Congratulations to our Graduating Student Aides!

It’s been a bittersweet week in Special Collections & University Archives as we bid farewell and good luck to our two student aides, Jamie Van Doren and Kathleen Martin, both graduating this semester! Jamie and Kathleen have worked with us over the past year and made so many of our projects successful. Their work included curating two exhibits in Special Collections, assisting researchers in the reading room, processing and captioning oral histories, fulfilling digitization requests, creating metadata for digital collections, researching and developing technical workflows, and so much more! Before their last day with the department, they answered a few questions about their time here and their thoughts on the future of archives. Check out their answers below! (Spoiler Alert: Dr. Ferrell’s classes frequently lead to employment in our department!)

  • What brought you to work in Special Collections & University Archives?
    • JVD: I decided I wanted to work in Special Collections & University Archives when I found out about it through Dr. Ferrell’s 298 class. I was really fascinated by getting to see the rare books and the Digital Archiving Lab.
    • KM: Spring of 2022, I was taking History 297 (now 299, as it was the transitional semester) with Dr. Ferrell, and we came into Special Collections and the Digital Archiving Lab to get introduced to our Omeka project. I didn’t know they had existed prior to that day and I was enchanted the moment I walked in. When it was mentioned that the Archives was hiring for a student aide for the following semester, I knew I wanted to do that; at the end of that class session, I asked for a job.
  • What was your favorite project that you worked on during your time as a Special Collections & University Archives Student Aide?
    • JVD: It’s hard to pick a favorite project, but if I had to choose I think I would go with the Black Alumni Oral History project. The content was obviously fascinating, and I also feel like I learned practical/useful skills with that one (the captioning process, how to use Premier Pro and Media Encoder).
    • KM: While it was tedious work, I thoroughly enjoyed doing captioning for the oral history projects. I enjoy problem-solving and feeling useful, and revamping the workflow for that project made me feel both of those things. Of course, I’ve enjoyed much of what I’ve done here, but that one gives me a real feeling of accomplishment.
  • What is your favorite item (or collection of items) in UMW Archives and why?
    • JVD: My favorite collection of items in UMW Archives is the yearbook collection. One of my favorite things to do is flip through a random yearbook and look at pictures of places that I recognize (or don’t recognize). I think they give such a rich perspective on what UMW was like in different time periods, and I enjoy them a lot.
    • KM: I have a soft spot for the student handbooks. I found them while doing research for a patron and enjoyed them so much that I did my senior thesis with them as my primary source. I think they give a really interesting look at the structure of student life, which is a topic that fascinates me endlessly.
  • What is your favorite book from the rare book collection and why?
    • JVD: My favorite book is Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. The book itself has such a fun story. I think it’s an awesome addition to the collection, a beautiful book, and an interesting one with the writing in the margins and the insides of the front and back covers.
    • KM: I enjoy the James Joyce Ulysses collection we have, both because I enjoy Joyce’s work (though I’m mostly familiar with Dubliners) and also because I am entertained by the fascination that previous archivists clearly had with Joyce. The collection takes up several shelves, all filled with various editions of the same book, and that entertains me to no end.
  • What are your post-Mary Washington plans?
    • JVD: My post-Mary Washington plans are to start my job as Senior Library Assistant in Access Services at George Washington University’s Gelman Library. I will also be pursuing a Master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences from University of Washington through their online program.
    • KM: I just interviewed for a museum position in Maryland, so fingers crossed, but if that doesn’t work out, I’m keeping my eyes open. I’m a very opportunity-driven person (see above, when I applied for this job because the opportunity jumped out in front of me) so I don’t have any specific plan I’m trying to follow. That being said, I enjoy working in both Museums and Libraries, and I think I would like to continue working in one or the other. That might eventually force my hand to grad school, but I’m going to see what I can do with my Bachelor’s first.
  • What kinds of archival resources do you think researchers will use in the future when looking back at what Mary Washington was like in 2023?
    • JVD: I think the school newspaper will be incredibly useful, as well as social media accounts for the school and it’s programs—SAE, CPB, sports teams and clubs, etc.. Those will say a lot about what day-to-day life was like for UMW students. If there’s a way to archive the social media posts of campus organizations, I think that information would be very useful for people to have.
    • KM: I think digital-born archives will be heavily utilized, such as course catalogs, student handbooks, and archived emails, but I also think that things like archived websites and student blogs could come in handy as well. In my opinion, physical archives will never become obsolete, and things like scrapbooks and journals will always be useful and interesting.
  • Do you have any favorite Mary Washington memories?
    • JVD: I have lots of favorite Mary Washington memories! In SCUA, I think one of my favorite days was the big reunion we had over the summer in 2022. I had a ton of fun showing people their yearbooks and the interesting items we have in the Rare Book Room and stuff like that. I don’t think I was necessarily having fun at the time, but I also love looking back on climbing the stairs up from Russell to go up to campus. The tree with a bunch of shoes on it is one of my favorite things, plus the view as you make it up the hill and can see the Bell Tower and stuff like that.
    • KM: I have enjoyed my classes here and I have enjoyed the people I met here. As I am a “non-traditional student” (which I think is a silly label) I have looked at Mary Washington as just another job. I don’t live on campus and I haven’t done many student activities or events. Still, getting to form a friend group who have similar interests and values to me has been a dream, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to do so.

Special Collections & University Archives is so appreciative of all the excellent work Jamie and Kathleen accomplished this year, and we can’t wait to see what they do next!

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