Junk Drawers and Archives

Hello, and welcome back to another blog post about my internship with the United States Marine Corps History Division. This past week was pretty great. Nothing too difficult, and I and some good experience. 

One nonwork related thing I did at the Marine Base, probably became one of the most patriotic experiences I have had. Last Tuesday, there was a BBQ happening on base, and for a small fee everyone, including the civilian employees could participate. I decided to go along with a couple of other workers from the archive. Even though the food was kind of mediocre, getting to eat one of the most American themed meals while surrounded by service men and woman is one of the most American things I can think of getting to do this summer.  

In terms of actual work, I am continuing to work with the photographs and describing and cataloging photos of all different kinds and sizes. Working long and hard to try and ensure that these photos can be enjoyed by others moving forward. 

Part of working with the photos has led me to work in a new (to me) part of the archives. That being a drawer that I have dubbed the “junk drawer” of the archive. Now, the reason I have given it this nickname is because of the stuff that is inside of it. There are dozens of large photographs within this shelving unit. 

This project is really connected to what I have been doing with my supervisor throughout this summer. Cataloging photographs and adding better descriptions to them and making sure they are in places that are more in line with the organization of the rest of the collection. However, there are some differences with what is in this group of photos as opposed to what we have already done. The previous photos, mostly, had names attached to them, and information as to what collection they were attached to. These photos in the “junk drawer” rarely, if ever, have that kind of information.

In addition to that, there is no telling what kind of photographs will be found also. There have been several “head scratchers” as to why these photographs are being kept in a Marine Corps Archives. Just a couple of my favorites have been a generic photo that was torn to pieces and had a large piece of glass attached to it. An original newspaper from 1791 (nothing mentioning the Marine Corps to be found). Also, there was an entirely unidentified photograph, that appeared to be from World War I and it was in a used folder that had a name of a country that Marines were certainly not in in World War I.

Having random misadventures like this are some of my favorite parts of working in an archive. You never really know what you are going to see. Having experiences like this really helps prove to me that this is a field that I can go into long term.

Published by mddarlin

Just a Library School student from Indiana University, Bloomington trying to become a professional archivist.

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  1. I am trying to envision the photo attached to glass. Was someone trying to keep it together by attaching it to the glass?

    1. I think it was from whatever picture frame it was previously in, and when it was being taken out of the frame for preservation purposes the glass had stuck itself to the photo and could not be removed.

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