Monday, March 16, 2009

Progress on Peterson - An Introduction

Greetings! I'm Renna Tuten, Project Archivist at the Russell Library. In 2007 I was hired to process the Hugh Peterson, Sr. Papers for a period of two years. This entry marks the beginning of a new segment on the Russell blog -- Progress on Peterson -- which will serve as a public journal of my daily work, the discoveries and challenges I encounter while readying the collection for researchers. By documenting my own work, I hope to give readers a glimpse of what goes on behind-the-scenes at an archives and the chance to discover the treasures in this new collection alongside the archivist.

Let's start at the very beginning: what does it mean when an archivist says "process" in reference to an archival collection? Well, processing involves organizing, arranging, and describing items in a person, family or organization's collection so that researchers can locate information. The collections we receive here at the Russell contain everything from paper items like newspapers, letters, and ticket stubs to everyday objects such as t-shirts and pens as well as photographs and films. Some of these things are considered rare and unique based on factors like age and condition but every item contributes to the telling of a story. The Hugh Peterson, Sr. Papers reveal a story about state and national politics from the 1920s into the 1940s - years Peterson spent serving as a Legislator in the Georgia General Assembly and the U.S. House of Representatives.

A few treasures I've come across so far are these photographs. The first (above) was used on the cover of Le Monde Illustre in the 1930s. It depicts Peterson and his staff in 1938, eating watermelons brought to Washington from the Congressman's hometown of Ailey, Georgia -- a yearly treat for everyone. The second photo shows Peterson and his son, Hugh Peterson, Jr., looking over paperwork in the Congressman's Capitol Hill office in 1937.

Over the next few months, I hope to share more unique items I find in the collection -- so stay tuned! Here's to Hugh!

No comments: