Monthly Archives: January 2016

My MAPH Internship Experience — Newberry Library, by Ikumi Crocoll

A Summer at the Newberry

Ikumi Crocoll

I had been looking forward to the summer internships since I started MAPH. There are, of course, many amazing organizations to work with, but, as someone with a previous library degree, I had my eye on the Newberry Library from the start. My summer experience there did not disappoint and was fulfilling in unexpected ways.

NewberryI worked specifically with the archives at the Newberry. While I had done some prior coursework and volunteering in archives, I did not have a great deal of processing experience (basically, arranging and describing papers and records in an archival setting), something pretty important if one wants to become an archivist (while I am still exploring career options, this is one of them). Most of my work at the Newberry revolved around processing two Midwestern collections: the William Edward Parsons Papers and the Elbert Ozial Taylor Papers.

Parsons was a Chicago architect, who specialized in city planning. He worked on plans for cities from Detroit to Manila. You might also recognize his work in Grant Park’s Buckingham Fountain. Elbert Ozial Taylor, on the other hand, was a minister who became a national temperance lecturer. He was also a graduate of the University of Chicago. Unfortunately, most of the materials do not deal with the sins of alcohol, but they do give a sense of how Taylor thought through his sermons and perhaps a key to his philosophical and spiritual origins prior to his prohibitionist calling. Working with these collections gave me historical insight into figures, time periods, areas, and vocations of which I had little knowledge, especially revealing some facets of the Midwest in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Deciding how to organize items (knowing that there is not just one way!) proved challenging, and the entire process of getting a collection ready for public consumption often took a long time. However, I felt excited and proud to see the final products of my efforts: the papers neatly organized and labeled and a finding aid available online so that people could start requesting the documents immediately.

IkumiOne of the aspects I appreciated the most about this internship – in addition to the experience of working at such a prestigious library, of course – was the amazing people with whom I had the opportunity to work. Right from the interview, I knew that the staff were warm, funny, friendly people. They helped me in terms of my daily tasks and by giving me career advice. Furthermore, they have allowed me to stay on as a volunteer since the summer ended and have continued to be incredibly supportive of my endeavors to get a job in libraries/archives. I also had the privilege of working with one other MAPH person and a few other grad students, a lovely group of people with whom I could discuss work or enjoy gelato. These are people I still consider friends.

Naturally, there are many perks to working at a great library like the Newberry, and I would feel strange not at least mentioning some of those that one might expect. Toward the end of the summer, we (the archives interns) were taken to the vault to see (and touch!) some of the rarest and most valuable items that the Newberry owns. Highlights included an Oscar (I did get a picture holding it), a signed Chopin piece, a Thomas Jefferson letter, and a Shakespeare first folio. There were also various sessions designed just for interns on getting to know the Newberry’s resources, as well as weekly colloquia that we were encourage to attend, during which various scholars and librarians would present some aspect of research based on the resources they had found at the Newberry. Basically, we had the opportunity to see how incredible the Newberry is for humanities work.

As I mentioned before, not all was fun and games; processing, in particular, could take a great deal of work and patience. Sometimes you had to label and stamp hundreds of folders; sometimes you had to sort through many, many photographs without really knowing the subjects. The list of time-consuming tasks could continue on and on. Yet this was also an internship that exposed me to the Newberry’s approach to archival processing (both similar and not entirely the same to what I had experienced elsewhere), interesting historical documents, thought-provoking research, wonderful people, and, of course, a stand-out humanities library. I am exceedingly grateful for this. And yes, still hopeful that this work will somehow help me find a job.

Michael Robbins’ Poetry Reviewed in n+1

Michael Robbins, whose poetry has appeared in the New Yorker, PoetryHarper’s, and Boston Review among other places, graduated from MAPH in 2004.  His MAPH thesis focused on lyric subjectivity after language poetry. He has since earned a PhD in English from UChicago, published two books, and published critical articles and continues to teach creative writing.

Frank Guam just reviewed Michael’s work for n+1 magazine, which you can check out here: https://nplusonemag.com/online-only/book-review/ride-the-lightening/ The review provides insight into both Michael’s journey to where he is now as a poet as well as his poetry itself.

Congrats on your successes, Michael, and keep up the good work!

My MAPH Internship Experience — MAKE Literary Magazine, by Alessandra Stamper

Last summer, Alessandra Stamper (MAPH ’15) interned at MAKE Literary Magazine. Here’s her insight into working for a small, creative non-profit, and the perks that came with the job!

Alessandra writes:

Interning for MAKE Literary Magazine has given me an insight into the local, independent literary community in Chicago. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know too much about it before working for them, and am thus very grateful that I got the position. Not only did I learn about the literary community in Chicago, I also learned about what it’s like to work for a non-profit. I had worked for non-profits before, but on a larger scale. MAKE, although prominent, is comprised of a small staff, so for me it was interesting to see how such a small staff can put together such a splendid product. The two people I worked with were very intellectually curious, which made it a pleasant working relationship; not to mention fun, as my interview took place at a coffee shop in Logan Square, I got to hang out with them at Pitchfork Music Festival (for free!), and our subsequent meetings were at cool restaurants in Logan Square.

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MAKE’s booth at Pitchfork music festival in summer 2015

My primary duty was to post stories from previous issues on the website. Ideally these posts tied in with the theme of the upcoming issue, which is Archive. I felt like my input was valued, as I was able to suggest which stories I thought we should post. Once a story was decided upon, I copy edited the electronic version with the paper issue and entered it into the WordPress website. I also uploaded pictures and reached out to the author and or artist for updated bios to include in the post. I was responsible for creating content for the social media posts to advertise the web posts, which included Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. For the Instagram, I also took pictures around the city and paired them with a few lines from a poem or work of fiction or nonfiction from an issue, which was a really fun, creative project.

The content that I worked with was interesting, which was great for me because I felt like my intellectual curiosity from graduate school carried over in to the internship. This is a perfect internship for those interested in working in the magazine or literary world, but it’s also really fun and interesting even if that’s not necessarily a desired career path.

Current MAPHers can see the list of internships available this summer here.