Meet Baylor seniors and archives student workers Petra Ibarra-Nagel and Priscilla Escobedo, in our latest staff post giving you a peek into the day-to-day work of The Texas Collection:
My name is Petra Ibarra-Nagel and I am a senior international studies major from Bellingham, Washington. I have worked as a manuscript archives student worker since April 2011, and I also worked in the TC library this summer. I help with processing collections by making sure that materials are physically preserved to withstand deterioration over time and organizing those materials in a way that best assists researchers in their quest for knowledge.
I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with a variety of archival materials at The Texas Collection, ranging from 19th-century pocket-sized family portraits to correspondence containing signatures of former presidents of the United States. It’s always fun to see what new materials come in—you never know what will be important elements of a historical narrative!
My favorite collection to work on is the one that I was originally hired to assist in processing, the Pat Neff collection. Working with Pat Neff taught me a lot about the importance of preservation and organization of materials but also about integrity and teamwork. You may recognize the name Pat Neff from our campus’ beautiful golden dome-adorned administration building; however the legacy of Pat Neff extends far past his Baylor career. The former Texas House of Representatives speaker, county attorney for McLennan County, Governor of Texas, Texas Railroad Commissioner, and President of Baylor University rarely took a moment to himself.
That being said, it is understandable how there were approximately 643 boxes of Pat Neff material to process. Communication between everyone involved in processing is crucial to preserving the historical value of materials and integrity of the collection as a whole, especially when the collection contains so much material. If the materials are not processed the same way throughout the collection, locating individual items for researchers would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack…and then, without proper preservation methods, accidentally shattering the needle when you find it. In this way, The Texas Collection makes it easy to learn more about your passions throughout Texas history.
My name is Priscilla Escobedo, and I am a senior international studies major from Irving, Texas. I have been a university archives student worker at The Texas Collection for a little more than a year. I also worked in the TC library this summer.
The Texas Collection is located in Carroll Library, one of the oldest buildings on campus. It was once home to the Baylor Chapel, Baylor Museum, the early Robert Browning collection, and Baylor’s main library. I know all of this because of my work here! Some of my duties include research, our backlog sorting project, pulling books and collections for researchers, and various other archives duties.
The backlog sorting project never ends. The university archives receives a box every month of newsletters, programs, flyers, and more, that get printed for the university…and these piled up over time. As a result, in addition to the new incoming boxes, we have many older boxes of miscellaneous materials that need to be sorted by department, organization, etc., so that those items can be found. The older boxes can be very interesting—I’ve found documents from the 1920s sitting next to documents from the 1980s. Needless to say, I’ve read a lot on Baylor’s history and have learned so much about life at Baylor.
My main project is the Baylor Book of Lists, a project that will list out who worked at Baylor since its inception. Right now I have over 60 pages of the names of people who worked and taught at Baylor and Baylor medical school, and the classes they taught. Some courses, such as orthography and ancient geography, are no longer taught at Baylor (although the subjects might be incorporated in other classes), and it’s interesting to see how education has changed over time.
Working at the Texas Collection has taught me so much about what it’s like working in an archives and library and about the history of Texas and Baylor.
The Texas Collection turns 90 this year! But even though we’ve been at Baylor for so long, we realize people aren’t quite sure what goes on in a special collections library and archives. So over the course of 2013, we are featuring staff posts about our work at The Texas Collection. See other posts in the series here.