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the curse of archives

The curse is, we’re all having too much fun. (Except Kathy who was forced into a work stoppage today because of computer issues and was forced to go bowling in lieu of working for us).  We’re working on the upcoming tenure-track faculty archivist recruitment, answering great reference requests, captioning in-house exhibits, rewriting finding aids (yes, even that can be fun), and Nicole?  Nicole is having the most fun of all.  She’s doing selection for two photographs exhibits we’re planning to put up this winter: one on Alaskans indoors and one for women’s history month on women working.  So every time Mariecris and I turn around she’s got more photos to share.  My favorite one today was the mother/daughter pose entitled “Mother and Jean ready to go berry picking” from the Harry Staser collection.  I’ve got to share it with you.

Harry Staser family papers.

Harry Staser family papers.

Isn’t that great?  Clothing appropriate for whatever ground and climatic conditions may occur, pails at the ready, and oh, yes, rifle at the ready as well.  One of the interesting pieces of berry picking in Alaska is that you’re usually doing it at the same time as rather large bears are eating as much food as they can possibly stuff themselves with in preparation for hibernation.  And they’re not always very good about sharing.  Now we don’t know that Mother was planning to protect from bears or maybe she was a hunter planning to bring home some game meat along with the berries.

But they are ready, for whatever the day might bring.

And there-in lies another of the curses of archives: sometimes we just don’t get to know the rest of the story.  Did they get all the berries they wanted?  What kind of berries were they picking (and more important to this avowed berry-picker, where were they picking?)  Was the rifle there simply for protection or for hunting as well as picking?  Did they run into any bears on this trip or was it hopefully uneventful?  The photographs and the documents aren’t saying.

But you can see why we have fun at our jobs.  And Nicole probably more so than most.  Good hunting, Nicole.  For photos, I mean.

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