The summer of 2015 granted the CLIR Hidden Collections Pioneers of Wilderness Conservation project the special opportunity to host two Summer Research Fellows as embedded undergraduate researchers.  For 12 weeks we hosted two exceptional students from Union College:  Ben Mountain ’17 and Brittany Kenny ’16.  During their tenure with the  project Ben and Brittany had many new opportunities. They were able to explore archival collections for the first time, experience the “behind the scenes” process of making archival collections available, and expand their knowledge of local environmental activism.  Our goals for these students were for them to complete a series of scholarly essays for use in our upcoming website showcasing the Apperson papers.   Both Brittany and Ben came to the project with a commitment to academic excellence which shines through in the extraordinary research they compiled into a stunning 120 pages of material for the website.   Although you will still have to wait for the final product, we wanted to share our process of working with embedded undergraduate researchers through the summer:

Preparation

To prepare for the students arrival the team of the project completed a few tasks. The Project Archivist and the Digital Services team designed the framework for the website and digital exhibits. The Project Archivist and the Archives Processors compiled a list of major topics and themes in the Apperson papers.    These topics include a) Apperson’s major conservation struggles and successes, b) Apperson’s major impacts on outdoor recreation sports, c) broader themes of conservationism in the Adirondacks and Lake George region.

Week One

For Brittany and Ben’s first week with the project we began by spending the first day reviewing the concept of archives and the structure and rules of researching within archival collections.  For the rest of their first week Ben and Brittany researched the climate of environmental conservation during Apperson’s activist career while studying the finding aid and research guide created for the Apperson papers. During this week the CLIR team walked them through the framework of the upcoming website and walked Ben and Brittany through a few digital exhibits from other institutions to give them a more firm concept of our goals.

Week Two

By the time we reached our second week both Ben and Brittany were chomping at the bit to get started.  The Project Archivist met with the students to create the final framework and arrangement for the website topics. In this process we were careful to leave room for essays from the Paul Schaefer Collection to be inserted at a later date:

Whiteboard

We then divided the topics in half.  In discussion with Brittany and Ben, we created a schedule of draft deadlines.  This schedule assigned one draft per week to each student and left time for editing and revisions in the final weeks.

Weeks Three- Nine

Ben and Brittany established and maintained their own research and writing schedules.  Generally, Ben and Brittany spent 2 or 3 days researching in the Apperson papers, 1 day researching in Schaffer Library on campus, and 2 or 3 days writing.

Weeks Ten – Twelve

The final two weeks of Ben and Brittany’s work with the project were spent completing edits and revisions on their essays.

Today Brittany and Ben have left the project and are back to their lives as students. We at the CLIR project are editing their essays with a fine tooth comb, preparing them for release on our upcoming website.  Thank you again Ben and Brittany for your truly exceptional work this summer!  We at the CLIR project cannot wait to showcase Ben and Brittany’s research.  Stay tuned…