AHC holiday scene, 1983

img0010.jpgConstruction workers put up a tree in a precarious place during the construction of the on campus hospital, circa 1983. The photograph is part of the University Hospitals Board of Governors records at the University Archives.


Thanks to several comments (see below), a more accurate description of the image is that of “topping out” the frame of the hospital. Although the photograph was taken between November and January, the tree is much more likely a representation of a long time tradition in building construction.


The photograph was taken on December 13, 1983.

Advisory committee meeting minutes

img0007.jpgDecember 19, 2007

MINUTES (Abridged)

In attendance: Dr. Frank Cerra, Elaine Challacombe, Sarah Evans, John Eyler, Jennifer Gunn, Margot Iverson (guest of Jennifer Gunn’s), Beth Kaplan, Erik Moore, and David Rhees

1. Reporting on project activities & accomplishments

As part of the project’s relationship with University Archives, monthly activity reports documenting collection surveys, accessions, processing, and faculty contacts will be submitted to Beth Kaplan, the university archivist. Erik will also send an electronic copy to Dr. Cerra and to the members of the advisory committee to help keep all parties informed on latest developments and materials collected.

2. Oral history component updates & discussion

Erik began the discussion on the oral history component by reviewing some of his research into the supplies and documentation needed in order to conduct a successful oral history project.

In regards to equipment, the preferred method of recording will be with a video camera and external microphone. It will be necessary to purchase or rent a “broadcast” quality camera, meaning an equivalent to video that is produced for television footage.

Another important area to budget for will be transcription services for all recorded interviews. A well-edited transcription will serve as the primary access point for researchers interested in using the oral histories. Transcription services are approximately $20 per hour. Plan to budget for 4-5 hours of transcription per recorded hour of interview for a total of $100 per recorded hour.

Erik, Prof. Eyler and Dr. Cerra have all been in touch with DJ about the possibility of being part of the oral history project. He has expressed his interest but is unsure of how much time he is willing/able to commit. The discussion then turned to the possibility of having multiple interviewers. DJ could begin the project as a consultant and then perhaps a full-time person can be brought on board to continue his work. Dr. Cerra asked Prof. Gunn and Prof. Eyler to help determine what a job description for that kind of person would look like and what would be needed to budget for such a position.

Next the discussion focused on the need for IRB approval and the need for consent. Oral history projects at the University of Minnesota generally require IRB approval and can usually be considered as expedited reviews. IRB reviews are required for video and voice recordings as well as for interviews with people in a protected class, in this case some of the interviews will be with people considered to be a part of an elderly population. Dr. Cerra suggested it would be best to follow up with MK to better understand the full requirements. Dr. Cerra expressed the need for consent forms for each of the interviews and believed the IRB or AHC Counsel would be able to provide assistance. David Rhees noted that we need to be sure to have all copyrights signed over in the consent form.

The final aspect of this discussion centered on how to actually start the process. First, the creation of a time line of AHC history would help inform an interviewer. A list of potential people to interview would also help shape the project. Finally, a draft of questions would be helpful, although the questions cannot be finalized until the interviewer(s) is known and has his/her input. It was also suggested that it might be helpful to interview a group of people together and allow their conversation to help guide the direction and focus for the oral history project.

3. Update on speaker event/AHC Archives Project event with Gretchen Krueger discussing B.J. Kennedy

A speaker event with Gretchen Krueger is planned for February 28, 2007 from 4:30-5;00 pm in the Mayo Memorial Auditorium. The topic will be on the history of oncology at the University and the work of Dr. B.J. Kennedy. The speaker event will also act as a means to kick-off the AHC Archives Project and make others aware of the project across the AHC.

4. How to make others (AHC faculty, staff, archivists, etc.) aware of the project?

Erik is keeping a project blog: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/moore144/ahcarchives/. This is intended to help disseminate information about the project. It is also a means to document the creation of the archives and allow transparency for the process. This will soon be linked to the University Archives web site and can also be linked to the AHC web site (homepage?).

Other means of informing people about project activities might include a weekly update in the AHC News Capsules and possibly a small article or write up in the publication Pictures of Health. The University Archives will soon be featured on the University’s homepage and can include language that draws attention to the project.

