An Intern’s Perspective on Archives and Processing

Portrait of Mary Rayford Collins, 1912.

Portrait of Mary Rayford Collins, 1912.

My name is Madeline Goebel and I am a junior at Tulane University who is volunteering at the Amistad Research Center this summer. Though I am halfway through my undergraduate education at Tulane, I had not set foot in the Amistad Research Center until I began my search for a summer occupation that would be both interesting to me as a history major and beneficial to the New Orleans community. I am so glad I was given the opportunity to assist the archival staff of the Amistad Research Center, an experience that has thus far met those criteria and proved to exceed my expectations.

Portrait of Malachi C. Collins, 1909.

Portrait of Malachi C. Collins, 1909.

After learning how to process and preserve a collection, I was put in charge of the Collins Family papers. The Collins, a family of African American farmers and landowners, lived in Mississippi during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Malachi Collins owned and operated the first black-owned funeral home and insurance company in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. His wife, Mary, served as the first African American librarian for the Andrew Carnegie Public Library. Their papers consist of correspondence, journals, collected items, and photographs of Mary, Malachi, his sister Sophronia Collins Easley, and other family members. Processing the Collins Family papers has given me the opportunity to closely examine documents and photographs that I would not have come across otherwise. I enjoyed reading Sophronia’s correspondence with her brother and husband. In doing so I learned about their daily lives, their religious beliefs and practices, and their personalities.

Upon finishing processing the Collins Family papers, I must say that I was both happy with and proud of the work I completed. I hope the collection will be of great use to future visitors of the Amistad Research Center. I now approach my next collection, the papers of Dr. Henry E. Braden III, with excitement, enthusiasm, and little bit of experience.

Portrait of Sophronia Ann Collins, circa 1890-1900.

Portrait of Sophronia Ann Collins, circa 1890-1900.

Post by Madeline Goebel.

Madeline Goebel was able to process the Collins Family papers through a grant from the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation. The Center thanks the Foundation for their support.

Images from the Collins Family Papers. Not to be reproduced without permission.

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