Written by on February 21, 2014

A century’s-worth of family history

Derrick Usher is a communication studies major (Fall ’14) completing an internship in Special Collections and Archives. He is working on a project to organize the papers of the Jack Family of San Luis Obispo.

This is the first in a series of blog posts in which he shares his experiences processing the Jack Family Papers and some of the stories that he uncovers.

Before transferring to Cal Poly I befriended a few librarians, whose careers were so intriguing that I was determined to learn more.  After a short  investigation, I was convinced to obtain a Masters in Library and Information Science and pursue a respective career.

In order to explore the library positions that are available at Cal Poly, I met with Brett Bodemer, the College of Liberal Arts Librarian at the Kennedy Library. In less than two weeks’ time Brett found me an internship at the Kennedy Library, in the Special Collections and Archives department.

My newly acquired duties include creating an inventory of The Jack Family Papers, a collection of personal papers and business records belonging to one of the most historically significant families of the California central coast.  I will also digitize selections from the collection and develop a communication strategy for publicizing the collection.

It seems evident that this position will afford me a greater understanding of processing and organizing information in an archives. Most importantly, this position provides me with the experience needed to decide on the emphasis of my future masters program. And the icing on the cake: I get to investigate the Jack family papers in terms of a namesake of the central coast, as well as a family unit.


An example of a personal document found in the Jack Family Papers (Jack Family Papers, Special Collections, California Polytechnic State University, 014_spc_000011)

I expect to encounter the advancement of the family’s prominence and how that was made possible by their support of one another. It will also be interesting to get a glimpse of life over the span of a century, and how it compares and contrasts with the way we live today. I sincerely hope that I do justice to the Jack name in organizing and exploring their documented life from 1860 to 1969.

Read more on cal poly, Jack Family, library internships, and special collections.

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