Next meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 22, 2007, 8:30-9:30 am

The brothers Mayo revisited

img0008.jpg img0009.jpgI have been able to track down more information regarding the two portraits of the Mayo brothers, Charles (left) and William (right), which were removed from the Mayo Memorial Auditorium during its renovation. The artist is Minerva Lyons Eisenberg who was born in Newcastle-on-the-Tyne, England and was married to Martin Eisenberg. At the time the paintings were done they lived in Minneapolis. Mr. Eisenberg either owned or operated Billy & Marty’s Tobacconists in downtown Minneapolis. My early assumption that the artist might be related to the Mayo Clinic benefactor George M. Eisenberg seems to be unfounded.

The two paintings were part of a larger exhibit of forty-seven world leaders the artist put together. The exhibit was shown at the Southdale Center, Edina MN during a Brotherhood Week celebration during the 1970s. Minerva Eisenberg wrote to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN to inquire if there was an interest in purchasing the two portraits. The Mayo declined in 1979.

As yet, I have not been able to determine when the portraits came to the University and whether or not the portraits were donated or purchased. There is no record of the paintings in a listing of public art on campus. There is also no other information on the artist. The Getty’s union list of artists and AskArt.com do not reference her.

Hopefully this will not be the final word on the portraits. I am still optimistic that I can find some documentation on their acquisition by the University. I would also like to thank the individuals at Mayo Historical Archives, Weisman Art Museum, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts who have been so helpful in tracking down what little information there is.

Minnesota Veterinary Historical Museum

books in the MVHM collectionLast night I attended the board meeting for the Minnesota Veterinary Historical Museum. The museum is located on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota and contains a range of materials from books, to surgical instruments, to giant petrified hairballs.

It was an opportunity for me to discuss the archives project and connect with the board members, many of whom are former faculty of the College of Veterinary Medicine. They invited me to attend future meetings and I offered a tour of the archives in return. Notable board members include Dr. Walter Mackey, a member of the first entering class of 1947, and Dr. Bee Hanlon, one of the first two women to enter the program in 1948. Both later became faculty members at the College.

Ideally, this connection will allow the MVHM and the archives project to help each other. If I locate materials more suited for a museum collection, I will be able to pass them along. In the same manner, I can help them better identify material that is appropriate for the archives to manage and arrange for acquisition or transfer.

The brothers Mayo

collect005.jpgWhen I came back from lunch today, these two portraits were sitting in my office. They are of Dr. Charles and Dr. William Mayo (respectively). Their portraits have graced the entry into the Mayo Memorial Auditorium for years, but now due to its ongoing renovation they have been removed. Little is known about the portraits, the artist, or their donation (purchase?) to/by the University.

The artist’s signature reads: Minerva Lyons Eisenberg.

I look forward to learning more about my new office mates. I’ll update with what I find.

Updates on recent acquisitions

School of Nursing records, supplement
Eight more boxes have arrived from the Dean’s office bringing the total to 14 linear feet. It is all in need of reboxing and some foldering. There are perhaps a few more boxes to go. I’ve begun looking through the materials and have reboxed the first box and some of the second.

Board of Governors records
I finally had a chance to pull the previously accessioned material. It was half a linear foot and contains only material from 1984-1985. This is the final period of the construction of the hospital and most of the material is related to this event. Now I will be able to go through the recent BoG acquisition to see if these same materials are duplicated or if they are unique.

John Arnold papers
I received a small package containing a few folders of material related to Dr. John Arnold (retired) a former faculty member of the College of Veterinary Medicine and head of the Department of Veterinary Surgery and Radiology. Along with materials related to his leadership position in the College there is some information regarding his work with Seoul National University and veterinary programs in Iran during the 1970s.

School of Nursing records, supplement

collect004.jpgThe School of Nursing recently transferred a collection of administrative and programming records to University Archives. These materials will be added to the existing School of Nursing collection.

