REPS TourFest

REPS held its second TourFest on July 9.

Boston Tour

By: Chris Tanguay

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Boston Athenæum

The first stop on the Boston tour was the Boston Athenæum, an independent member library located at 10 1/2 Beacon Street. The tour was lead by Carolle Morini, Caroline D. Bain Archivist and Reference Librarian. The tour primarily comprised the public spaces of the library. The space was absolutely stunning. Lots of tranquil spots to stop and study. The top floor included an outdoor deck that afforded a beautiful view of downtown. As we traveled through the stacks, Carolle described fireproofing  methods that were instituted in the library’s  current building, including metal shelving and glass floors. Though closed, we were given a peek into the special collections reading room.

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Also of interest was the Cutter System utilized by the library. While the system was created at the Athenæum, it uses a different version than the one sold and marketed by Cutter. One complication of the system was the use of symbols – while many catalog records were outsourced and made accessible online, items cataloged with symbols have to be searched for separately. In addition to Cutter, the library also uses Library of Congress classification to catalog their materials.

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One of the most interesting things about the tour for me was learning about the institute records of the library. Carolle described the correspondence between the library and book sellers in England during World War II. The correspondence details business transactions occurring during the London Blitz. She also described a scrapbook kept by library staff documenting a child from France that they had “adopted” during World War I.

Massachusetts Historical Society

IMG_40031
In the stacks.

The second half of the Boston Tour was a look inside the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS). Our guide was Dan Hinchen, Assistant Reference Librarian. Our tour began with an overview of the institution and a look at their online systems for searching and requesting materials. Next, we saw the area where new researchers receive their orientation and described their photo badge system for guests. We then proceeded to the reading room, where we got a look inside and learned about their security measures for researchers in the reading room. One such measure is photocopying researcher notes on blue paper so it is easily distinguishable.

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Exploring the Dowse Library.

Next up, we got a peek at the MHS stacks where we learned about their retrieval methods for tracking on-site boxes and materials. For their most valuable materials, each item used is logged and researchers are only allowed to use one item at a time. Dan also discussed off-site storage of materials, administered by Harvard Depository. (For an interesting behind the scenes look at Harvard Depository, see Cold Storage.)

After the stacks, we explored the Dowse Library (featured above). All the materials in this area were given by one donor, on the condition that they be kept together. Our last stop was a brief look at the current exhibit. Particularly interesting was the Touch Art Gallery (TAG) which allowed visitors to explore digital collections via a touch screen interface.

Cambridge Tour

By: Kimberly Arleth

Mount Auburn Cemetery

Starting off the day at a unique archive space, our group gathered at Mount Auburn Cemetery to meet with Meg Winslow, archivist. Working in the archives at Mount Auburn Cemetery not only means working with traditional records and correspondence, but also with the monuments and documents of life throughout the 170 acre grounds.

IMG_2114Meg began with an overview of the history of Mount Auburn and the role the cemetery had in changing the way early Americans approached an inevitable part of life, death and morning.

After our introduction, the group made our way up the hill to old part of the cemetery. Discussion through this tour touched on the various vocabulary of cemetery culture and its monuments. Meg showcased several monuments with unique details that spoke to the time and beliefs the family lived under.

In addition we learned that families would often place larger lineage on family monuments (even for those members not interred in the plot)– a favorite among visiting genealogists.

Additionally the connection of the cemetery to horticulture was discussed in length. Mount Auburn is not only a final resting place, it is also a registered arboretum and you will often find visitors walking the grounds to appreciate the beauty of this unique urban landscape.

The space Mount Auburn embodies is multifaceted and as many on this tour can attest, we could have spent a great deal of time with Meg talking about the nuances of an archive that is much.

Cambridge Historical Society

After our time at Mount Auburn Cemetery came to an end, our group made the short trek over to the Cambridge Historical Society. Here we met with the newest archivist on staff, Rina Sandler, who began with an overview of the history and ownership of the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House which is home to the Cambridge Historical Society. Passing back and forth between three major families the home saw many ups, downs and received several updates throughout the years. After a quick tour of the public facing portion of the home, the group was brought into the archivists working space. Ms. Sandler spoke to the intricacies of onboarding as a solo archivist, a position similar to that of several members of our tour group.

 

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