As a University of Connecticut alum, I can think back to a handful of trips to the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center while working on projects and papers as an undergraduate. Back in June, I set foot in the stacks of the Archives and Special Collections Department for the first time as I interviewed for the position of Archivist Assistant for the U. Roberto (Robin) Romano Papers. I was introduced to the side of the ASC that students don’t typically get to see, and was presented with a literal mountain of material that would soon become my charge.
Presently, I have spent the last five months elbow-deep in the massive collection that is the Romano Papers. This is a unique collection, in that it includes everything from Romano’s very first draft of a film script all the way down to the finished documentary. I see everything, and a lot of it – nearly fifteen terabytes of digital content, and at least a dozen crates of physical materials. Stills, videos, audio files, documents (and more) on virtually any media that you can imagine.
Robin Romano was a prominent and prolific American photographer, documentarian, and activist for children’s rights and child labor around the world. He was also an early-adopter of developing technologies, which means that this collection also traces the evolution of various media from inception to obsolescence.
As a photographer, I was already convinced of the importance of this collection at first glance; it was obvious that this would be a valuable resource to students of visual media whether they are interested in the process or the product. Though both human rights and archiving itself are not part of my background, this collection has been a challenging and inspiring way for me to develop myself, both as a professional and an individual. It is my hope that over the coming months I will be able to guide others through the same journey I am on today.