Personal Anecdote….

Funny thing happened this week. While entering the Seymour Papers’ finding aid into the library’s records system. I had to double checked the written directions given to me because I could not remember how to do something. While reading the directions, it stated that the selection I clicked should have auto-populated the information I needed. I had a moment of panic because nothing auto-populated!!! Surely I must be doing something wrong! I moved onto task 2 and the same thing happened! As someone who HATES doing something incorrectly I quickly shot off an email asking for help. Turns out the part of the directions that stated information would be auto-populated was outdated. When changing the directions from how to use the old system to how to use the new system, this one sentence accidentally got left behind. Luckily the instructions can now be updated so that way future fellows won’t suffer momentary heart failure. 

Back from Vacation for the Presentation

After spending 2 weeks abroad, I quickly got thrown back into work when I found out my final CCEPS presentation had been scheduled for my second day back to work. So 

I spent yesterday and the better part of today preparing for, and giving, my final presentation about the John Laurence Seymour Collection. Even though my time with Seymour will be coming to an end soon, it has been wonderful to get to know him through his collection. There are still a few loose ends to tie up (such as preserving a few more oversize posters and uploading the finding aid for the collection) so I will spend the rest of the month working to ensure the collection is ready for researchers.

Off to London

Tomorrow evening this archivist takes off to explore Europe for the next 2 weeks. A few of my days will be spent in London. I thought this made an excellent opportunity to share one of the postcards John Laurence Seymour brought back from his European trip in 1922/1923. Seymour would purchase post cards as souvenirs to keep for himself, and frequently made notations on the back of them with personal descriptions and anecdotes. Below is a postcard of the Tower of London with Seymour’s notations on the back included.

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Secondary Sources

When processing an archival collection, generally, you are dealing strictly with primary sources. While that is a fantastic experience, sometimes some secondary sources can be incredibly helpful to help one synthesize and put into context the files upon files of documents. One of, if not the, best secondary source about John Laurence Seymour is a chapter from a book about Mormons at the Metropolitan Opera, written by Glen Nelson. The chapter “Digging Up the Pasha’s Garden” looks at both Seymour and his experiences related to his opera, In the Pasha’s Garden, performed at the Met in 1934/1935. I have found the chapter particularly helpful in writing the finding aid for the John Laurence Seymour Papers, and I would highly encourage others to read this chapter as well. The link is provided below:

Opera Advertisements- Part 2

Last week I promised for a solution for the
over-sized posters, and luckily we worked something out. The large posters that
are too big for even the map drawers will be folded either in half (or in
quarters based on how giant the poster is). The goal is basically to have as
few folds as possible. Then, we will make custom sleeves for each folded poster
out of Mylar, in order to help prevent any further damage and to keep pieces
which have ripped off together. Those sleeved posters will then go into a giant
file with all of the other over-
sized posters from this collection, and placed safely in the map drawers. Sadly, because these posters are so large and fragile, there is really no way to safely scan them with the resources we have here at the library…. However I was able to take a photo of one of the larger and more delicate posters with my phone, which is the photo below. The poster is from around the turn of the century and advertises an opera titled, “Adriana Lecouvreur”. 

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Opera Advertisements- Part 1

Hidden away in the last few unprocessed folders of the Seymour Collection hid some of the most beautiful opera advertisements this archivist has ever seen first-hand. The full-color advertisements range in size from a small 4×12 inch flyer to an enormous 77×40 inch poster. Archiving the flyers typically follows the same process as any other paper item, so long as there is no damage to the flyer. However, the large posters prove more difficult. Paper items should always be stored as flat as possible, but an item over 6 feet in length proves trickier. Archival drawers are often the solution for large items, however even those are only so big. Honestly, I am not totally sure what we are going to do with this giant poster yet. It is seriously massive, and to complicate matters further, it is also pretty fragile.  Even an archival drawer would not provide enough space to lay the poster flat. Stay tuned next week….. hopefully we will have a solution then!

Until then though, enjoy these significantly more manageably-sized flyers for the operas: Iris, Madam Butterfly, Giovanni Gallvrese, and La Figlia Di Iorio.

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Archiving Pro Tip: Erasing

Hopefully it should be no surprise that paper is made up of pulp derived from fibers of wood (or sometimes other fibrous materials such as grasses or cotton). These fibers are layered and pressed in a way that means each fiber is positioned in its own unique direction. Keeping this in mind, there is actually a trick when erasing a mistake made with pencil. While a lot of people may move their eraser quickly side to side, or up and down, this is not the most efficient way to erase. The best way is to move your eraser in a circular motion, both clockwise and counter-clockwise. By moving the eraser around in this manner it shifts the fibers of the paper in all directions, which means all of the tiny little fibers can be fully massaged by eraser! Be sure to try this trick next time you need to make a quick correction!

