Monthly Archives: October 2019

What does the archive mean to me?

How can I even begin to answer that question?  My experiences in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) and with SCARC faculty over the past four and a half years have been, in one word, amazing.  But beyond that, there are not enough words to even begin to say what this experience has meant to me.  Every day there is something new to discover and new people to interact with.  But even more importantly, over the past four years I have discovered that my work in special collections and archives has fostered in me a love beyond merely conducting research, but being able to share in others’ work and excitement of discovery in the archives.  Through working at SCARC I get to use my background in history and research to share with researchers (and the world through social media!) what amazing collections we have the honor of working with. 

I have also had the opportunity to work outreach events, events that I believe are crucial to reaching people outside of the academic setting.  I have volunteered to work SCARC open houses and exhibit openings, while also traveling farther afield to work events in Portland.  This ability to share SCARC with people beyond those who walk into the reading room is one of my favorite parts of working here.  And I LOVE working the front desk.  My hours spent working the front desk have been some of the most fulfilling.

While completing my PhD and working at SCARC I also had the opportunity to serve as Deschutes Brewery Archiving Intern.  Aside from working full-time while going to school, this was an eye-opening experience that allowed me another opportunity to share the archive experience with those outside of the traditional academic setting.  It was also the largest collection I had processed on my own.  This was a great learning experience that truly brought the archives to life for me and gave me a project I could call my own.  I also valued the opportunity to share the importance of archives for preserving not only company records or artifacts, but the importance of the employees voices in that company history.

But most importantly, I have decided that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.  Despite having spent seven years working on a Masters and then PhD in History of Science, I want to spend my days working at an archive.  As I look towards the future and think about what I want it to hold, I know my future plans will ideally include working and teaching in an archive.  With the experiences I have gained in my seven years at OSU, four of which I had to honor of spending working in SCARC, I know I don’t want my work in the archives to end.  To me, the archives can serve as a place to bring all these experiences together and allow me to pursue a profession that brings together the best parts of being a historian while having the opportunity to share this knowledge through archives and aiding in each researcher’s own research and project development. 

Anna Elizabeth Dvorak is a historian of science focusing on science in early Cold War policy.  She recently completed her PhD dissertation on Leo Szilard’s fact and fiction here at OSU.

Announcing the Gil Zigler papers!

Anna Elizabeth Dvorak is a historian of science who focuses on science in early Cold War policy.  She recently completed her PhD dissertation on Leo Szilard’s fact and fiction here at OSU. Processing the Gil Zigler Papers was her last project as SCARC’s Lead Student Archivist.

I recently finished processing the Gil Zigler Papers, and as this is my final project for SCARC it is bittersweet.  But it was also the perfect collection to end on: Zigler’s collection combines my expertise with the reason I love working in an archive, the people.  I have spent the past seven years working on a masters and doctorate in the history of science focusing on nuclear history, only to be convinced that my true passion lies in working the archive not as a researcher but as an archivist.  Being a historian archivist allows me to share my passion for research over and over again with each patron that comes in. And by watching patrons get excited with each new find, I too get excited about the work I have the privilege to do at SCARC.  

Because Gil’s daughter works on campus, she was able to come visit.  It’s always amazing to meet the donors of collections we have the opportunity to work with here at SCARC.  These donors are often the family members or friends who had the honor of knowing the person while they were still alive and can add so much personality to the pieces of paper we collect together in folders and boxes.  It is even more so when the donors are relatives and share a deep understanding and appreciation for archives. Gil’s daughter was SO excited about the collections we have and to hear how her dad’s papers fit in with our other collections.  

Zigler was a nuclear engineer specialized in reactor safety and monitoring.  The collection is comprised of items collected during his education at the United States Air Force’s Institute of Technology and career as a reactor diagnostic engineer, spanning from 1962-2014.  The collection includes scientific publications, reference materials, notes, and memorabilia from his career.  The collection highlights his expertise through his participation at the Three Mile Island reactor incident and documents he collected in that role.  Much of the collection addresses the field of reactor safety in its various applications and aspects.

The Zigler Papers have found a home among our other nuclear history and history of science collections and greatly enrich our holdings.  Zigler has an extensive chronology through newspaper clippings of the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, including his role to help shut down the damaged reactor unit.  The bulk of the items consist of articles and other published items by individuals, including Zigler, or organizations, like Babcock & Wilcox or the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

We are honored to announce this new collection on the fifth anniversary of Gil Zigler’s death, October 12, 2014.