Ground’s original sequence.

5. “Sort the collection into series: In this second pass, through the collection, separate records into the series identified in the processing plan. Place the series in order in which they will appear in the processed collection.” – So much of my time on Monday and Wednesday was spent essentially attempting to formulate some semblance of order out of the chaotic life of Bruce Ground. On the surface, the idea of creating series is fairly straight forward. Find common characteristics shared by items and group them into a larger subject. Easy. Except it’s actually quite overwhelming at times.

Obviously, there were some series within the collection which came more readily to mind. I knew I was going to need a series dedicated to BUSINESS RECORDS given the high volume of documents related to such things as land surveys, zoning approvals, fire inspections, customer mailing lists, employee resumes, and purchase records. Likewise, I noted that a separate series involving FINANCIAL RECORDS would probably be warranted to address taxes, sales agreements, account books, income ledgers, rent agreements…on the surface it seemed simple enough. But after a while, I began to worry that perhaps the business series was getting too big. Before I knew if I had customer surveys, customer concerns, letters from customers regarding good service, letters from customers regarding returned goods, a letter directed towards newspapers by Bruce Ground regarding Out & About Books. I tried making other series like, BUSINESS MANAGEMENT, BUSINESS CONCERNS, BUSINESS RELATED CORRESPONDENCE to correlate with PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE (which got messy because there were all these letters sent by friends and old customers regarding the closing of the bookstore, so…was that personal or business?), but of course this made me feel like all these series were unnecessary and they could all be grouped simply under BUSINESS…which brought me back to my original problem of only having two series.

You would not believe the amount of time I spent just staring at my computer screen hitting backspace only to retype the same series name in again. In the end, I was somewhat alarmed to discover that I had somehow created fifteen series for a collection that was supposed to be smaller than the final twelve series Center Collection. What can you do?

  1. BUSINESS RECORDS
  2. FINANCIAL RECORDS
  3. BUSINESS MANAGEMENT
  4. BUSINESS CORRESPONDENCE
  5. PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE
  6. GLBT HISTORY MUSEUM
  7. ADVERTISEMENT
  8. COMMUNITY EVENTS + INVOLVEMENT
  9. LEGAL DOCUMENTS
  10. AWARDS
  11. BOOKSTORE EVENTS
  12. BOOKSTORE PUBLICATIONS
    1. NEWSPAPERS (Sub-series)
    2. BOOKS (sub-series)
    3. MAGAZINES (sub-series)
    4. POSTERS (sub-series)
  13. BOOKSTORE ASSOCIATIONS
  14. TOMES + TREASURES
  15. SCRIPTS AND PRODUCTIONS

Week Seven: Bookstores and Hurricanes

There was a TV series that came out a few years back called The Librarians on TNT, which I believe was based off a made for TV movie of the same name. Much like The Mummy and Indian Jones, The Librarians presented the viewer with a somewhat misconstrued understanding of what it is that a librarian actually does for a living. And by that I mean the general day to day work of these librarians included everything from rescuing a kidnapped Santa Claus, fighting their way out of the Minotaur’s Labyrinth, and going to a night club owned by Oscar Wilde’s very own, Dorian Gray. Take a moment to digest that. Anyways, there was a particular episode I remember watching one weekend I was home in which the Librarians battled a villain which could make fictional characters come to life. The big baddy of this episode was Prospero, and his storm making fairy servant, Ariel from Shakespeare’s classic The Tempest. The only thought I had throughout the whole episode was, “this might be the most realistic scenario in this entire show. Someday, as a librarian in Florida, I might have to fight a giant storm.” Well, that day has come. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Monday afternoon I was to meet with Dr. Beiler to go through The Center collection with her, file by file, to make sure it coincided with the finding aid, that all the folders were named according to the correct naming conventions, and that the titles coincided with its contents. As such I spent the morning from eight to twelve familiarizing myself with my newest collection, the Bruce Ground. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this collection, other than it had to do with a bookstore called Out & About Books, which had by the time I moved to Orlando closed. In this respect, I imagined a lot of the material would pertain to financial information, mailing listings, company policies, and order purchases. And a lot of it did. There were boxes full of customer surveys, photographs of parties and events held at the bookstore, and binders full of educational documents pertaining to bookstore associations, conventions, and business management tips. The collection however also provided an interesting lesson, I think, in showcasing some of the more sensitive materials an archivist might find themselves encountering during their professional career.  A lot of the books included in the collection were borderline erotica, and the calendars, magazines, and numerous other papered publications left little to the viewer’s imagination. Needless to say, I spent the entire morning trying to decide on a good one liner explanation in case one of the many professors who share Dr. Beiler’s office suit should come in to see me surrounded by stacked magazines of questionable content. I suppose these are just the hazards of the job. So, while I am still learning a lot about the collection, I know it’ll be a humorous journey in the very least.

