Creating a Collection: Chaplaincy Services at the University of California, San Francisco

Featured

Introduction by Polina Ilieva:

After a four-year break, last semester the archives team hosted a History of Health Sciences course, the Anatomy of an Archive. This course was developed and co-taught by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Associate Professor, Aimee Medeiros and Associate University Librarian for Collections and UCSF Archivist, Polina Ilieva. Charlie Macquarie, Digital Archivist, facilitated the discussion on Digital Projects. Polina, Peggy Tran-Le, Research and Technical Services Managing Archivist, and Edith Escobedo, Processing Archivist, served as mentors for students’ processing projects throughout the duration of the course.

The goal of this course was to provide an overview of archival science with an emphasis on the theory, methodology, technologies and best practices of archival research, arrangement and description. The archivists put together a list of collections requiring processing and also corresponding to students’ research interests and each student selected one that they worked on with their mentor to arrange and create a finding aid. During this 11-week hybrid course students developed competencies related to researching and describing archival collections, as well as interpreting the historical record. At the conclusion of this course students wrote a story about their experiences highlighting collections they processed. In the next few weeks, we will be sharing these stories with you.

This week’s story comes from Alexzandria Simon, PhD student, UCSF Department of History & Social Sciences.

Post by Alexzandria Simon:

Having never stepped into any kind of archival space or discussion, I was excited to engage with, learn about, and understand what the archives are and mean. Now, after working with Polina Ilieva and Aimee Medeiros, at UCSF, I realize all the intricacies, time, and special attention that goes into the archival collection process. There are practices and standards that guide researchers and archivists, and emotions and ethics play a role in shaping collections and entire archives. The journey of processing a collection is time consuming, interdisciplinary, and sometimes messy. However, the craft of processing a collection allows individuals to discover new characters, information, and stories that take place during a different time and space.

            When I saw my collection for the first time, all I could think to myself was how small the collection is. I was surprised after seeing others, some that consisted of 5 boxes worth of documents, that the one I was planning to work on could be confined to one file. I could not begin to comprehend how the file could tell such a large story. I began flipping through all the documents, photographs, and pamphlets and skimming through the letters and correspondence trying to put all the pieces together. The file had no organizational layout, and so my priority was to put everything in chronological order. I wanted to understand the starting point and the ending point. What I came to discover is that sometimes, collections do not always have a solid beginning and concluding aspect. Stories sometimes begin right in the middle and then end abruptly, leaving many questions.

Figure 1: “Physician – Patient – Pastor” Pamphlet, San Francisco Medical Center, May 1961, Chaplaincy Services at UCSF, MSS 22-03.

Figure 1: “Physician – Patient – Pastor” Pamphlet, San Francisco Medical Center, May 1961, Chaplaincy Services at UCSF, MSS 22-03.

The Chaplaincy Services at UCSF Collection began with correspondence between UCSF administrators interested in starting a chaplaincy program. They sought to understand how chaplains, priests, and rabbis could have a role in their hospital space and provide services to patients. What they came to learn and understand, from informational pamphlets, is the connection between chaplains and patients is a powerful one. Chaplains offer judgement free support and a space for patient’s belief and repent needs. When a patient is alone with no family members or loved ones, they can call upon their religion to give them a person of guidance and care.

Figure 2: Installation Service Program for Reverend Elmer Laursen, S.T.M., Lutheran Welfare Service of Northern California, September 18, 1960, Chaplaincy Services at UCSF, MSS 22-03.

Figure 2: Installation Service Program for Reverend Elmer Laursen, S.T.M., Lutheran Welfare Service of Northern California, September 18, 1960, Chaplaincy Services at UCSF, MSS 22-03.

These discussions would ultimately lead to the establishment of a Clinical Pastoral Education Program initiated and headed by Reverend Elmer Laursen, S.T.M. Reverend Laursen was a prominent figure in the Chaplaincy Services at UCSF and established clinical pastoral work as necessary for patient care. Reverend Laursen engaged in public outreach, fundraising, patient and student advocacy, and building relationships with other colleges and hospitals. His work inspired other pastors, reverends, and religious officials to begin implementing clinical pastoral education programs to develop student learning and patient care. He believed that pastoral care is imperative to patient care. Patients deal with challenging, and sometimes traumatizing and scary, medical procedures. The Chaplaincy Program could offer solitude and peace for patients who have no one else to call on. Chaplaincy Programs offer a humanistic approach to patient care in a field that is saturated with data, clinicians, and the medical unknown.

