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Transforming Special Collections at Smith

Researcher in Special Collections

Over the next three years, the Access to Collections project team has set an ambitious goal: to provide open access to all collections and rare books through publishing finding aids, improved and new catalog records, building new technical infrastructure, processing collections, digitizing at-risk and hard-to-use materials, and publishing digital files.

To enable this transformational project, lead by Director Beth Myers and Head of Technical Services Christie Peterson, Special Collections welcomed five term professionals from across the country. These new staff bring extraordinary expertise and experience. They will guide and shape the project, working together in short-term sprints to achieve specific goals that work toward longer term deliverables.   

By the time Special Collections moves into the new Neilson Library in fall of 2020, the team will be able to provide unprecedented access to Smith’s world-class collections in the College Archives, Mortimer Rare Book Collection, and Sophia Smith Collection of Women’s History in an inspiring space--a monument to learning and beauty.

Let’s meet the A2C team!

Daniel MichelsonDan Michelson, Project Manager Archivist

Dan is responsible for leading the Access to Collections (A2C) project to improve and standardize access to the extensive holdings of Smith College Special Collections. Originally from the Boston area, Dan graduated from Hampshire College with a major in History. He received an M.A. in Archives from New York University. His first position at Michigan Tech University took him from New York City to the snowiest campus in the country, where he processed mining company records. Next, Dan organized the records of the RCA labs at the Hagley Museum & Library in Wilmington, DE. At the completion of that project, Dan moved to the Union College Special Collections and Archives in Schenectady, NY, where his work with collections was quite similar to the work he is managing for Smith College Special Collections.

Ellice AmannaEllice Amanna, Archives Specialist

After an early first career in politics and media, Ellice began working for Smith College Special Collections as an Ada Comstock Scholar in the Archives Concentration where she assisted in processing the papers of activist-scholar Guida West. She later used West’s work with the National Welfare Rights Organization to frame her capstone project, which borrowed its title -- "The War Against Poor Women is a War Against All Women" -- from a nationwide campaign to educate professional, elite women about their personal stake in combating attacks on welfare mothers. Ellices’ knowledge of the collections is helpful in creating new and improved metadata for the collections, which is crucial in the discovery of materials by researchers.

Sylvia HickmanSylvia Hickman, Mellon Post-Baccalaureate Fellow

Sylvia graduated from Amherst College, where she majored in American Studies and worked in their special collections. She remembers first falling under the sway of history when she discovered primary sources in high school through a collection of oral histories. In college, material culture and art history drew her attention. Since joining SCSC in early August, Sylvia has learned that the VHS tapes she watched as a kid are only the tip of the analog audiovisual iceberg, and she's excited to help preserve and learn more about Smith's A/V collections as part of the A2C team. Sylvia has already updated SCSC’s disaster preparedness plans and outfitted new disaster kits to support those plans.

Abigail ConnickAbigail Connick, Rare Books Technical Services Librarian

Abigail Connick, from Salida, California, drove cross-country this summer to join the A2C team. Abigail earned an M.S.L.I.S. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign after completing a B.A. in History and English, Concordia University, Nebraska. She then served as a Special Collections and Technical Services Specialist at California State University Stanislaus. As the Rare Books Technical Services Librarian for the A2C team, Abigail gets to investigate delicate bindings, ancient type, and one of kind art books daily. She works to accession new rare books materials, as well as reimagine workflows, material documentation, and management of rare books.

Scott BiddleScott Biddle, Archives Specialist

Scott has been with SCSC since 2016, first helping to ensure a smooth transition during the move to Young and now applying records management practices to College Archives materials. His past includes tour directing in Europe, film editing in Hollywood, construction in Boulder, document management in New York City, and stay-at-home fathering in Northampton, MA. Scott has been focused on records management in the College Archives for nearly a year, which has been folded into the Access to Collections project as the other members of the team join him in expanding access and improving description to the College Archives materials.

Madison WhiteMadison (Maddie) White, Processing Archivist

After being born in Durango Colorado, Maddie and her family lived in Fiji, Australia, South Africa, and Thailand, moving frequently for her father’s work with Habitat for Humanity. She returned to the US in time to finish high school in Minnesota and then attend Smith College. At Smith, she found the archives concentration--just the right mix of conservation, history, and museum work for her. She became a student worker in Special Collections, where she assisted in processing the papers of faculty and students. After graduating from Smith, Maddie pursued an M.S.L.I.S. degree in Archival Management at Simmons College. Now that she is back in Northampton, she has been updating finding aids and conducting collection surveys.

Claire MarshallClaire Marshall, Metadata Migration Archivist

Claire grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and attended Sarah Lawrence in Bronxville, New York, majoring in history and Italian. After graduating, she earned a Master’s degree in early modern history at Marquette University. Next, she attended the School of Information at the University of Michigan, where she earned an MSI (Master of Science Information), specializing in the preservation of information, with a focus on how to collect, store, and make ethically accessible born-digital materials. Claire’s role in the A2C project is to help migrate decades of collection information into new systems for better collection management and discovery. She also helps with new systems support and development.


Christie Peterson