Internship – Archives of American Art – Washington, DC

The Smithsonian Women’s Committee 2015 Summer Internship in Scrapbook Preservation

The Macbeth Gallery Scrapbooks at the Archives of American Art are an archival collection in dire need of stabilization and digitization preparation to allow full research use. The goal of digitization preparation is to reunite, mend broken and fragile overlaid items in their original placement where adhesive has failed and fragility permits; provide surface cleaning to improve contrast; apply supportive mends focusing energy on unique manuscript annotations (as opposed to newspaper clippings with masthead and date), rehouse undersized loose or especially vulnerable items such as photographs; and/or intervening with original attachments which are or will cause damage and possibly rehinging items with tissue hinges (per curatorial discussion). This makes the decision path smoother and operations more efficient for the digitization contractor, and future users. The incumbents will over a ten-week period, assess treatment needs, prioritize, prepare supplies and perform treatments and housing interventions in support of an ongoing item-level digitization workflow.

The scrapbooks include news clippings, correspondence, photographs and ephemera related to the activities of the gallery from the early 20th  century with manuscript annotations that are extremely vulnerable at the edges. The scrapbook albums have been previously surveyed, which allows for the interventions and treatments to be progressively complex. Learning and understanding vulnerabilities and history of materials, preparation and selection of repair materials, and creating modifications for enclosures to allow for safer handling of contents during digitization, by on-site contractor are the primary tasks. As items move into the digitization workflow, interns will provide assistance in handling and reassembly as needed, and will have ample opportunity to observe and participate in the digital product by assisting in quality assurance, adding content to the finding aid, reviewing metadata and other topics. Treatments will include one or more of the following activities: surface cleaning, reassociation and mending of manuscript fragments where prioritized and possible; locating and readhering clippings for which adhesive has failed, or rehousing in envelope labeled with as-found or presumed original location; paper mending at vulnerable edges of manuscript; interleaving vulnerable photos; applying corner or channel mounts to heavy inclusions; interleaving with support boards; creating custom enclosures (four-flap wrappers or corrugated clamshells) within the current boxes. Beyond these stabilizing actions, there is no shortage of advanced level treatment to pursue in these albums, such as photograph identification, stain removal, pressure-sensitive tape removal and/or alkalization per the curator’s priority and time remaining. The latter work would take place in the lab at SIA. Additional archival opportunities include subject research, and writing description and content notes.

Location/duty stations: Due to the fragile and large nature of the collection, and time-limited duration, transport of the objects is largely discouraged. The project will take place mostly onsite at the Archives of American Art (Washington DC location) at a designated field conservation station (70%). Supply preparation, some training, and occasional advanced level treatment will take place at the Smithsonian

Institution Archives’ laboratory, which is within walkable or short public transport distance away (30%). Smithsonian Institution transport is also available between locations.

Supervisors include the Conservator for the Smithsonian Institution Archives, and the Registrar and the Head of Digitization at the Archives of American Art.

Stipend: The stipend of $5,000, generously sponsored by the Smithsonian Women’s Committee is offered for each full-time (40 hour) ten week opportunity. Interns also have exposure to in-house tours, seminars and observation of other projects ongoing at both locations. Relocation, housing, and insurance are not included. Start dates are flexible from the week of May 26-June 1.

Contacts: Full application instructions via the Smithsonian’s online internship application system (SOLAA) are found on the website of the Archives of American Art, Deadline is March 15,2015.


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