Jack Robichau reflects on his experience as an Archives Assistant

Guest post by Jack Robichau, Archives Assistant in University Archives and Special Collections

A nineteenth-century bound volume tied with archival string sits on a wooden table with a green desk lamp.

Healey Library’s Archives Research Room. Photo courtesy of Jack Robichau.

When I was a student looking for positions around campus, I came across a role in the Archives Research Room and thought it sounded really interesting. Since working with everyone in the University Archives and Special Collections, I have gained a whole new perspective and appreciation for the work that everyone does here. As a student, I had been in the Healey Library many times before but didn’t really know much about the Archives.

Since I was not coming from an archival background and most of what I would be doing was all new to me, I didn’t really know what to expect coming in. When I saw an opening for a position in the Research Room, I was picturing something like out of a movie with old documents scattered everywhere. But as I started to learn more about why archives exist, how materials are processed and preserved, and everything that goes into archival work, I learned a lot more than I was expecting. As an Archives Assistant, I helped with the daily operations of the Research Room as well as ongoing and long-term projects related to the Archives.

One such project is the Mass. Memories Road Show, which I was lucky enough to attend in person on occasion as well as contributing to the processing and data entry to help put the Road Show’s contents on our digital collections website. I got to sit down and hear stories and look at amazing photographs and documents while speaking to people I’d never get a chance to meet otherwise. In the “Show ‘Em Whatcha Got” hip-hop Road Show about the history of rap and hip-hop in Boston, I got to hear people’s stories about a past moment in Boston’s history and see people reminiscing and sharing their memories. Seeing everyone coming in with photographs, flyers, CDs, vinyl records, t-shirts, and everything else people brought in was so rewarding and I’m thankful I got the opportunity to experience it.

I would like to thank everyone in the Archives team for all the work you’ve done and the help you have given along the way. I gained a whole new perspective on the importance of archival work and saw the commitment and passion for preserving special collections, donations, and unique one-of-a-kind materials from everyone here and that’s something special to experience. I’m going to miss my work here, and although I am graduating and moving onto other things, I’m leaving here with plenty of takeaways and experiences I’ll always cherish.

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston collects materials related to the university’s history, as well as materials that reflect the institution’s urban mission and strong support of community service, notably in collections of records of urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, and local history related to neighboring communities.

University Archives & Special Collections welcomes inquiries from individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in donating materials of an archival nature that that fit within our collecting policy. These include manuscripts, documents, organizational archives, collections of photographs, unique publications, and audio and video media. For more information about donating to University Archives & Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

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