This spring I was an intern at the Ernst Mayr Library and Museum of Comparative Zoology Archives of Harvard University. I worked with Robert Young, the Special Collections Librarian/archivist. My project taught me how to compose a finding aid from scratch, while bringing together information about multiple collections. In the case of the Hubert Lyman Clark papers, for which I created the finding aid, there were multiple relevant collections accessioned at different times that needed to be synthesized into one document to successfully connect a researcher with all available information on Clark.
To format this finding aid without a template, I referred to existing Harvard libraries’ finding aids, through the online catalog Hollis, and I modified my draft according to the helpful feedback that I received. I provided item level description of relevant materials, which took most of my time. In going through the documents for descriptions, I also rehoused and reorganized any materials that had not been yet been processed. In building the finding aid, I grew more comfortable with the process of arranging materials into series. I also learned the best practices for notation and description. The finding aid will be online in sometime this summer. Meanwhile, records are available in Harvard's online catalog.
This project required much attention to detail, since the level of description was higher than what I’ve experienced in past projects. One advantage of this thoroughness was that I really got to know the material, which was fascinating given the exciting life and travels of the zoologist, curator, and professor Hubert Lyman Clark. This internship had value in my professional life in that it helped me learn notation and description standards, and how to create and organize a finding aid from scratch. It also gave me the opportunity to get to know other archivists and librarians in the field. As well as developing the finding aid, I had a chance to hear some great stories about the archives’ unique history and view some unique items from Special Collections Assistant, Dana Fisher. The internship increased my confidence in organizing and describing archival materials. One other great aspect of the internship, and something I value about the field of archives in general, is that working with the Hubert Lyman Clark papers gave me exposure to a fascinating personal history, as well as to a scientific field I previously knew little about. I’m grateful to have had this opportunity!
-- Guest Post by Natalia Gutiérrez-Jones