Two New Volunteers Join the Reader Services Team

By Elaine Grublin

In May two volunteers, Beth Hirsch & Liz Francis, joined the library reader services team.  The two women, both currently students at Simmons College’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science, will assist with the selection of documents to be featured in Looking at the Civil War: Massachusetts Finds Her Voice on the MHS website. The web-presentation features one document per month selected from the MHS’ own collections & written 150 years prior by a Massachusetts resident reflecting on some facet of the Civil War.  For more information about the overall project, click here.

Beth’s first assignment is to canvas a variety of collections looking for a document to be featured in June 2011 — meaning the document must have been written in June 1861.  We are hoping to find a document that allows for a woman’s voice to be heard.  Right now we are looking at a number of likely candidates.  Once the final selection is made Beth will complete a transcription of the document and research & write a contextual essay to accompany the digitized images of the document on our website (see our April document for an example of what this looks like).  After completing her work with the June document, Beth will likely dive right into collections containing letters written by Massachusetts soldiers who participated in the Battle of Bull Run in search of an item to feature in July. 

Liz’s first task is to complete a survey of a body of letters written by Hannah Elizabeth Stevenson contained in the larger Curtis-Stevenson Family Papers.  Hannah served as a nurse in various Union hospitals in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington from July 1861 through October 1862. Liz is challenged to identify and summarize all letters of particular interest, which may be used in a number of different MHS projects over the course of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, and also to select one single letter from the collection to be featured in Massachusetts Finds Her Voice in the coming months.  Again, once a selection is made Liz will be working on the transcription and contextual essay to support the document when it is added to the web-presentation. 

While our summer spots filled up fast, there will likely be additional opportunities for volunteers in the fall.  Please contact Elaine Grublin if you would like further information about volunteering for this project.