At around noonish, Dr. Beiler came in for our weekly meeting, and since I had no assigned readings, we got right to work reviewing The Center collection. Since I had a meeting at two o’clock with Tiffany Rivera, we had a little under two hours to get through the bulk of it…which we actually managed to do, surprisingly. As previously mentioned, most of our time was spent making sure that the physical order of the files matched what was written on my excel spreadsheet, that the titles correlated with one another, and that the file numbering was according to our standards. For the most part, everything seemed in order. Some files were physically moved around chronologically, and a few titles were renamed or rewritten. The biggest issue we faced was that the numbering systems written on each folder were sporadic and not at all concise, meaning one of my jobs for Wednesday would be to go through all 200 plus folders and renumber them. I had never been so terrified in my life of counting until that moment. Another issue we dealt with concerned the reorganization of some folders into different series. Some of the files listed under Scrapbooks seemed more appropriate under Local Publications, and a few individual items seemed better suited in another folder. However, in the end, it was far less complicated than I had initially feared it would be.

With that done I went downstairs to meet with Tiffany Rivera. My meeting with her was relatively brief, and she mostly just wanted to make sure that we had all our supplies in order and to provide me with an update on her end of the project. She told me she’d have all the pamphlets, papers, and parcels ready to go by Wednesday and would drop them off with Kayla Campana so Dr. Beiler and I could swoop in on Thursday and pick all the materials up. Well…that was the plan at least. Hurricane Matthew decided he didn’t like our perfectly coordinated scheme.

The University of Central Florida in the wake of the devastating hurricane quickly approaching decided to close the campus down Wednesday evening until at the earliest, Saturday. This, of course, meant a few things. One, school activities were basically over until Monday, so there would be no way to pick the tent, tables, chairs, sandbags, posters, banners, or paperwork up from Ms. Campana since Ms. Campana would not be there. Two, it meant that I would not be able to meet with Dr. Beiler on Thursday to go over my midterm with her, essentially meaning I would not be able to submit my midterm. Three, I found myself going from having to worry about preparations for Come Out With Pride to having to worry about one of the worst hurricanes to hit the state in over ten years. And since my parents live on the Space Coast, which is basically the epicenter of the storm, I couldn’t even go home because the bridge to Merritt Island was closed, leaving me basically stuck on campus by myself. And fourthly, several months worth of planning and preparation to get everything ready for Come Out With Pride on Saturday is now essentially up in the air, and nobody really seems to know what’s going on regarding the potential cancellation of the event. I have a hard time believing that they would have a major festival in Orlando the day after a potential category 5 hurricane just swept through the state…I mean, who would honestly go? At this point, I am more concerned for my family and friends.

And they said being an archivist would be all boring and meticulous. Not in Florida. This does make me wonder though what protocols the archives at UCF have regarding hurricanes. Do they do anything special with the boxes? I imagine flooding, as well as major water damage, must be a major concern for them. Perhaps I will find out. Well, I hope everyone who is impacted by the hurricane stays safe! Until next time!

Week Six: It’s All About Next Week

You know those weeks where you just feel completely out of it? Where you go to get into your car only to find you walked all the way to the garage but forgot your car keys in your dorm? Or you’re running on three hours of sleep because for some reason your fire alarm went off at eleven o’clock at night? Or you went to make coffee but forgot you already put water in the machine so instead of coffee you just get a flood on your kitchen floor? This has been one of those weeks for me. Fortunately, however, this did not extend to my internship. In fact, this week was relatively benign in the sense that I didn’t have any weekend meetings to attend, or extracurricular activities to go to. Even my readings were relatively simple, and as far as my work was concerned, straightforward.

