Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hanging with the cousins

THE SOCIETY OF CALIFORNIA ARCHIVISTS' annual conference was held in Ventura on Friday and Saturday, providing us with an opportunity to catch up with our archival neighbors at the Getty Center, Skirball Cultural Center, USC and ONE Archives. The Mount has connections to the Museum of Ventura County, which has memorabilia from the family of Mary Irene Vujovich Ohlfs '46, and we're curious about what they may have on the Doheny "hacienda" near Santa Paula's oilfields.

The keynote speaker was Bill Deverell of the Huntington Library, who is pursuing intriguing research on how the West, especially California, became an emblem of physical healing for gravely wounded Civil War soldiers and their doctors. The restorative powers of a visit to a newly created national park like Yosemite or Yellowstone is a deep theme in the United States' western advancement.

Deverell's talk reminded us that the Civil War was crucial in the development of the nursing profession, too. Hearing about the avalanche of cases of medical battle fatigue–what we know as PTSD–made us wonder about the toll the war took on nurses, who no doubt witnessed the same carnage as the doctors. Our book in special collections Women of the War by Frank Moore (1866) tells their story.

Gatherings of archivists are invigorating for us in the profession, because they remind us that future researchers like Deverell are counting on us. Yep, all that paper is indeed important. (So is that digital stuff, and everybody's having trouble with it.)

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