A New Semester in the Archives

Welcome back to my blog! It’s been a while since my last update, but I promise there’s a good reason for that. In March, my entire world was turned upside down. In a matter of days, I had to pack up my belongings to leave campus and move back to my parents’ house due to COVID. Of course, that also meant that I had to leave the Concordia College Archives for the semester. Last spring threw many difficulties at me: transitioning to online classes, being away from friends, and relearning how to coexist with my family members for the longest stretch of time since I moved out after high school. It also meant being unable to finish a couple of projects that I was deeply invested in at the archives.  

But after nearly 6 months away, I did get to move back to campus this fall! Things look a little different—masking and social distancing are a must—but I’m so happy to be back to classes and work. It’s been a couple weeks of working in the archives again, so I thought I’d give a little update about progress I’ve made on my ongoing projects.

First, I’m nearing the end of a years-long project for me! When I started in the archives in the fall of 2018, my big project was to enter all of the artifact collection into our CuadraStar database. We had internal records and spreadsheets of the artifact collection, but it was not searchable to the public yet. My job was to create CuadraStar records for each individual artifact and catalog them in their appropriate subcollections. With thousands of artifacts to be unpacked and described, I knew this project would take a long time. However, it’s also not the sort of project that can be done every single shift. In any archival task, it’s necessary to switch it up occasionally to avoid monotony (and sometimes insanity). I’ve interspersed my artifact project with several other smaller ones through the semesters, including a newspaper scanning project and sorting documents for biography files. This spring, however, I was finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I would’ve been able to finish entering the artifacts into CuadraStar last spring if we hadn’t had to leave campus!

That’s part of why it feels so good to finally be back to working in the archives this fall. I’m down to fewer than 100 artifacts and hoping to finish within the next week. I’m going to miss seeing all the interesting and unexpected objects we have in our collection. Some, like the box of whale figurines, surprised and delighted me the more I dug into them. Others, like the Ruth Erickson doll collection or the bloodletting kit, were less appealing. But it was amazing to hold each object in my hand and think about its story as I cataloged it. I’m going to miss working with the artifacts every day, but I’ll be even more glad to finally be able to check this major project off our list. Who knows what I’ll get into next?

Stay tuned to hear more about what I’m up to in the Concordia College Archives, in my classes, and in my life as a student archivist.

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