Being a Terrible Archivist

For those of you currently stuck indoors, this podcast interview with Jenn Shapland may be of interest. Shapland talks about researching her new book on Carson McCullers which began when she started reading archived letters between McCullers and a woman called Annemarie Clarac-Schwarzenbach while an intern at the Harry Ransom Centre.

“They are in a box. It’s like a gray manuscript box. So within the box there are folders so that the papers go in the folders. The folders are kind of vertical within the box, if that makes sense, like a filing cabinet almost, and the box is in the basement of the Ransom Center in the manuscript collection, which everything’s housed on these metal shelving units that slide back and forth electronically. So you can push a button to slide over to get into different aisle, which I always thought was fascinating. It’s just really strange, like a mechanical space that houses these incredibly intimate, tactile objects and letters and manuscripts”. 

You can read an extract of the interview (“Jenn Shapland on Being a Terrible Archivist”) and find the link to the podcast on LitHub.




Shapland’s other reflections on working on Carson McCullers’ archival legacy can be found here:

Cataloguing Carson McCullers’ Clothes: Long Coats, Vests, and Gender Fluidity

Unofficial Inquiries from the Archives of Dead Famous Writers: The unanswerable questions about the personal effects of Carson McCullers, Gertrude Stein, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle