Shutterbugs

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It's so nice to see everything all neat and ordered like this, isn't it? Too bad that was the easy part, this collection has a lot of oversized maps and a multitude of photos, slides, negatives, index cards, and audio tapes. I'm not complaining though, the IAC was host to amazing artifacts and projects, and not just from the Nag Hammadi dig:

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Most of last week was spent going through the photos - since we're going to have to sleeve them we need to break the folders apart into small chunks. Fortunately the IAC photos are pretty organized already and it hasn't been hard to group them up. Besides documenting the museum's holdings, the IAC photos cover special events, guest visits, and the staff through the years. The expedition to Nag Hammadi is of course a large part of the collection, but the IAC was host to many interesting people and artifacts.

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This week I'll be finishing up a new crate of photos, getting all the newspaper clippings quarantined, and getting to work on the maps and blueprints. Stay tuned for Series 2, the records from the archeological expeditions to Nag Hammadi.

Sara

 

Rainy Day Files

Hello Again!

Well, another week has passed and I am still in disbelief of how quickly the days go by. This week is starting off with rain trickling down the windows of the library but I am looking through the window of history today! (Please excuse the cheesy cliché) As promised, I have a couple of interesting snapshots of the hundreds of pictures I have been combing through. Most recently I have been reorganizing the series on the Nag Hammadi dig and the surrounding work involved in such a monumentally historic project. This had included everything from field logs of the dig sites, pictures of the surrounding towns and landscape, and a plethora of amazing records documenting the whole process.

Going through this series in the IAC Nag Hammadi Collection has afforded me the opportunity to see a different time and place through the eyes of both the locals and scholars involved with the excavation and scholarly analysis.

One of the amazing photos included in the series are of the discoverer of the codices, Muhammad Ali and his mother. 

Ali standing next to his mother (dressed in black). 

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The mother of Ali had actually burned one of the codex books upon their initial discovery. Unfortunately, there was no other information on the reasons for his mother burning one of the books but one can just imagine what was going through the minds of the IAC scholars upon hearing this story!


And as I mentioned in one of my previous posts I am including just one picture of Henry Kissinger from his tour of the Nag Hammadi Codices. He is intently studying pages of ancient texts while members of the project explain what is written and the significance to ancient Christianity.


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There are pieces of history hidden all around us and it is up to us, historians and others alike, to document that history so others have the opportunity to look through the window of the past. 

Further Adventures in Archiving

            I finally finished flagging and organizing Ethel's diaries! Final tally is 149 volumes (!), including 4 ledgers. See the picture below for the finished product. I'm still impressed by how consistently Ethel wrote in them.

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            Once I finished up with the diaries, I started on an oversized box with mostly family school documents. Some are certificates of attendance and merit, and some look like proto-report cards. These are from Lizzie and Minnie Reed when they lived in New York. The box also contains Nancy's junior high and high school diplomas (from Claremont Junior High and Claremont High), as well as her diploma from Pomona College (class of '44). See the photo below for a vintage Pomona B.A. There might be some reorganization of the materials in this box, since there are some documents that are pretty small and really don't need to be in such a large box.

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            I've also started on Nancy's scrapbook. The pages are currently in Manila envelopes and I'm in the process of transferring all of them to Mylar sleeves. There are pictures of Nancy and Ethel, their home in Claremont, and lots of pictures of cats.  Below are pictures of Nancy and Ethel. It's nice to have faces for the names, as I'm going through their stuff! What I think is most interesting about the photos is that they are recognizably photos of Claremont... the exteriors of the houses haven't changed all that much in the past 60 years!

Nancy (below):

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And Ethel:

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Next week's post will feature the cat photos. Get ready... 

The IAC Files

So we are still moving along with the IAC and Nag Hammadi expedition files - this past week we've really made progress with the administrative stuff and are finding some really cool stuff in the collection. Jason found a picture of Henry Kissinger picking his nose in the file about his visit to the IAC, and while I didn't find anything quite so tabloid-ready there have been some very interesting finds!

