At Temple University, another institution with quite a wide range of subject matter on the shelves, we ran into what in retrospect looks like a very similar pairing of diverse subjects. This time it was Fred Zimring's research materials on Barrows Dunham, a chairman of the University's philosophy department who was dismissed from his position for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was investigating him on charges of subversive activities and alleged membership in the Communist Party. Just the day before we were browsing these interviews about the reach of government into academe during the red scare, we had been steeped in motherhood and apple pie, with the Emilie Mulholland baseball collection. Mulholland had worked for both the Philadelphia Athletics and the Pittsburgh Pirates, and she amassed a pretty impressive collection of memorabilia: baseballs, photographs, programs, a couple of jerseys, and a variety of elephants (the mascot of the Athletics). Mulholland was also a dedicated scorekeeper, and her collection includes years' worth of scorecards.
Consideration of these shifts subject, and shifts of geography, discipline, time period, and weightiness of the matter at hand (not to say, of course, that baseball isn't a very weighty matter...), reinforces for me how interesting this project is for the surveyors. Digging into one collection and savoring its contents (albeit for a short time) is one of the primary joys of this job, and being served a brand new dish with the very next collection is another.