AzAA Blog Post June 2021

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This month we feature a write up from Arizona State University Library curator of the Greater Arizona Collection, Renee D. James. As stated above, Renee is the Curator for the Greater Arizona Collection at Arizona State University. Prior to her tenure at ASU, the bulk of Renee’s professional career had been centered in New York City, where she served as the Senior Archivist for The Rockefeller University. Renee has also lived and worked in Los Angeles. During her years in California, she managed and developed a university archives and special collections unit, and engaged with BIPOC communities in East L.A.  Renee also serves as an AzAA Board Member, and coordinates the Scholarship Program in Support of Institutional Internships. We thank Renee for providing this overview of the work she does at ASU Library and with the Greater Arizona Collection. 

One of the most rewarding aspects of my participation in AzAA is my work as the coordinator of the internship scholarship program. In 2015, I developed the program along with two AzAA colleagues, and I have continued in this role to the present. The inspiration for the development of the program came out of our frustration with seeing so many struggling institutions unable to offer paid internships. We wanted to develop a program that would provide grant funding to these institutions so that they could hire and offer competitive hourly rates to students in archival programs. Each year AzAA invites Arizona-based institutions interested in directing archival internships to apply for the AzAA scholarship program. The objective is to provide interns with hands-on experience working with a wide variety of archival collections in order to gain a better understanding of archival principles and fundamental practices. The institutional host/supervisor determines project responsibilities, internship length, and learning objectives and outcomes. Upon completion of the internship, a short, written summary detailing the internship experience of both the student intern and the project supervisor is submitted.  This program has been very successful, and continues to fulfill our mission to support regional institutions and communities.

In my other role as Curator of the Greater Arizona Collection, I am committed to the management and ongoing development of the collections, and to the continued outreach and engagement with donors, faculty, students, and communities.

The Greater Arizona Collection includes hundreds of collections consisting of both primary and secondary sources. Materials document the history, culture, and people of Arizona and the Southwest. Collection materials include published items, personal papers, organizational and business records, congressional and political papers, photograph collections, and a myriad of resource materials on the region. Subjects include politics, mining, labor history, Phoenix and Arizona history, water and land management, and organizational histories.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that may indeed be true. The McCulloch Brothers Inc. Photographs 1884-1947 is one example of a collection that offers a fascinating glimpse into the Phoenix of the past, and includes photographs of building construction, city streets and views, water development projects, and Arizona resorts, to name a few.

Here are two examples of photographs from the collection:

Beatrice and Margaret McCulloch Drying Dates, ca. 1915                         

MCLMB A2099A  

200 Block of E. Washington St., Phoenix, 1945 


One of the most frequently accessed Greater Arizona collections is the Personal and Political Papers of Senator Barry M. Goldwater. This collection includes a vast amount of materials documenting both the Senator’s family history and long political career. A recent digitization project has provided online access to the Senator’s 1964 presidential campaign speeches. Many other kinds of documents and photographs illustrate Goldwater’s contribution to local and national history.

There are so many amazing collections to explore in the Greater Arizona Collection, and I am so pleased to be working with these collections and with the library communities I serve. You can browse a selection of digitized collections available in ASU’s Digital Repository; for a more detailed overview of the collections, take a look at the Greater Arizona LibGuide.

If you would like to more information about ASU’s Greater Arizona Collections, or AzAA’s Scholarship Program in Support of Institutional Internships, please contact me at

Published by Arizona Archives Alliance

The Arizona Archives Alliance is a nonprofit organization that advocates for Arizona's historical archives and their users, provides training to archivists and archive volunteers, and promotes the use of Arizona’s historical archives.

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