In the Udall Foundation’s enabling legislation, Congress directs that the Foundation will provide funding to maintain a “repository for Morris K. Udall’s papers and other such public papers as may be appropriate and assure such papers’ availability to the public.” The University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections uses this funding for several Graduate Assistants who work on the Udall Archives as well as other congressional collections.
Vanessa Nava, Graduate Assistant, University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections
My name is Vanessa Nava, and I worked as a Graduate Assistant for University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections from fall 2015 until spring 2016. As a graduate student in the University of Arizona School of Information, I was thrilled to have this opportunity. Working in Special Collections, I developed an archival skill set that will benefit me greatly: organizing and processing archival collections, creating and encoding archival collection finding aids for use online, digitizing photographic collections for a digital collections website, and curation of an archival exhibit. Upon graduation, I plan to use this training and work in the library field as an archivist.
This year, I learned about archives in general, but also specifically about the uniqueness of archives of members of Congress. Through my work with congressional collections, I learned about the legacies of Morris Udall and Stewart Udall, including their commitment to environmental conservation and their work on Native American initiatives. Working with congressional collections taught me about the legislative process and the enduring achievements of Morris Udall and Stewart Udall. By answering reference questions posed by researchers, I was able to see how their work continues on in research that drives the policies of the present. In addition, I was able to contribute to an assessment project on the use of materials in the Morris Udall and Stewart Udall collections. Working with a project librarian, we determined that Morris and Stewart Udall’s archival collections are two of the most used materials in Special Collections’ repository.
My knowledge of archival work was enhanced by my experiences in Special Collections, and I relished the opportunity to broaden my understanding of archives and archival practices.