When I am asked to explain the project or describe what I do, I often respond by describing myself as a field archivist. My job is to connect the records of the Academic Health Center to University Archives. The senior vice president’s office, the six schools and colleges (medical, nursing, pharmacy, public health, dentistry and veterinary), and the independent centers are the primary units that make up the AHC and the territory I cover. The focus of my search for materials centers on the formation of the AHC in 1970 when the Board of Regents appointed Dr. Lyle French as the vice president for health sciences and the events leading to this decision. It also focuses on what has happened since, up to present day.
I have work space at University Archives, but also a “field office�? within the AHC. Being “in the field�? has facilitated making connections fast. Word of the project is quickly spreading throughout the AHC and I’ve been contacted by numerous faculty and staff with tips on the location of a cache of materials they think are particularly interesting or with questions regarding what is considered archival or how best to manage their in house resource files.
Working as a field archivist also helps to educate and create an environment within the AHC that sees the University Archives as a partner and understand the archives as a place where its sole mission is to manage the historical documentation and information of all units of the university.