Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Week 15: Par for the Course

The second week at the MCLM was another wild card. Members of the documentary film crew for the Joyce Ann Gaines Story (http://jagthedoc.com/) were here scanning photographs and filming interviews in the courtroom. They asked Cara to sign a contract that relinquished the rights of the museum in any future uses of the materials. With our staff being reduced to just myself and Cara, it was difficult to reach a consensus on the validity of the contract. I was able to scan it and send it over to the toughest lawyer that I know, Julieanna Richardson. We are hoping that she can give us some feedback that will allow us to support the efforts of the documentary and permit the museum to gain some profit from its resources. 

I also looked up the Carnegie-Whitney Award which grants $5,000 to institutions providing access to library materials. I noticed that previous winners included Susan Irwin’s Sacks Collection at the Arizona Historical Society, Dana Braccia’s community authors’ initiative at the Scottsdale Public Library and Teresa Welsh’s bibliography of Disaster Preparation at the University of Southern Mississippi. These are all diverse people and organizations that I have worked with in the past. The application is due on November 2, 2012, and I think that we may be able to justify a use of the funds to provide supplies for accessing Mayme’s book collection.

My biggest project is the continuous processing of the Mayme A. Clayton Papers. In two weeks, I have gone through 20 boxes, and established five distinct series; Western States Black Research Association, Black American Cinema Society, Third World Ethnic Books, Personal Papers, and Outreach. The most challenging section has to be her personal papers. Scraps of paper, note pads filled with phone numbers, and antiquated rolodexes are elements of this section. I’m not sure what value they will have to researchers, but I am keeping them all, just in case.

A member from the museum’s board of directors has asked me to keep a look out for anything related to Dr. Clayton’s correspondence with Tiger Woods. For about 20 years, Dr. Clayton and her affiliated organizations sponsored a golf tournament in southern California. I have found some Tiger Woods ads from magazines and his name listed among other celebrities that she intended to contact, but nothing from the man, himself. I think that there may be more information on Tiger Woods as I sift further into the collection.
Other snags include a shortage of boxes and folders. I am forced to only folder items when the stacks become too overwhelming. Next week, I am planning to scavenge through the supply closets and think creatively about sound archival alternatives for re-housing the materials.

My days are usually broken up by visits from volunteers who want to chat, watching the phones while Cara is at lunch, and any groups that are renting the space. We hosted the monthly meeting of the California African American Genealogical Society on Saturday. I introduced myself towards the end of the session and they surprised me with a wide variety of follow up questions. They wanted to know about the HistoryMakers, the fellowship, where I had worked and what I had been doing in the museum so far. Many of them were traveling all over the country to research their families, so I did not hesitate to share my connection to archives in Phoenix, Chicago, Charleston, Nashville and Annapolis. They also wanted to know if I would be presenting my genealogy at their next meeting. I said that it would be hard considering that I have never worked on mine, so their disapproving looks may be the impetus that I need to get going on that project. I also found out that Alyss had worked with them on organizing a collection that they are donating to the museum, and I was expected to pick up where she left off. I am looking forward to catching up to speed on that project and working with this group in the future.       

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