Behind the Scenes with Archives Intern

During the Fall 2016 semester, the NYSID Archives & Special Collections welcomed Victoria Pace as an intern to work specifically on a collection guide for the Yale R. Burge Antiques and Interiors Collection.  Yale R. Burge was a well-known interior designer and purveyor of antique furniture, décor, and select antique reproductions. Victoria received a Master’s program in Library Science with a concentration in Archives from LIU Palmer School of Library and Information Science in December 2016, and recently sat down for a Q&A on her experience as the NYSID Archives intern. 

How did you come to be an intern with the NYSID Archives & Special Collections?
I was in my last semester in the master’s program at LIU Palmer School of Library and Information Science where I was pursuing an MLIS with a concentration in Archives, and an internship at an archives was a graduation requirement.  I had a long career in public relations in design-related fields and, as a result of a conversation with Su Hilty, who I have known through the International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA), I learned of the NYSID Archives.  

What was the primary goal for your internship?
The primary goal of my Fall 2016 internship with the NYSID Archives & Special Collections was to produce a finding aid for the Yale R. Burge Antiques and Interiors Collection to be published on Archives Space, a new web-based archival management system that the industry is currently adopting.  A finding aid is a document that contains detailed information about a specific collection within an archive. Finding aids are often used by researchers to determine whether or not the information is relevant to their research. This will be one of the first finding aids for the NYSID Archives, and the first one that I created from start to finish.

What did you discover in the collection?
There are 16 boxes in the Burge collection and I created a container list for each one. This is a very hands-on activity, which provides an overall understanding of what the collection is about and what may be missing. In this case, the collection contained furniture drawings, photographs, and product catalogs.

What was the most rewarding part of your internship experience?
Burge’s son, Robert, who donated the collection two years ago, met with us at the NYSID Library and provided a more thorough chronology of his father’s accomplishments, family background, and business history. It was a highlight of my internship experience as the material really sprung to life!  While it was personally gratifying to see the end result of my internship’s effort culminate in a finding aid on ArchivesSpace, the thought that the finding aid will soon be accessible to users really makes it worthwhile for me. I also could not have asked for a better experience at NYSID.  I had the opportunity to gain practical experience in processing from archivist Nora Reilly, and to learn the ArchivesSpace platform alongside her. Working with ArchivesSpace was was invaluable, especially since it is new and holds great promise in making many hidden collections, such as the Yale M. Burge Antiques and Inteirors Collection at NYSID, accessible to researchers.

Phyllis Greer