Mining the collections

Guest blogger: Megan

We’ve recently embarked on two projects here at Archives and Special Collections that I’m pretty excited about.

The first is to tackle our backlog.  First of all, let me say that I have never worked at a place that has a smaller backlog! This is largely due to a really great staff (Mariecris and Arlene included) that has, over the years, made sure that we stayed relatively on top of processing our new accessions and additions.  Nevertheless, we still have about a year and a half of work (or more) to get through the remainder – which contains some pretty daunting collections, subject- and size-wise – provided that each of us processes at a rate of about one collection every two weeks.  That sounds like a lot, but we are keeping, where possible, to minimal processing standards, working as quickly as we can to get as much as we can online and described at least at a basic level. I, for one, am happy as a clam to get my fingers back in our collections.  There’s nothing quite as satisfying as cleaning up a good and messy collection!

The second project is one that Arlene wrote about last week: updating and adding to our LibGuides, otherwise known as Research Guides.  If she ended that post rather pessimistically, [editor's note: that was pessimistic?] there’s no need for pessimism now: as of today, we now have seven Research Guides online.  New additions include:

My own work on both projects dovetailed this past week when I finished processing the Stoll family papers at the same time as I revised the Research Guide on miners and mining.  The Stoll family was involved for years with Alaska Pacific Consolidated Mining Company, the outfit that ran Independence Mine on Hatcher Pass until the late 1970s.  Independence Mine, out of operation for over 30 years, is now a favorite weekend destination as one of southcentral Alaska’s best historical sites.  My favorite things from this collection are the photographs of the mine buildings, operations, and personnel, not to mention the six-foot maps of the tunnels that Mariecris and I had to unroll very carefully on the floor since they were far too big for our tables.

At the same time, Mariecris also finished another major collection that is highlighted in our Research Guide on Alaska legislators: the Arliss Sturgulewski papers.  I’ll let her share the treasures of that collection, but in the meantime, stayed tuned for more Research Guides!