Q&A with Sabrina Bocanegra, Archival Processor
January 8, 2019
Last summer, Schramm, Inc., a local drilling equipment manufacturer, donated its historical records to Drexel University, and the University Archives has assumed responsibility for the storage and maintenance of those records. The Collection includes company documents from 1900 to 2005, from board and stockholder minutes, reports and correspondence to sales literature, technical information about company products, financial records, company newsletters, scrapbooks, and other materials.
Thanks to a generous personal gift to the Libraries from Richard Schramm, past chairman of Schramm, Inc., the University Archives has hired an archival processor, Sabrina Bocanegra to process the Collection. Stacy Stanislaw sat down with Sabrina to learn more about her role and what she is doing to preserve this collection of materials.
Q: What is your job title?
I am the Archival Processor for the Schramm, Inc. Collection. Put simply, my job is to arrange, rehouse, and describe the records of Schramm, Inc. to ensure the Collection is accessible to researchers and anyone else interested in it and the history it documents!
Q: Tell me about your background and your work at Drexel. You are doing work for the Legacy Center too?
I received my B.A. in Anthropology from Temple University. I have always been interested in history and learning about different topics, so shortly after graduating from Temple, I started volunteering at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) Archives Department. My experience at HSP inspired me to enroll in Drexel’s Master’s in Library & Information Science (MLIS) degree program.
Towards the end of my time in the program, I started a work-study/internship at the Drexel University College of Medicine Legacy Center Archives and Special Collections. Upon receiving my MLIS last September, I began working as a Project Archivist for the Legacy Center, where I manage the shift of materials from their analog state through online publication for a Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) grant funded project, In Her Own Right: Women Asserting Their Civil Rights, 1820-1920. This project showcases Philadelphia-area collections that highlight women’s struggles leading to the passage of the 19th Amendment (for which the centennial is coming up in 2020!).
It has been such a great opportunity to work with the Legacy Center’s collections and discover the powerful voices of the women who attended and/or worked at the world’s first medical college for women. (Yes, that’s right! The Drexel University College of Medicine grew out of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania). For more information, check out inherownright.org or come visit us over at the Queen Lane Campus!
Q: Describe the work you are doing for the University Archives.
For the University Archives, I am processing the newly acquired Schramm, Inc. collection. Generally, I arrange the collection intellectually and physically in a way that will allow researchers to access and use the collection with ease. I have only spent a few days with the collection so far (there are 42 record cartons in all!), and over the next few months I will be rehousing the records into acid-free folders and boxes and creating a finding aid (or guide) to the collection, which will consist of general information like the administrative history and the box and folder-level arrangement. In addition to processing the collection, I will also be selecting materials that would be good candidates for selective digitization and identifying materials that pertain to Drexel University, such as the relationship between Schramm, Inc. and Drexel’s engineering department and Co-op program.
Q: What excites you the most about starting work on a new collection?
Starting work on a new collection is always exciting because it gives me the opportunity to learn about a subject that I wouldn’t normally choose to learn about. Every collection is different, and—no matter what—you will end up with more knowledge about something than you started with. Just from my first few days with the collection, I have learned about air compressors, booster pumps and rotary drills. Schramm, Inc. started as an engine repair shop in Philadelphia, originally building piston air compressors before moving into the drill sector. I will say that I am not too thrilled that all my online pop-up ads think that I’m in the market for drilling equipment! I guess that comes with the territory.
Q: Describe a few pieces from the Collection that you have encountered so far and what potential users of the Collection can expect to see when it is ready.
To try to get a sense of the company, I decided to start by looking through Schramm, Inc.’s various publications (two company newsletters and two employee newsletters). Right from the start, I could tell that this was a company that really cared about their employees’ welfare and families. While the company newsletters, such as Bores and Strokes, provide mostly advertisements for products, I appreciate the comics placed throughout each newsletter, especially those about women in the workplace. This is at a time where women were starting to join the workforce as men were being drafted into the war.
Employee newsletters, such as Schramm Ink (clever, huh?), were designed to make personal contact with every employee and to promote good will, understanding and cooperation. In one pass of this entire publication, one can see how a company managed to keep the organizational culture and employee morale positive during the ups and downs of the 20th century. In many of the newsletters, there is a section highlighting new hires or employees going “off to war.” In one example, the segment is titled “The Earls of Schramm,” and it includes a photo of all the employees named Earl and their positions (including a young man “returning to Drexel in July”). This is a great example of Drexel’s presence within the company.
Q: Once you are done processing the collection, will people be able to find and use it online?
Once I am done processing the collection, the finding aid will be available in iDEA, Drexel's digital repository. Anyone interested in the Collection will also be able to schedule an appointment to visit the Collection in person at the Drexel Archives. As I said earlier, I hope to identify materials in the Collection that will be good candidates for digitization. These materials will eventually be scanned and put into iDEA as well. Stay tuned for more updates!