It has been a whirlwind three months so far at the Harry
Ransom Center, located at the University of Texas at Austin (UT), where I am an
intern in the paper conservation lab. With 36 million manuscripts, 1 million
rare books, 5 million photographs, and more than 100,000 works of art there is no
shortage of work to do! The Ransom Center has rotating exhibits as well as
viewing and reading rooms for the public and for classes to research and see
items of interest. I love working with such a large and varied collection and treating
works on paper for exhibition as well as for research and study. It has been
exciting to work on the UT campus because of all of the resources available at
the other libraries, the many lectures and workshops that are offered, and the
collegiate and collegial atmosphere. On top of all of this, it has been so fun
to explore the campus from where my father, aunt, and grandparents graduated.
The Ransom Center collects materials that document the
creative processes of groups, organizations, or individuals who work in
literature, the arts, and the humanities. The Center acts as a steward for these
records and fosters the understanding and interpretation of collections. So
far, I have been able to work on items from the Circus Collection, P.E.N.
Archive, Minstrel Show Collection, Arthur Miller Archive, Playbills and
Programs Collection, and the Aldine Press Books. I have completed examinations,
surveys, rehousing projects, condition reports, and treatments, and attended
meetings with curators, archivists, and the digitization team. Working with my
conservation colleagues and with other departments has been an enriching
experience, and I am grateful to learn from experts in these allied fields.
Right now, I am working on the treatment of a set model from a
1964 production of “Incident at Vichy.” Arthur Miller wrote this play, and
Boris Aronson was the set designer for the production. The set model is a great
example of the types of things found in archives that aren’t necessarily what a
paper conservator would see every day in another type of institution but may
come across in such varied archival collections as these.