On Monday and Wednesday, I spent my internship physically reorganizing the collection to correspond with the written finding aid. This was more labor intensive than anything else since I had already done the hard part in recreating the filing system on an excel spreadsheet. The only difficult part was actually moving the files from box to box. Otherwise, most of it was simply myself adding a few finishing touches to The Center collection. I also spent a good part of Monday afternoon and Wednesday morning renaming each of the file folders to match the naming conventions agreed upon by Dr. Beiler and the previous intern, and this really only applied to the last four boxes. As of this past Wednesday, I feel I can officially say that I am done with this collection, and for the most part I am satisfied with how The Center collection has developed. There are of course a few areas in which I am going back and forth in regards to the files correct placement within the series if that file should go here or there, whether I should rename that folder if that item should be shifted to a different folder…but most of these issues are minor quirks which I will discuss with Dr. Beiler on Monday when we go through the completed collection together.

I am not sure what else to say in regards to the collection itself, other than I hope my contribution to it will be of benefit to the GLBT History Museum and useful to future historians, whether for professional or personal reasons. By next week I should be ready to start on my second collection, which I imagine will present its own unique challenges since unlike this one I will ultimately be the one organizing the objects and deciding the layout of the series. At this point, I honestly feel comfortable enough with the concept of assessing and processing that I am more excited to sink my teeth into the history of Out and About Books than I am worried. I am already aware of a few of the challenges I will likely run into, but I think I’ll save those concerns for another blog update.

The only other major development regarding my internship is in preparation for the Come Out With Pride parade and festival which is scheduled for next weekend…unless it gets rained out. Don’t think I’m not keeping an eye on you, Hurricane Matthew. Today, Dr. Beiler and I met with Kayla Campana to go over an itinerary list of items we will need for the actual day of the festival…namely tables, tablecloths, banners, posters, and clipboards. Again most of this was a simple matter of organizing a checklist, and Ms. Campana had already done an amazing job getting most of the items together for us. Hopefully, by next Thursday everything will be ready for pickup. What we’ll do with the items in-between Thursday afternoon and Saturday morning is another matter entirely. I don’t think the folding tables are going to fit into my dorm very well…well not if I want to stay on good terms with my roommates anyway.  Dr. Beiler also mentioned to me getting a camera for the event, so hopefully I will get better at updating photos onto this blog to accompany my posts. I promise nothing though 😛

I am sorry if this update was a little lackluster, but this week seemed to be more than anything else about preparing for the next one. October is right around the corner, and with it some very exciting events to look forward to.

 

Week Five: Traffic and Muffins

I can’t believe a month has already passed since I first started this internship! I feel once October comes around it will go by even quicker given all of our planned events. This week’s blog is going to be a little all over the place since a great deal of it happened outside of my usual Monday and Wednesday schedule. In fact, I am probably going to skip discussing Monday only because absolutely nothing of interest happened that day other than I continued doing exactly what I had been doing last Wednesday. There isn’t much else to add to that amazing epic.

I’ll begin instead with some important highlights from over the weekend! Saturday the 17th was our Digital and Oral Histories workshop which was held at the Center for Emerging Media. Finding this building probably should have required its own miniature workshop. Half the streets were closed or unmarked and the surrounding area was swarming in construction work. At one point I ended up taking refuge at a nearby tennis club parking lot because I was so turned around by the rerouting. I was later told that some people who were meant to come to the workshop got so lost themselves that they gave up and went home. Admittedly I was somewhat proud of myself for managing to find this place. Even Google map was telling me to drive over a lawn in order to get to the Center’s parking lot.

