August 2013 Archives

An Internship of Discovery with Arthur Kleiner

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Arthur Kleiner photograph.jpgBy Heidi Anderson-Ferdinand, Intern in Special Collections and Rare Books

Working as an intern in Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts I get the unalloyed pleasure of opening box after box, folder after folder, and working my way through the contents. You might think that when you read through material in an archive you are walking among ghosts, but I find that I feel like the ghost, watching from behind the curtain as the players move across the stage. I listen in to conversations written across a page, look into the faces and places in photographs that held meaning for the subject of the archive, read newspaper articles that refer to performances or awards. It is an autobiography in raw material and can feel surprisingly intimate.

Anna Pavlova photograph.jpgThroughout the spring I worked on the Arthur Kleiner collection. Each day would bring a new discovery; correspondence between Mr. Kleiner and composers and film historians from around the world, photographs and postcards, reading room tickets from London, pages of research material for a book on music composed for films. There were many surprises waiting in the wings, like the day I opened a folder and found a stack of glossy photographs ... Anna Pavlova! Nijinski! Especially interesting were the letters to Arthur Kleiner from film historian/film maker Jay Leyden. Together these two gentlemen tracked down leads in a search for the missing (complete) version of Miesel's film score for Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin. Any student of early cinema would be interested in reading this collection of letters.


Training Student Staff in the Future

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By: Mary Blissenbach, Archives and Special Collections staff

Handwriting.JPGWhat will training student staff be like in the future? This fall it has been announced that many schools will no longer teach cursive handwriting in schools and instead focus on computer skills, typing, etc. Our current batch of student staff assist with projects such as looking over documents for key items/names, entering data into a spreadsheet that may currently be handwritten, organizing documents in folders and writing on the folder what it contains or giving it a name, such as "Correspondence From John Doe".

Currently a star student, Matt, is working on a project of entering a list of handwritten data into a spreadsheet to then be posted on-line as a finding aid to help researchers find items in the collection to use. He is doing a great job, but told us the other day that he needed a break from reading all the cursive handwriting. I asked him what some of his thoughts are on working on a project like this and he has found some tips and tricks along the way to help. He had to spend a little time remembering what some of the cursive letters are to help him read what is on the page. He also noticed that each page seems to be written by a different person and each person has a different writing style. He has to take some time adjusting to how each person writes.

Jewish Settlers on the Plains

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By Kate Dietrick, Curator, Berman Upper Midwest Jewish Archives

mhs06483.jpgWhen one imagines early Jewish immigrants coming to America, the image that pops to mind is rarely that of the Jewish cowboy or homesteaders on the prairies of the Midwest. And yet a number of Jewish Americans made their homes on the plains of North Dakota, as documented in the Jewish Historical Project of North Dakota Records, a collection which is now available to researchers in the Nathan and Theresa Berman Upper Midwest Jewish Archives.

The Jewish Historical Project of North Dakota was a venture headed by Toba Geller, working alongside Ruth Landfield and Lorraine Kasden, in attempts to document the history of early Jewish immigrants to North Dakota. The collection includes a vast amount of correspondence, as Geller wrote to Jewish families asking them to tell their stories of growing up on settlements throughout the state. The goal of publishing a book of their research was never realized, however, as Geller passed away in 1978. The collection later found its home in the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives.

Much of the correspondence illuminates how hard homesteading was at the time. In a letter from Al Sher in 1976, he reminisced about growing up in North Dakota:

RBMS Web banner.jpgby R. Arvid Nelsen, Archivist, Charles Babbage Institute and Dr. Marguerite Ragnow, Curator, James Ford Bell Library. Arvid and Marguerite served as the 2103 RBMS Preconference Local Arrangements Co-Chairs.

Nearly 400 professionals in rare books, manuscripts, archives, and special collections descended on Minneapolis in June for the annual conference of the Rare Book and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL).. Local arrangements were made by U of M Libraries co-chairs Arvid Nelsen and Marguerite Ragnow, with a host of U of M and other local volunteers (see below). Many of the conference attendees had never been to the Twin Cities. While we know and love the amazing resources that our region has to offer, this is a fact that may often be unknown to our friends and colleagues from other parts of the country. Based on the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response from attendees, we believe we accomplished our goal of raising awareness of all that we have to offer here. And we anticipate seeing some of our guests again!

RBMS Tote Bag Stuffing Party.JPGThis was the 54th annual "preconference" of RBMS, which every year gathers prior to the meeting of the American Library Association (of which ACRL is a division) for about three days' worth of informative and professional development programming, networking opportunities, and optional workshops and tours.

The Preconference visits a different city each year. The last time the Preconference was held in the Twin Cities was in 1990, when U of M librarians Martha L. Brogan and Alan Lathrop spearheaded local arrangements. A complete history of the Preconference through its first fifty years (published by ACRL for the 50th anniversary in 2009) can be found on the RBMS website.

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