Desperately Seeking…Rights?

During his editing exchanges with his editors and publisher,
Irving Wallace was sent the following clipping from the Los Angeles Times newspaper.

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The clipping is from an unknown date, though it would have
been sometime in 1970-1973 while he was working on The Fan Club.  Apparently
Wallace had reason to create a mock personal ad for his book. One of Wallace’s
editors on the project sent him the clipping as a model and suggesting that
Wallace needed to change the size of the font he was using for the heading. So,
in this particular exchange, the content of the clipping was completely
irrelevant and yet what happens to be in this particular clipping is truly
fascinating and could easily serve as inspiration for the latest mystery
thriller.

The first personal ad reads:

My 1st, 4th,
5th, 9th, & 14th amendment rights have
been violated. For an unexplained reason I have been subjected to overt &
covert physical surveillance, undercover intelligence gathering, maintainance [sic] of files & dossiers,
intimidation & harassment. I urgently need public intervention to
investigate as I cannot afford legal costs to protect my rights. Eleanor
Hemstreet, 213/361-5361.

The first sentence would make a great opening for a mystery
thriller. I can just imagine all kinds of interesting possibilities of what was
happening here. Of course, there is always the possibility that whoever took
out this personal ad was imagining these things for any number of reasons. But
what if she wasn’t?

It is a wonder Mr. Wallace did not pick up on the content of
this personal ad and write his own story about it. From the work of his that I
have seen thus far, including research notes and observations, he found
inspiration in pretty much everything. He was keen to observe people when he
was looking to flesh out characters for his novels.  Sometimes I find his research notes to be more
interesting than the novel he produced from them (sorry Irving!).

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Brother of the Alpha Kappa Lambda

On September 7th, 1914, John Laurence
Seymour became an initiated member of the Alpha Kappa Lambda Fraternity. Founded
as a national fraternity on April 22, 1914, Seymour became an early inductee of
the organization. UC Berkley would be the Fraternity’s only chapter until 1921
when their Gamma chapter was founded at the University of Illinois
Champaign-Urbana. Today AKL boasts 39 chapters and colonies, 1,064 active
members, and 26,187 alumni members.

Seymour frequently made contributions to the
Fraternity’s publication The Logos.
He wrote a poem for the first issue of the The
Logos
, originally called the Diamond,
in January of 1915. In the November 1926 edition, Seymour provided the opening
article, “Opera and Life”, followed by a second part titled “Opera in the
United States” in the June 1927 edition. Seymour contributed again in May of
1929 with a piece titled, “Some Interesting Spots in France.” Finally,
Seymour’s accomplishments were highlighted and applauded in the February 1926
edition by a former Senior Grand President of the Fraternity.

Below is a copy of Seymour’s original initiation
certificate.

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For more information about Alpha Kappa Lambda
Fraternity, be sure to visit their website: http://akl.org/

Archiving Pro-Tip: Folder Numbering

An important part of archiving is folder
numbering. Each folder is given a number based on its position within a box. So
for example, the 5th folder in box 2 would be labeled, “folder 5,
box 2.” During the early phases of processing a collection, it can be tempting
to label a folder as soon as it is full and placed in a box. However, the best
time to number folders is toward the end during the process of creating a
folder list. 

Frequently, when archival collections are taken in
by an institution, items within that collection are not organized in any
particular order. In order to make the collection as accessible as possible to
researchers, some kind of order needs to be made of the collection. This means
dividing the collection into a few different series that intellectually make
sense. Common series groupings include biographical information,
correspondence, and photographs. Each collection is unique, as is each
archivist, so series titles and groupings vary from collection to collection.
Series can change throughout the processing stage depending on what items the
archivist discovers.

Oversized or oddly shaped items are another factor
to take into consideration while folder numbering. Even though intellectually
the oversized items may belong to the correspondence series, they will not fit
into the same size box as the other items. These items will be pulled and
placed in a separate oversize box. However they will remain in order with the
rest of the series item on the actual folder list. The folder list will notate
the separated location.

All of these factors affect what a folder is
numbered, and that is why the numbering process should not begin until the
creation of the folder list. Otherwise, you may have to renumber your folders
multiple times, taking up precious archival time.