Tuesday, March 5th, 2019...6:30 am

All Work but Some Play: Jaret Berman, Houghton Library, and the School-to-Work Program

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By Vicki Denby, Manuscript End Processor, Houghton Library

Cambridge Rindge and Latin student, Jaret Berman, helps create a custom folder for a scrapbook.

Cambridge Rindge and Latin student, Jaret Berman, helps create a custom folder for a scrapbook.

For the sixth consecutive year, Houghton Library had the opportunity to hire a paid intern from the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School (CRLS) to learn about our work by helping with collections end-processing, which among other activities includes labeling and housing items. Through the School-to-Work program, the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW) coordinates with the Cambridge Office of Workforce Development, Harvard schools and departments, and Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School to provide job training as well as learning opportunities for high school students.

Joie Gelband of HUCTW helps select students to work in departments for three afternoons a week as paid interns. Each student has a supervisor who is an HUCTW member. The supervisor gives the student an overview of the work and specific assignments. They explain how the student’s work fits in to the mission of the department, and check in regularly with updates and feedback.

This past year, we had the pleasure of working with Jaret Berman, then a junior at CRLS. Jaret labeled, barcoded and packed over 75 boxes of folders containing manuscript material, many of which were from a large collection of Gore Vidal papers (MS Am 2350) that are being stored offsite at the Harvard Depository. He measured, constructed, and labeled over 200 custom boxes to house bound manuscripts and printed books. He also helped with some basic conservation activities, including transferring photographs into protective archival sleeves.

Photographs from the Florence Milner papers on Lewis Carroll that had been in a small envelope before Jaret put them into protective sleeves.

Photographs from the Florence Milner papers on Lewis Carroll, circa 1860s-1930s (MS Eng 1820: box 1, folder 18) that had been in a small envelope before Jaret put them into protective sleeves.

The photographs and the rest of the papers all go into archival folders and are labeled using an automated “script” from our cataloging software, ArchivesSpace. Jaret learned to use ArchivesSpace and other new programs to help add to and edit item records in our collections.

One of the first things Jaret worked on was a collection that included this scrapbook, History of the Cambridge High School, 1847-1854, which began in a new building erected at the corner of Amory and Summer streets” in 1848. This raised the question of whether it was connected with the early history of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School at 459 Broadway. The collection includes the dedication of the school and a class schedule or “Order of Exercises” for the years 1881-1882.

Jaret also discovered a photograph of Nikita Khruschev looking at melons during a good-will mission to France.


A photo of Nikita Kruschev looking at melons.

Black and white photograph, ca. 1955-1960. José María Castañé collection of Sergei Smirnov photographs, circa 1944-1999 (bMS Russ 136).

Among the boxes Jaret labeled was one that contained an unusual item. At first it was hard to tell what it was, but inside was an interesting image:

Two views of an iron-reinforced wooden chest that contains a fifteenth-century French coffret.

In addition to the above collections, Jaret also worked on:

Autograph file & Catchall (additions)

John Lowell papers, 1765-1798  (MS Am 3124)

Stephen B. Fassett correspondence  (MS Am 3133)

Langdon Warner papers, 1900-1959 (MS Am 3138)

Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library pulp fiction collection, circa 1900-1970s  (MS Am 3136)

Patrick Putnam papers, circa 1920s-1950s  (MS Am 3144)

Lowell family papers, 1836-1928  (MS Am 3166)

Woodberry Poetry Room records, circa 1827-2009  (MS Am 3170)

Besides working at Houghton, Jaret attended program seminars once a week, where HUCTW Organizer and Coordinator Joie Gelband engaged participants in discussions, case studies, games, and exercises designed to teach students about the workplace. Sessions included topics such as customer service, resume writing, email etiquette, professional reputation, workplace discrimination, transferable skills, and child labor.

Luckily for us, after Jaret’s internship was over, he chose to keep working at Houghton over the summer in the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). He had participated in both the STW and SYEP programs previously in other workplaces at Harvard.

Jaret says, “I had a great experience at Houghton. It was humbling to see the personal letters and belongings of people like Theodore Roosevelt and Gore Vidal. It made me feel that these individuals were more than just towering, influential figures: they were regular people, too. It was intriguing to go behind the scenes at a library. I was surprised to see the amount of work that goes into making materials available for readers. Getting to be a part of that process was personally rewarding.”

Jaret has been very conscientious, both at school and at work—something we can really appreciate. This year, as a senior, he is quite busy with a heavy load of school activities and his college search. The things I will remember most are Jaret’s love of music (he plays clarinet), and his playful response when asked to test our printer:

A picture of a cat that Jaret printed when asked to test the printer.

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