Exploring the Bio Files

This is a guest post by Joshua Dela Cruz, UCSF Archives Intern.

For the past few months, I have been working as an amateur archivist. My duties in the UCSF Archives and Special Collections have ranged from everything from processing projects to moving heavy boxes filled with books and manuscript collections.

An example of one of my projects is to help inventory the bio files. For this project, I look through a large collection of biographical files of people who have been affiliated with UCSF. These people range from professors, students, physicians and researchers to donors and people who helped build the physical school itself. As I search through what appears to be a never ending collection, I record each person’s name, birth and death dates, profession, notable facts, and their affiliation to the school.

Bio file drawer in the UCSF Archives and Special Collections.

One of the bio file drawers in the UCSF Archives and Special Collections.

The purpose of this project is for the UCSF archivists to have a digital record of the enormous collection of profiles. Additionally, in the long run, they will be able to display the information on an online database where the general public can access it. The project helps the archivists easily locate biographical information and the unique archival material inside the folders.

Bio file of Ichitaro Katsuki, UC School of Medicine graduate, 1896.

Bio file of Ichitaro Katsuki, 1896 UC School of Medicine graduate.

This project has been especially interesting to me because I’m considering a career in the medical field. Half of the bio files project includes reading about the lives of the people, many of them physicians, and their achievements. As a result, I found myself learning about the history of medicine, UCSF, and the school’s amazing physicians and students. Oftentimes, I would read entire biographies or even search more information about the people and work that fascinated me.

Bio file of Benjamin Gross.

Bio file of Benjamin Gross.

Although the work can be repetitive and meticulous, I have enjoyed my time as an intern. After learning about and working behind the scenes of an archive, I have gained a great appreciation for the profession and the people. It has been a very enlightening experience for me, especially in regards to my possible career paths in the future, and I am thankful for the archivists who welcomed and guided me these past few months.