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Sep 13 / Veronica Johnson

Archival Fellowship at Institute of Jazz Studies

This past June I completed a two week fellowship at the Institute of Jazz Studies (IJS) at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ. Every summer, IJS recruits three MLIS graduate students with an interest in archives and music to be a part of their Archival Fellowship Program, which was established in 2011 to support archival career development, as well as to promote diversity in the archival field. As an avid jazz fan and aspiring music archivist, I am very interested in working at a music archive once I graduate, so this was an amazing opportunity to be able to intern at IJS since it specializes in jazz scholarship. During the fellowship, two other fellows, myself and the IJS archivists processed a collection belonging to jazz pianist Andrew Hill.

SLIS Student Veronica Johnson

SLIS Student Veronica Johnson

Hill was a jazz pianist during the 1960s, and made a resurgence on the music scene during the late 90s and early 2000s before passing away in 2007. His widow Joanne Hill donated the collection to IJS to be made available to researchers. The items in his collection included professional and personal items collected throughout his lifetime including news clippings, correspondence, honorary degrees from various colleges, photos, awards and sheet music. After the processing took place, we ended up with 27 boxes of material. We also created the finding aid for the collection, which is titled the “Guide to the Andrew Hill papers, music and audiovisual recordings, 1956-2011.” Each of the fellows worked on a portion of the finding aid and used the EAD finding aid software Oxygen to code the document so it could made available online. I had previously learned about Oxygen and EAD in my Electronic Archives class so it was very cool to be able to get some hands on experience using the software. We also created an online exhibit of the collection using Omeka, which is an open source web-publishing platform that allows libraries, museums, and archival institutions to create web exhibitions of their collections.

In addition to working on the collection, we took field trips to other area archival institutions.Some of the places we visited included the The New York Public Library Archival Processing Center, the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center and the National Jazz Museum of Harlem. We were given private tours of their facilities and learned more about their collections. My favorite trip out of the bunch was visiting the Louis Armstrong House Museum and Archive. The Louis Armstrong Archive is located at Queens College, so we were given a tour of the archive by archivist Ricky Ricardi, and we toured Armstrong’s house which is located in Corona Queens.

Completing the IJS fellowship at Rutgers was an amazing experience and one that I will forever be grateful for. I learned so much about processing and the steps it takes to make a collection available to users. Working on the Andrew Hill Collection was great, and it really gave me the opportunity to process a larger collection, which I had never done before. I learned a lot about Hill and quickly became a fan of his work, which was very innovative.

The IJS Fellows program really gives graduate students the opportunity to be archivists for two weeks and get a real sense of the day to day tasks of the profession. The IJS staff is awesome and really made me feel welcome and a part of the team. I also developed some great friendships with the other fellows and am so thankful that I was able to take advantage of this great opportunity.

For more information about the program and the 2016 IJS fellows, check out the Rutgers University Libraries news article below:

The Andrew Hill finding aid at Institute of Jazz Studies: