Cassidy Schulze is a senior in the Liberal Arts Honors program pursuing degrees in History and Humanities. She holds the Internship in the Performing Arts Collection at the Ransom Center for the 2017-2018 academic year and is currently writing her honors thesis “Archiving and Curating the Ephemerality of Theatre.” Cassidy spoke about what she is learning, her favorite projects, and how her internship has impacted her academic life.
Her internship involves a mix of long-term and short-term projects. These long-term projects are typically research guides that she creates for Eric Colleary, Cline Curator of Theater and Performing Arts. One major project Cassidy recently finished is a research guide for the Oscar Wilde holdings. Completing this required her to pull materials directly related to Wilde as well as from people associated with him. She combed through the card catalog and finding aid, and then went into the stacks to see what she was working with. Cassidy tries to divide her time evenly between looking at the finding aid and identifying items to find then spending an hour searching in the stacks. One of her next projects is inventorying the theatre arts LP collection.
A “Dungeons and Dragons” fan, Cassidy sees her short term projects as “fun side quests to the main quest.” These projects involve research requests from patrons that Cristina Meisner, Research Associate for Reference and Research Services, shares with her. These requests are variable, and can range from sending Cassidy to the Circus Collection to look for information for a patron writing a book about the history of tattoos or to pulling materials for classes. Recently, Cassidy had the opportunity to participate in a session about Carson McCullers with a group performing The Member of the Wedding at The Vortex in Austin. To meet the actors’ research needs, she pulled materials from McCullers’s personal life because they were curious about how the South may have influenced the play. Cassidy says that the opportunity to exchange information and discuss McCullers with them brought the materials to life.
Besides the fact that all of Cassidy’s projects are performing arts related, most of her projects have her going into the stacks. These projects have gotten easier because of the simple fact that she “figured out how to find the materials better.” Working with the holdings is where Cassidy encounters her biggest challenge: staying on task. She speaks about the materials with real enthusiasm: “I get so excited about finding something that I want to keep going through it and keep looking. I have to take a step back and say, ‘Ok, I’m not the researcher, I am the person who’s helping the researcher get to what they need.’” In those situations, Cassidy will write down a research question the materials spark and file it away. These questions have served her well, though. She was recently enrolled in the class Early Celebrity Culture with Janine Barchas, and her final research paper relied on holdings that she found while creating the Oscar Wilde guide.
The awe that Cassidy feels working with collection materials has not worn off. She said, “I’m surprised every day that I come in,” and thinks, “‘We have what? We have a live recording of Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall on LP? We have Tom Stoppard’s Tony from when he won for Travesties?’” Her excitement has been the thread that has linked each project.
Photo: The undergraduate intern cohort (Cassidy Schultze not pictured).