2012 Tippecanoe County Historical Association's Volunteer of the Year
Jennifer Bay, associate professor of English, was named the 2012 Tippecanoe County Historical Association’s Volunteer of the Year.
Bay began working with TCHA in 2010, when she was team teaching a graduate course on archives and digital humanities with fellow English professor Pat Sullivan. She wanted her students to have real-world experience processing archival collections, so she contacted Kathy Atwell, the executive director of TCHA. Every Friday during the spring 2010 semester, Bay and her students worked to reorganize and process the organization’s archival collections, spending over 200 hours at TCHA.
Processing a collection entails organizing it, researching the background of the contents, stabilizing the collection by filing the documents in acid-free folders or using other preservation methods, as well as writing a comprehensive collection guide that can be used by future researchers.
When the class ended, Bay decided to continue working with TCHA, since the organization has only a part-time curator and does not have an archivist on staff. She next enlisted 19 undergraduate students in one of her classes to catalog the rare book room. These students spent over 200 hours processing at least 400 books under Bay’s guidance.
In 2012, Bay placed a student intern with the organization and led a Maymester graduate course on experiential learning and engagement to finish work in the rare book collection. Currently, four students in her public rhetorics graduate seminar are working with TCHA to develop exhibits for its new History on Tour trailer.
Since January 2010, Bay has processed 30 archival collections for TCHA, both individually and with students.
“I enjoy this work because it allows me to use my expertise in rhetorical theory, usability, and professional writing for an important community organization. It also has enabled me to teach students how to process and preserve archives, and has allowed them to learn more about preserving public memory,” she said.