Summer in the Archives
By: Addey Kifle
I’ve always had an interest in the processing and preservation of historic materials so when I got the opportunity to work in the University Archives I was excited to experience firsthand what a career in that would look like.
I began the summer organizing a small portion of the massive collection of paperwork left behind by Margaret Bush Wilson, the second black woman to pass the bar in Missouri who did a lot of work for civil rights in St. Louis and across the United States. Being able to see some of the work she had done was both mindboggling and inspiring. Even though I don’t have an interest in law, it was clear that these materials had to be saved; they provided direct, firsthand information from the past and all of the work that had to be done to get us to this point.
After that I worked on a couple of different projects including processing dissertations from the late 19th century, organizing publications released by the university, and filing architectural photographs from the 19th century that were used as a teaching tools and in an exhibit. These projects have given me a look into very different aspects of the history of WashU and St. Louis.
It has been an amazing experience to handle these primary sources and to play a role in providing research materials both professionals and the public while helping to preserve the history of this great city.