By Vicki Denby, Manuscript-End Processor, Houghton Library
This summer, Houghton Library partnered with the City of Cambridge to hire a paid intern from the Summer Youth Employment Program (or SYEP), which offers work to high school students in both Cambridge and Boston.
Richard Chen, from the class of 2019 at Josiah Quincy Upper School in Boston, put in full work weeks for the Manuscript section of the Technical Services department between July 8 and August 6.
Arriving with previous experience ranging from Write Boston to teacher’s aide to Harvard Model U. N., Boston, Richard was an extremely hard worker. Outside of work, he took advantage of the resources in Harvard’s Widener Library to complete courses toward a teaching license, which he pursued with great success. His willingness to follow through on both short and long-term projects helped make our collections available to researchers from around the world.
One of the first collections he worked on, applying identifying labels to folders, was the Maria St. Just collection of Tennessee Williams papers, 1947-1984. Richard was familiar with this author, and asked if he could share an image of a letter from the collection with one of his former high school teachers.
Later, he assisted with labeling items in diverse collections such as correspondence from the Lyonel Feininger papers, 1883-1960, begun toward the end of his internship, to a wooden jigsaw puzzle (Circus block game, circa 1880) that had to be assembled so it could be housed appropriately.
Richard also worked on a container management project for two collections: the Woodberry Poetry Room collection of broadsides, circa 1914-1991 (MS Am 3190) and the Harvard Theatre Collection of playbills and programs from New York City theaters, circa 1800-1930 (TCS 65). He helped re-number shelf ranges in the stacks to conform with ArchivesSpace software, and input over 7000 authors and titles into software to make new ArchivesSpace-conforming labels for all boxed manuscript collections.
At college, Richard hopes to major in both history and English, with a minor in secondary education. He says, “My specific career goal is to become a high school history teacher. The Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL), which I am taking in the fall, will result in an initial licensure after student teaching in my senior year. I’m taking it early because I want to gain additional certifications like English or English as a Second Language (ESL) to allow me to stand out when I graduate.”
Richard had a specific interest in working at a library this summer. It is a trend we are starting to see in collaborating with the various programs at Harvard that assist high school students. Though the internship is meant to give youth experience that will help them pursue any career, we are excited at the prospect of being able to also tailor internships to those interested in exploring the library environment as a place to work.