Learning the profession and preparing historical collections

Posted by Sara Volmering on

This summer, intern Melissa Ewing worked with the University Libraries on several collections, including preparing the Hollister Family Collection to be added to our Regional History Collection. This new collection features letters and diaries of the Hollister family who lived in Burr Oak, Michigan, in the mid-19th century.

Ewing created finding aids to help researchers locate and use the Hollister Family Collection. Collections like this one give a glimpse into day-to-day life in the past and provide researchers with primary source materials to support their work.

“Writing the finding aid involves using Western’s online databases to research clues about the individuals and families involved with the creation of the materials,” said Ewing.

While only a fraction of the Libraries’ distinctive collections are available online, the physical collection is extensive. Ewing encourages users to reach out to their librarian for help accessing unique and rich materials in print.

“I wish people would never assume that because something is not online, it does not exist or is not worth asking a librarian about.”

The internship allowed Ewing to apply knowledge learned in her classes in an archive and research environment. Ewing is currently finishing her Master of Library and Information Science and Graduate Certificate in Archival Administration at Wayne State University.

“I love most areas of library science and have worked in public and technical services in the past, so I want to leave myself open to whatever opportunities present themselves.”

“This internship has helped me bring theory and instruction from the classroom and use it in a real workplace situation,” said Ewing. “I feel it has truly prepared me to step into a professional role.”

  • Items like this feather were included in some of the Hollister family's correspondence.


  • Ewing completed an internship with the University Libraries this summer, helping staff at the Zhang Legacy Collections Center process and preserve collections.


  • Ewing helped process and preserve the Hollister Family Collection, including personal correspondence and journals.