The IAC has extensive photographs from over the years, among these are photos of the various artifacts that came to their museum. There are many examples of antiquarian coinage that makes you want to jazz up U.S. currency some. More snarling lions, mermaids and owls! It looks like we'll be spending a lot of time with these photographs, putting them in sleeves and getting them organized. We've also got maps to measure and newspapers, slides, and audio lectures to itemized, so plenty left to go. Next week I'll have some photos up of those coins and anything else I find, maybe I'll come across my nose-pickin' Kissinger.

 

Sara

Ethel's Diaries, Continued!

    This week, I continued flagging all of Ethel's diaries. Each diary has a flag now, but some still need to be turned sideways, and one box still needs volume numbers. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any of the missing diaries, so there are a few gaps of a few months each in what is otherwise an impeccable record. Ethel wrote almost daily entries for decades.
    The fourth box of diaries was only about one-third full, and I could already see that the diaries were beginning to slump. They have now been moved into a (temporary) new home, pictured below, where they fit much better.

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    Ethel also had a few ledgers, in which she recorded daily expenses and occasionally her income. There are only three or four ledgers, and they are not as consistent as her diary entries. One of the ledgers is pictured below. Her ledgers could be useful for someone who wanted to study what people bought in the mid-twentieth century or the prices of such things.

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    Next week, I'll finish up the diaries and start on some family documents and Ethel's scrapbooks.



Diving into Ethel's Diaries

This week, I spent time flagging Ethel's many diaries. Each diary needs a flag that has the volume number and the date range. There are about 130 of them total, I think. They start in 1893, are written somewhat sporadically until 1907, then very consistently from 1907 until 1968.

I've probably flagged about 90 out of the 130, so this task is to be continued next week. You can see my progress in the photos below. I still need to turn all the flags sideways, since having them stick up means the shoebox top doesn't close all the way. It was convenient to be able to see the previous flag as I was going through this process, though. I also need to fill in the volume numbers in the first box, as I was hoping some of the missing diaries would turn up (there are a few obvious breaks in the chronology where one diary should be), but no such luck so far.

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Trying to read Ethel's handwriting (see photo below) has been a bit of an adventure, even when all I need to find is the date. However, due to Ethel's diligence in keeping her diaries, I was able to look at the first entry of the next diary in order to find what the last date in the previous diary should be, which made it a bit easier.

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She was religious about recording the weather; that's how she starts each entry. She then writes about what she did that day, which often includes visiting friends and reading. Sometimes there is a list of purchases on the last few pages of a diary.

Below is a sampling of some of the notebooks she used. They are all different shapes and sizes and styles, but she only ever used a pencil to write.

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Until next week!

Time Flies By

Something that we tend to forget about time is that it can slip right by you when not paying attention. Paying attention to time is all I have been doing while processing the IAC Nag Hammadi collection. But not in the same way that people do while sitting in a classroom or at work. I have been paying close attention to the time that has been captured inside of these files and boxes. 

This past week I have been processing the IAC's museum records. The files contained item lists for all things that were once displayed, including the famous Dead Sea Scrolls. It was a featured exhibit here on the Claremont Colleges campus on June 12, 1965. The tremendous amount of work that went into making the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibits a possibility for the public to see. This included the shipment of materials to Claremont and the delicate process of unpacking priceless materials and to present them in a non-objective manner. The entire exhibit was considered an incredible success with over 1,700 people visiting on the first day alone and a total of 51,852 persons for the whole time. A memo was drafted that gave an amazingly detailed report of everything that went on; including the very few complaints and numerous praises from museum goers, a trip to Disneyland for the Curator of the Palestine Archaeological Museum, and praise for the LA County Sheriffs who were able to handle the large crowds in the summer heat with a smile. 

Another interesting find within the Museum records was a piece of cloth. Now this is no ordinary piece of cloth that we would wear. It was a piece of cloth that wrapped the Nag Hammadi codices, meaning it is nearly two thousand years old. The small piece (now pieces) was placed in an Egyptian newspaper with Arabic writing on it. Now there is quite a bit of cloth dust as much of it has disintegrated due to the long passage of time that the lack of preservation efforts. My part is to now find what to do with this random material from a time I have only read about in books. I am excited to see where this all goes!

Thanks for reading!

