Monday, September 08, 2014

An archivist rides into the sunset

This week, we are saying goodbye to Karen Peterson, our archivist of 15 years.

Karen began working at OHSU as a volunteer, and went on to become OHSU's first professional archivist. While OHSU Library has collected archival material and artifacts since at least the 1940s, Karen was the first staff member assigned full-time to managing and providing access to these collections. Karen has often told the story of her first encounter with OHSU's archives - a jumble of disorganized collections housed in a dark, dank storage room, covered in tarps to protect them from the leaking roof!

Over the years, with help from student workers, volunteers, interns, and assistant Jeff Colby, Karen transformed these collections into a working archive, and an invaluable documentary record of OHSU history. Karen also took pride in training and mentoring her assistants, one of whom won an award for his volunteer service to OHSU.

Above: Karen and volunteer Scott Deskins at the Volunteer Services Awards Luncheon, 2012

Karen also made important contributions to outreach for HC&A and the library in general. She coordinated our exhibit program, and her curatorial collaborations with OHSU faculty brought in new audiences and new collections. She played a key role in the Oregon Historical Society exhibit "OHSU: 125 Years of Teaching, Healing, and Discovery," coordinating with curator Morgen Young to select photographs and artifacts  that tell the story of OHSU.

Above: Karen worked with curator Morgen Young to select from among thousands of items for OHSU's 125th anniversary exhibit, 2013.

Karen's work was driven by a passion for history and the unique, personal stories found in archives. We are grateful for her many years of dedication and service, and her hard work in positioning the archives - and OHSU's new archivist - for success. At the end of this week, Karen moves on to the next exciting stage of her life - retirement!

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