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The Importance of Serendipity

By Kris Kiesling, Director of Archives and Special Collections

You never know when your day-to-day work is going to have some kind of unanticipated impact. As you'll see from Rebecca Wilson's posting on her Exploring Minnesota's Natural History project blog (a project to digitize all of the natural history materials in the University Archives funded by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund), the lantern slides from the Minnesota Seaside Station have been discovered by the Pacheedaht Heritage Project.

One of the best parts of our jobs as archivists is that we never know how our materials are going to be useful or used. Ned Huff was at the Seaside Station to study the botany of the area, not to document the indigenous peoples. But as it turns out, that documentation is now enormously important, perhaps even more important than his primary purpose for being in British Columbia. Serendipity? You bet! How fortunate that the University of Minnesota established the Seaside Station so researchers could work there. How fortunate that Ned Huff was there with his camera and took an interest in things not botanical. And how fortunate we now have the technology to share these slides, which have been part of our collections for decades, with the world.

And, if you're not already following Rebecca's blog, I highly recommend it!


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