Happy American Archives Month!

By Rakashi Chand, Senior Library Assistant

It’s that time of year when leaves start to turn, there is a chill in the air, and the days get shorter, which can only mean one thing…It’s Archives Month!

What exactly is Archives Month, you ask? It is a month to learn about, connect with, and explore archives and the archival field. Take some time and talk to an archivist this month and you’ll learn about an exciting field of work that may be even more interesting than you thought.

Here at the Massachusetts Historical Society we usually take this opportunity to introduce you to our team of archivists so that you can learn more about what they do on a daily basis, and share their interests and specialties. However, this year is unlike any other as the coronavirus pandemic alters our lives and work. Archivists across the country and, indeed, the globe are facing challenges brought to the field in the wake of Covid-19.

Therefore, this year we want to share with you the experiences of our staff as they find innovative ways to work remotely and connect researchers to our collections. We will also illustrate the challenges of the job when we cannot physically access and interact with our collections.

For a sample, we asked our Nora Saltonstall Preservation Librarian, Kathy Griffin:

How has the Coivd-19 shutdown impacted your work as an archivist, and how have you overcome the challenges it presents?

KG:  “Since so much of my work is hands-on work with collections, my work has been greatly affected by the coronavirus restrictions, particularly in the early months of the pandemic. I can attend meetings and programs via Zoom and other online meeting formats, but I cannot arrange and preserve collections material. We even had a water leak which I could not respond to, a leak which affected some of our publications, our building itself, and some supplies stored in the basement. I did work at home for other types of projects – digital projects and marketing, but this work did not fill my at-home days. I also worked on volunteer projects for the Boston Public Library and the Dedham Historical Society. At present, we are divided into two teams and we work two weeks in the building and two weeks out of the building. I still do not fill my work days at home. I am very grateful to have a job, and I am most happy when I can come into the building and work on the collections.  The MHS has been a very conscientious and thoughtful employer over these troubling times.”

Tune in next week when we will be sharing more of the thoughts and experiences of our staff during the shutdown.

Ask An Archivist Day
#AskAnArchivist Day is on 7 October

And on Wednesday, 7 October, we will take to social media for #AskAnArchivist Day! Prepare your questions and find us on Twitter @MHS1791 and @MHS1791_Ref where our archivists will respond to all of your questions, from the practical to the whimsical. Remember to include the tag #AskAnarchivist! You can also send in your questions via e-mail, or check out our live chat.