Earlier this year, Special Collections and Archives was contacted by a University of Arizona student, Ms. Heidi Charles, who offered to assist the department prepare for its upcoming Elizabeth M and PT Reilly internship this summer. Ms. Charles volunteered at least 20 hours a week for nearly three months. During this time she researched the Fred Harvey Company, selected material from the collection to digitized, and then described that material so researchers can discover the treasure trove of Fred Harvey material at Special Collections and Archives. In total, Heidi selected, digitized, and described nearly 250 items from the Fred Harvey Collection. That’s an enormous amount of material to digitize in a relatively short period of time, and we’re so pleased with the remarkable work she did for us.
Heidi is now studying abroad at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, but we asked her a few questions about her experience working in Special Collections and Archives and with the Fred Harvey Collection. Here’s what she had to say:
Tell us about working in special collections and archives as volunteer. What did you do learn that you didn’t know before?
Working in special collections and archives has been such a great opportunity and experience for me. I had absolutely no prior experience with special collections or archives, but I always knew I was interested in it. Through this amazing opportunity, I learned about finding guides (Arizona Archives Online), the digitization process of both photos and manuscripts, and how to assign call numbers to items.
What collection did you work with and what did you do?
I worked with the Fred Harvey collection and selected items to digitize to upload to the NAU special collections and archives site online. I digitized both photos and manuscript items such as menus and other Fred Harvey publications.
What did you learn about Fred Harvey?
Before this project, I had no idea who Fred Harvey was or what the Fred Harvey company was. During this project, I learned that the Fred Harvey company consisted of many Fred Harvey restaurants and hotels along the Santa Fe railroad. What made the restaurants widely popular were the Harvey Girls (waitresses), and the fact that it was the first time that there was quality food served along the railroads.
What surprises or interesting things did you learn about this Fred Harvey or this area?
I learned a lot of interesting things about Fred Harvey, however, I will say one of the most interesting things I came across was the Harvey Girls movie by MGM. I thought it interesting that Fred Harvey was so popular back in the day, that a film was made about the waitresses. I also was surprised to learn that many Harvey Girls actually married men who traveled on the railroads and frequented Harvey houses, and that many children during this time were named Fred or Harvey.
You’re at Waseda University studying abroad, what are you future plans?
I study History and Political Science at UA, and I hope to go into Library Science or Museum Studies (or both), when I go to Graduate School. Currently, I am attending Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan for a semester and I will be taking Political Science classes as well as a Japanese language class.
Anything else you would like to add?
I had such an amazing time with special collections and archives at the NAU cline library. It was a great learning opportunity for me, and it has definitely made me more interested in pursuing Library Science in the future. [yay!]
On behalf of all of us at Special Collections and Archives, we would like to thank Heidi for the amazing work she did in a very short period of time. We wish her the best of luck while studying aboard and hope to see her at our Fred Harvey exhibit opening this coming October 16, 2015.
To see the material Heidi digitized as well as other Fred Harvey material, click on this link.