Figure 3: Group Photo of Chaplains, Reverends, Nuns, and Administrators at the 21st Anniversary Celebration of Chaplaincy Training Event, September 1982, Chaplaincy Services at UCSF, MSS 22-03.

Figure 3: Group Photo of Chaplains, Reverends, Nuns, and Administrators at the 21st Anniversary Celebration of Chaplaincy Training Event, September 1982, Chaplaincy Services at UCSF, MSS 22-03.

After reading through the collection, I began dividing the documents into subject folders. These consisted of “Chaplaincy Service Materials,” “Pamphlets & Booklets,” “Funding,” “Chaplaincy Facility Space,” “Chaplain Elmer Laursen,” “Correspondence – August 1959 – September 1974,” “Photographs,” “21st Anniversary Celebration,” and “Rabbi Services.” Through these folders, the collection is now organized in a way researchers and others can trace the narrative. While I was processing the collection, I kept reminding myself to make the finding aid easy and accessible. I want anyone, scholar or not, to be able to open the finding aid or file and know what the collection includes. It is difficult to not let the records overwhelm you with tiny details. It is difficult to not get lost in every aspect of a collection. I found gaps in the correspondence, and every time I read something new, I seemed to come up with more questions. However, I believe that to be a part of the journey and work of archivists and scholars. We are always left wanting more. The documents in the collection are only a portion of the much larger story around Chaplaincy Services at UCSF. Even more miniscule in the larger history around religion and hospitals.

Archives and Special Collections Reading Room is Now Open

Featured

The Archives and Special Collections reading room is now open Wednesday–Friday from 9 am–noon and 1–4 pm by appointment only. For non-UCSF visitors, please see the following information:

  • Request materials and make appointments using our new request system; it’s easy to request materials and make reading room appointments. After an initial sign-up, you can track your requests and appointments.
  • The requirements for access to reading room UCSF Library facilities are currently only open to those with a UCSF ID. External researchers can make appointments to review materials in the Archives & Special Collections reading room. At the time of appointment, visitors will be met at the entrance to the library by the archives staff and accompanied to the reading room. Any individuals visiting the UCSF campus facilities are required to follow UCSF campus guest requirements.

Kathryn Stine Joins UCSF Archives & Special Collections

Featured

We are excited to introduce Kathryn Stine who joined the Archives & Special Collections team as a Digital Health Humanities Program Coordinator. This position will support development and day-to-day operations of a new Digital Health Humanities Pilot. The goal of this initiative is to guide and support faculty in their engagement with digital tools and methods to facilitate interdisciplinary scholarship that will advance understanding of the profound effects of illness and disease on patients, health professionals, and the social worlds in which they live and work.

Kathryn Stine, UCSF Library digital health humanities program coordinator
Kathryn Stine

Kathryn Stine has an extensive background in developing and providing access to digital collections. Her experience includes nearly 10 years working for the University of California system at the California Digital Library (CDL) in various roles, the most recent of which as the Senior Product Manager for Digitization & Digital Content. In that position, Kathryn managed the team that supports and coordinates the University of California Libraries’ engagement with HathiTrust and mass digitization activities. 

Prior to joining CDL, Kathryn held several positions at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she was responsible for leading the university archives program and managed special collections processing. 

Kathryn is deeply experienced in developing and managing cross-institutional and cross-departmental library projects and building communities across diverse functions and perspectives. Her work at CDL  included managing and contributing to both investigative and operations-focused systemwide project teams, coordinating web archiving initiatives, advising for the UC Berkeley digital lifecycle program, and leading a team of developers and analysts to launch, maintain, and enhance a metadata management system for and with HathiTrust. She is motivated by supporting cross-functional teams in bringing both collaboration and creativity to common purpose.

Working with (meta)data is a throughline in Kathryn’s career, and she is enthusiastic about encouraging new ways of deriving and analyzing collections data in support of innovative digital research. In developing and providing workshops and providing project consultation, Kathryn has found working with researchers to make the most of digital collections to be incredibly rewarding. She is very excited to be joining the UCSF Library for the opportunities to work with researchers, technologists, and archivists to match health humanities research inquiry to relevant collections, digital analysis methods, and technical tools.

Kathryn loves a good metadata challenge to puzzle through, and also enjoys improvisational cooking, garment sewing, and getting outdoors with her family, especially to camp and open-water swim.