We are now approaching six months of renewed processing work on the James M. Buchanan papers. A lot of hard work has happened in that time, and Project Archivist Rebecca Thayer has made significant progress and moved into new phases of the project since her last blog post. I’ll let her tell you more about what she’s been up to and what her next steps are in her own soon-to-come post, but in the meantime, I want to introduce you to the newest staff member working with the Buchanan papers, Graduate Research Assistant Rachel Barton!
This is Rachel’s first semester as a student at George Mason, where she is earning a Master’s Degree in history. This will be her second graduate degree – she has a Master’s in teaching from James Madison University, as well as a BA in history from the same institution. Rachel’s keen eye for detail and her skills as a historian and an educator will be a great asset to the Buchanan project.
As the GRA for the Buchanan papers processing project, Rachel reports directly to Rebecca and will assist her with arranging and describing the papers. This will include tasks such as putting materials in folders, creating titles for folders, arranging folders based on the order that best reflects how Buchanan and his administrative staff (Betty Tillman and Jo Ann Burgess) used the papers while also making them as accessible as possible for researchers, and assisting with writing parts of the finding aid that will guide users of the Buchanan papers to the parts of the collection that they want to see. Archival processing requires a processor to make judgement calls about how to accomplish these tasks, and as part of the GRA experience, Rachel will be learning about archival theory and applying what she reads and learns from us in her work on the Buchanan papers. She will also help Rebecca supervise undergraduate student assistants who we will hire in the future.
Right now, Rachel is hard at work reading about James M. Buchanan and gaining valuable contextual information about his life and his professional and personal relationships, as well as learning about the history of the Buchanan processing project itself. She is also taking her first steps into arrangement by alphabetizing parts of the correspondence series, with guidance from Rebecca.
You’ll be hearing from Rachel herself soon in a future blog post once she’s fully settled in and has spent more time working on the project. Until then, welcome Rachel!
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