The records include files and correspondence from the two previous deans, Sandra Edwardson (1991-2004) and Ellen Fahy (1980-1990). Other administrative records include credentialing, grant reporting, and the proposal for establishing a Ph.D. program. Also included are files for the block nurse program, the Community-University Health Care Center (CUHCC), and work related to the Center for American Indians and GLBT Studies. In addition, materials related to the alumni association and the School of Nursing Diamond Jubilee (1984) are part of this transfer.

The collection is approximately 6 linear feet at its acquisition. The boxes are all labeled with content information at the folder level. The material is in good condition although it will need to be reboxed and hanging file folders removed. Further accruals are expected.

I’d like to commend the School of Nursing for taking a proactive approach to securing a permanent home for its records. The current dean, Connie Delaney, is a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics and is a past faculty member of the School of Library Science at the University of Iowa, so she understands the importance of preserving and using information.

Losing memory

I’ve often commented that archival work is a morbid profession. I think this every time I see work study students combing the obituaries for a notice to close out a clippings file or contact information for the next of kin as a collection lead.

Yet, there is another type of loss we deal with from time to time and it is a less than funny matter. Even though a person may not be nearing the end of their life, they may be nearing the end of their memory. Memory loss in a donor can be a confusing and difficult area for the archivist to navigate. Repeating conversations during each contact while knowing the donor is becoming less aware of the ultimate purpose of the discussion is an area we are not equipped through our training to handle. It also becomes an ethical issue. The archivist needs to be able to determine when a donor is no longer able to consent to the depositing of their materials and whether or not we should proceed with the acquisition until ownership and transfer issues are resolved.

I’d suggest we need to look to the literature on aging in the medical and social work fields to understand how we can best react to the changing needs of those we are trying to document.

Faculty paper guidelines

Apparently, I’m not the only one who finds it difficult to accurately communicate to faculty what the archives would be interested in collecting from their personal papers.

The archivist at Harvard University recently published a series of guidelines to better assist the faculty in organizing and transferring their papers to the archives. It explains how to differentiate between personal and professional materials from university records, provides brief guidelines on what information may be considered confidential due to federal regulations, and gives helpful hints on ways to organize the material.

Although it is tailor made for Harvard’s academic community, the guidelines provide a great starting point for any university archives and can be used as a way to help shape a conversation with potential faculty donors.

Archivists talk funny

I’ve always been somewhat fascinated with the terminology used in archives and the inherent problems and contradictions it can cause when those same terms are crossed with another field or discipline. Of personal interest are such terms as “preservation�? and “conservation�? and how these terms have very practical applications in archival work and also have implications in archival theory. Comparing and contrasting these definitions with their use in environmental protection sets up archives as a single field among many interested in the long-term use and access to rare and unique resources. That, however, can be the topic of a different post.

The Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology addresses these issues of archival lexicon in an introductory essay. Yet, the reality can sometimes become all too apparent when the words used and the confusion over their definitions means a loss to the archival record.

Today, I’d like to address the term “papers.�?

The Glossary provides these definitions for words that are at times used interchangeably.

Papers: 1. A collection. – 2. A collection of personal or family documents; personal papers. – 3. Government • Records indicating an individual’s identity or status.

Personal papers: 1. Documents created, acquired, or received by an individual in the course of his or her affairs and preserved in their original order (if such order exists). – 2. Nonofficial documents kept by an individual at a place of work.

Manuscript: 1. A handwritten document. – 2. An unpublished document. – 3. An author’s draft of a book, article, or other work submitted for publication.

When trying to collect the papers of those in higher education, I believe archivists are competing with terminology already ingrained in the population by the publishing world. Paper equals article. Manuscript equals a pre-publication work.

Why the interest in papers? Today I learned that nearly 12 boxes of correspondence and related work materials for a prominent individual in the veterinary sciences were recently destroyed (this is unrelated to another recent loss in the vet sciences). In this specific case, it was believed that papers referred to the published work of the individual. A reasonable interpretation given the publishing environment academics work in. Is “personal papers�? that much more clear? Not likely. Manuscripts? Again, the connection to publication is forefront with most.

So, the education continues. Both for the community I am collecting from on what archives are as well as for myself on how that community perceives the work we do.