The end of the Fall 2019 semester is rapidly approaching. The air is colder, and deadlines are looming ever closer. Fortunately, I can report that the duties of my fellowship are nearly complete. The data for the now processed second half of the Matt Garcia Papers has been imported to the cloud program ArchivesSpace, and I merged the two halves into one list of folder titles arranged alphabetically. Soon, the completed finding aid will be available on the Online Archive of California (OAC).
At this point, the only daunting task on my horizon is the presentation to the library staff. I have not had to write extensive series collection summaries or a biographic history, as most of the front matter was completed after the first half of the processing was finished in 2018. I simply must rewrite a few entries and add the relevant information regarding the new items in the collection. The finish line is in sight.
With that in mind, I hope everyone has a lovely week off class. Let us return refreshed and prepared for a strong finish to Fall 2019. Happy Thanksgiving!
One final note, I included images of the UFW publication I mentioned last week below. I am not exactly a technological savant, so I couldn’t get the images to look right. Alas, I figured it out. Enjoy!
I have learned quite a bit working in archives over the past year, and I must say that one of those lessons became apparent this week. The lesson is that, no matter how much you feel that you are finished, a second look back through the collection reveals new questions and issues. For me, this took the form of working through some oversize items that needed to be placed in proper containers. These included large photocopies, and a few newspapers.
One of the newspapers I looked at this week drew my attention more than it had previously. Garcia obtained a few issues of the UFW newspaper, El Malcriado, from 1973. The paper was “the official voice of the United Farmworkers,” and kept up with boycott news, legal developments in the union’s struggle for rights, and one paper here includes a message from Cesar Chavez himself.
A final note, I am trying to work quickly to get the finding aid ready. There have already been requests for materials made by researchers. Of course, Special Collections provided access, but I know that a completed finding aid will make things easier for prospective researchers in the future.
This week, I want to write briefly about the nature of the oral history materials in Garcia’s collection. Oral history materials in this collection take the form of consent and release forms, interview transcripts, and conference programs and brochures. Of the six boxes in the processed collection, oral history materials take up nearly a full box if you include transcripts from interviewers other than Garcia himself.
Garcia interviewed many prominent figures and former UFW members, including a former UFW lawyer, and participants of the Coachella Valley Unified School District student walkout (see blog “Chicanx History in the Coachella Valley” or “Missing Voices”). As I look through the transcripts, especially a few of the longer ones, I must wonder if Garcia transcribed these interviews himself or hired a research assistant. One of the transcripts weighs in at just over 200 pages. These oral histories were crucial to his research, and it has been very interesting to read through a few of them. At least, some of the shorter ones.
Now that the processing is done, I am working on creating a container list. The container list is an excel spreadsheet which outlines the folder titles, dates, and notes that will be incorporated into the finding aid. As I create the list, I must go back through some folders to make sure I add any important notes, such as significant points of interest for researchers or in some cases warnings about violent content and explicit language. This process can tedious, but it is important. However, I can be sure that it is not as tedious as transcribing hours of interview tapes. I’ll leave that to the oral historians (or, more likely, their research assistants).
This is my eighth blog post, which means that I am officially halfway through my 16-week fellowship! I am also happy to report that I finished processing the rest of Garcia’s collection. What was once seven disheveled boxes of notes, articles, and oral history transcripts is now five neatly organized boxes, lined with archival folders. Next week, the second half begins as I take the first steps to produce a finding aid for the collection.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this fellowship, the current collection will be incorporated into the first half processed in 2018. Now that the processing is done, I imagine that the next few weeks or so will include incorporating files into the existing first half and entering metadata into ArchivesSpace. Also, I think it might be wise to start thinking about the presentation I will have to give at the end of this fellowship. I’m sure it will be upon me much quicker than I expect.