posted July 1, 2013 3:15 PM by Jessi Bennett
I went on my first site visit on Friday. A site visit is a visit to a prospective archives donor to see the size/condition/subject matter of a collection to see if it's appropriate for the archives before accepting the responsibility to move the entire collection.
This visit was half site visit, half social call since the Cambridge History Room had already accepted the collection from this donor and we were only going down to pick up two more boxes she had found. We were to meet the donor at her house in Marshfield, about a 2 hour ride from Cambridge. Once we got off the highway into the little cape towns, it was gorgeous! All those trees! Boston is a lot greener than some cities I've been in but you forget the amount of foliage that lies undisturbed right beyond its borders. We saw old farm houses, little town markets, and even a few horses.
Our directions, written by the donor (who is an author), told us to take such and such a road "winding around several houses," to notice the nursery on our right at one spot, the wharf on our left at another, to go over the causeway and take the "narrow unmade road" past the dead end sign until we reached her house which overlooks the marsh. In fact, at one point we almost drove into the marsh! Descriptive directions are beautiful but sometimes not very practical (all flower covered traffic islands start to look the same).
I'm sure in every archivist's career there are stories of wonderful and horrible donor visits. I'm glad my first one was so lovely. The house was gorgeous! I just kept staring out the windows into the beautiful view of the marsh with the ocean beyond it. She showed us pictures of it during storms when the tide came up to the deck and in the winter when the marsh froze into miniature glaciers.
We were given black currant juice, salad, bread, cheese and fruit, and chatted about Tolkien and other topics. It really was a lovely day.
Internships can sometimes be frustrating, working for no pay. Even if you love the work you are doing, in the back of your mind you wish they were paying you instead of you paying for the class. But sometimes it's good to have a chance to step back and realize all the opportunities you are getting. I really love this profession, Simmons and Boston. As soon as I was done for the day, I called my mother to tell her all that I had done and seen. This was one of those chances that I would never have had otherwise.