The workshop itself was engaging and fun. It was catered towards volunteers interested in helping The Center out with its upcoming History Harvest and was essentially an instructional “how to” for people who might be somewhat unfamiliar with what a History Harvest was and how RICHES and The GLBT History Museum conducted one. The workshop itself was divided into two halves, the first which was presented to us by Dr. Connie Lester provided a brief history and synopsis of History Harvest as well as RICHES, and proceeded to explain the actual process of collecting and scanning items/documents/artifacts. Most of this half of the workshop focused heavily on a lot of bureaucratic and legal paperwork, generally in the form of volunteer and item release forms. We also were instructed on what important information we should gather from the donor regarding the object, including everything from the name and address of the donor to when the item was created, where it was originally located, who created it, what was its original form, its size and dimensions, copyright information, and of course, a brief historical narrative.

After this, Dr. Lester let us play around for a little while with the scanners themselves and provided us with little cheat sheets with step by step instructions on how to correctly scan a photo or document. Dr. Beiler and I seemed to have had the worst luck getting our document to scan, and then for some reason each time we opened up the photo on the computer it came up in Photoshop. I blame the mouse, that thing was temperamental 😛

The second half of the workshop focused on oral history, which was endlessly fascinating to learn about and discuss with the other members attending the workshop, especially the part regarding memory and how it functions. This half was presented to us by Dr. Barbara Gannon, who mostly discussed some basic principles on how to conduct a successful oral history interview. Most of it was all about being polite and making sure that you stay quiet so as to not direct the conversation or inundate the interviewee with unintended signs of disinterest, disdain, or outright disrespect. Admittedly, while I find oral history extremely interesting from a historical perspective, I myself would not at all be comfortable conducting one. Honestly, I think I would make an absolutely terrible interviewer because all the things Dr. Gannon told us to avoid, I know I would find myself guilty of committing. I have a very animated face and would never be able to keep it neutral when listening to other people. I blame art school for that. I also tend to nod my head a lot or give way too many physical cues when talking to people, which would not only be distracting to the interviewee but also possibly affect the integrity of their own account. And quite honestly I am just not good at dealing with people in extremely emotional and volatile situations. This is one of the major reasons that I, unlike my mother and sisters, did not become a nurse. If someone I was interviewing suddenly broke down into tears I would almost certainly go deer in the headlights. I am hoping that I’ll just be the girl scanning the photos in the background for History Harvest.

But I did get a free chocolate chip muffin out of going, so that sounds like a good day to me!

SUNDAY was my second board meeting with the GLBT History Museum at The Center. The meeting itself was relatively quick, as it was mostly just following up on the information stated at our previous meeting at the end of August. Almost everybody abstained from speaking for the most part. The only real news worth relating was the President David Bain received instructions from the runners of the Come Out with Pride festival which highlighted the dos and do nots of those participating or renting out space at the event. The document had a lot of bemusing rules in them. My favorite was the one asking people not to steal the shrubbery at Lake Eola. Apparently, this was a big enough problem that they had to explicitly state it within the rules. They also had a lot of other rules which I think affected us more directly, namely, it forbade people from crowd running and handing flyers out to passerbys. To be fair I understand why they don’t want us doing this. The rules stated they were concerned about littering, but I also can imagine given that there are hundreds of booths running simultaneously at this event people are not going to want to be inundated with brochures and pamphlets and papers to the point that they’ll be walking around with a stack full of events and presentations and exhibits they weren’t interested in seeing, to begin with.

However, I suppose this does make our job a little easier since we won’t need volunteers to advertise our events to the crowd anymore.

 

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Advertisement for our exhibit at the Orange County Regional History Center

 

WEDNESDAY was back to the archives for me! I had a phone conference with Dr. Beiler where we reviewed the layout for my new order for the last two boxes, and she gave me the green light to start physically moving the papers around. I did have to create a final finding aid that placed all the different twelve series in their correct order, but now that that is all done with I will start the physical reorganization of the collection on Monday and hopefully have The Center collection completed by Wednesday!

I am hoping that in a week I will finally be able to start the processing of my own collection, one for which I am very excited about delving into. Without giving too much information away my collection is related to man by the name of Bruce Ground. He owned a bookstore in Orlando called “Out and About Books”, which focused on literature and other cultural merchandise relating to the LGBT community. One of his advertisements which I stumbled across in The Triangle read: “Speaking from another perspective: books and magazines celebrating gay and lesbian culture and addressing contemporary issues.”

Out and About Books.jpg