SVREP Collection: Spring Student Clerk Experience
This post was written by Meghan McCarthy, our student clerk for the SVREP Collection.
For the last few months, I have had the honor of helping archive some very rich and exciting history. When I first applied for the Student Clerk position with Special Collections in early December, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was taking a Women and Gender in Latin America class with Dr. Catherine Komisaruk when she sent me an email suggesting that the position was something I try for. I was very excited from the beginning, as I had loved the few times I had gotten to see materials in different classes from Special Collections and it was something I was considering for my future professional life as a history major. I had also previously worked as an Administrative Assistant at The Playhouse San Antonio and was fortunate enough to help them archive a lot of their documents and photographs there which I loved doing. When I got the email to attend an interview, I was so nervous, but upon arriving, the whole staff was so kind and engaging and it seemed like the type of place I would love to work. It wasn’t long after that I found out I received the job. I was thrilled! It isn’t often that someone gets a job that involves their field of study while they’re still in school, so I felt so grateful.
Showing up on my first day, I sat down with Leah and she gave me a rundown on what I would be doing here at Special Collections. Realizing the extent to which I would be working with the Southwest Voters and Willie Velasquez documents was incredible! I have been focusing broadly on Borderland Metropolitan history and more specifically San Antonio history and felt that this archival experience would be so invaluable to my studies. I also felt the pressure of really doing this right for researchers who would view and use these important documents in the future. To get started, I first did my own research on SVREP, as well as Willie Velasquez which gave me a greater sense of how to file the documents and who were the big names and what were the big events in SVREP’s history. I then began the filing process. The first boxes I went through were the boxes of newspapers. I certainly had underestimated the amount of newspapers I would be sorting through, but I loved the process. There were so many newspapers and even more newspaper clippings and I used two long tables to lay out and sort by publication and then by date. Finishing all of the newspaper boxes was so rewarding, but also a little sad, as I loved and would miss being able to stop every few papers to see an amazing headline from the early 1960s or 70s.
I have since filed magazines, SVREP and SVRI newsletters, and many SVREP publications and reports. Everyday that I am at work, I am getting to touch and view pieces of important history. This job had made me more knowledgeable, more patient, and it has even helped me with the writing of my undergraduate thesis. The archivists that I work with are amazing and what is being done here in Special Collections is truly awesome. Both Leah and Jenn have put a lot of faith in me and have let me do a lot of this filing myself, but are also always there when I have a question or need support. It has been the perfect environment to learn and grow in. History majors may know the archives well, but I believe any student in any major could benefit from a trip to the reading room to check out some of the rare pieces of history that reside here at UTSA. I can’t wait for these boxes of SVREP files to be a part of the pieces you can check out.
**This project is generously funded by the NHPRC**