The Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University is a center for scholarly research on radical politics, Labor and the Left. Archival, print, photograph, film, and oral history collection strengths include: socialism, communism, anarchism, utopian experiments, the cultural left, the New Left, and the struggle for civil rights and civil liberties. It is the repository for the Archives of Irish America, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, and a growing Asian American labor collection.
Internship Spring 2012
Kate Feighery: This semester I worked as a processing intern at Tamiment Library, but I mostly worked on collections from the Archives of Irish America (AIA). The first collection that I worked on was a collection that the AIA had obtained in 2008, the papers of Daniel Cassidy. Cassidy was an Irish-American musician, filmmaker, and academic, and the collection reflects all of these interests. His 1996 documentary, Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs, about the Troubles in Northern Ireland, was nominated for an Emmy Award, and his film Uncensored Voices aired on PBS. Cassidy was also professor at New College of California, where he founded the Irish Studies Program. Additionally, Cassidy was co-founder of the Crossroads Irish American Festival in San Francisco. Cassidy’s major publication, How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads, was published in 2007, and won the American book award for non-fiction. His other major research interest was African-American and Irish intermarriage in New York City in the mid-nineteenth century.
Processing the collection, especially as my first collection, was both interesting and challenging. Cassidy’s papers were packed up after his death, and came to AIA all jumbled together in six boxes. There was no original order inherent in the collection, and it seemed as though there wasn’t a natural order to the way that Cassidy worked. The most distinct section of material seemed to be that related to his filmwork. There were copies of screenplays and film treatments, as well as research for these materials. Because his films dealt with subject areas so different from his academic research areas, it was easy to see the distinction between these two groups. The rest of the collection was not as easy to organize. The majority of the material in the collection was spiral-bound notebooks, which Cassidy appeared to use for his class work, his research notes, and his personal life. The notebooks weren’t dated, and he seemed to use them interchangeably. Additionally, the collection consisted of heavily-annotated secondary source material. Again, with this material it was often difficult to determine which research interest it should be aligned with. There were a lot of decisions to be made regarding this collection before any true processing could be done on it, but its challenge to the principle of original order made for a really interesting experience. Cassidy had a lot of interesting material that he had collected over the years, and a lot of work that was left unfinished at his death, so hopefully processing this collection will allow other scholars access to this collection.