Jason 

First Insight

My first week as a CCEPS fellow has ended as quickly as my second week begins and what a week it has been so far! The enthusiasm I have for this work is a benchmark by how I will be continuing through the weeks until my time here is up. What I have learned so far and what I still have to learn excite me beyond the words necessary to write a short blog. Lessons learned in my Archives 310 class last year are now being applied, tested, and refined through the incredible opportunity of processing a collection first hand. This collection in particular, the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity Records, have been fascinating so far, especially the level of details and records that came with the Nag Hammadi collection. It is an amazing collection of correspondence, pictures, maps, and lectures that all describe in remarkable detail the efforts of many to make these ancient texts come to life for dignitaries and normal people alike to enjoy. In one of the dozens of picture folders that I went through, I found an impressive set of photographs showing the visit of one dignitary to the small world of Claremont. That individual was Henry Kissinger, captured in a candid moment that made it seem as though he were picking his nose. This contrast of this imposing world figure and the candid nature of a man looking at a museum exhibit is exactly what makes me extremely happy and thankful to be a CCEPS fellow and for the ability to find the extraordinary hidden in the files of archival collections.

 

My First CCEPS Blog Post!

Hello there! I'm Tamara Savage, a senior at Harvey Mudd and a CCEPS Fellow. I'm double majoring in engineering and literature, and I'm excited for the opportunities this fellowship will offer me to exercise my more bookish muscles. I'm a total newbie--I spend a lot of time at the library and I've been to Special Collections before, but I've never done any archival work. So I have a lot to learn, and I'm looking forward to it!

I'm processing the library's Ethel M. Reed papers, a collection of materials from a local Claremont woman, Ethel M. Reed, and her daughter, Nancy Reed. From my preliminary survey, their family documents stretch as far back as a property deed from 1811 and contain material from as recently as the 1970s. A large portion of Ethel's writing is in the form of diaries--boxes and boxes of them, and she wrote in them remarkably consistently.

There are also letters, postcards, school materials, artwork, and scrapbook pages. While I haven't looked at everything very closely yet, there are a lot of pictures of cats in the scrapbooks (look out for a future blog post all about this--I love cats).

As exciting as cat pictures are, what I'm looking forward to the most is perusing Ethel's unpublished manuscript, A California Childhood. It's her account of her childhood spent here in Claremont and environs, and I think it contains a look into what she did, the people she knew, and the city of Claremont itself.

After completing my preliminary survey, I'm now ready to start actually processing the collection. I think I'm going to start with the diaries first. They need to be flagged with acid-free paper (always acid-free!) with a volume number and a date range (which Ethel kept very carefully, so no worries there). I'm looking forward to it!

The Final Weeks

Hi Everyone!

It is the beginning of the end. I am just finishing up my time as a CCEPS Fellow. So far, I have had a fantastic time learning about archival work. I have worked on 7 different collections, each with a variety of materials. I have learned many ways to preserve items and use the most out of the resources at hand. Most importantly, I've had a great time working here. Before I depart at the end of the semester, I wanted to share a little bit about what I learned when arranging a collection.

1) Keep in mind the researcher. The researcher will be using these collections, so arrange it in such a way that it presents the important information upfront.

2) Keep it simple. Again, researchers will be using the collection. Make it easy to follow and arrange it in a way that is logical.

3) Try to conserve your resources. If two photographs can fit in one sleeve of mylar comfortably, just cut the mylar in half! But don't cut the photographs...

4) Pay attention to the details. There are A LOT of little details, but if you are consistently double checking your work, it'll save quite a bit of time in the future.

5) Learn about the materials. The collections are all very interesting! When arranging collections, it becomes so much more interesting if you know more about it. There is so much information to learn!

6) Take care of yourself! Make sure you either eat before or plan a lunch break because you're not allowed to bring food into the archives. The food may ruin documents. In addition, bring a sweater just in case! The archives are kept a little bit cooler to help preserve materials.

7) It may sound cheesy, but have fun! This is a great learning experience and opportunity!

I am so grateful for being a part of the CCEPS program. I have been able to learn so much in such a short period of time. I have never had the opportunity to work this closely with so many primary sources. It truly is a fantastic opportunity and I would recommend it to anyone!

Phoebe