NEA taking the past into the future

day of service

NEA Community Volunteer Projects

NEA is dedicated to helping the local archival community create access to collections through the annual Day of Service event. What first began as the "Why Worcester?" project at the Spring 2013 Meeting has become a popular way for NEA members to volunteer their time and archival skills helping local repositories with preservation and access projects. An important part of the NEA Spring Meeting, the Day of Service is hosted by a repository near the meeting location. This event creates valuable opportunities for the volunteers and the institutions alike. Participants are afforded the opportunity to expand their knowledge bases and professional networks as well as to actively support colleagues in preserving our shared history.

See our Current Meeting page for updates on our newest Day of Service event and how to participate.

Coordinators Camille Torres Hoven and Megan Schwenke
NEA volunteers getting instruction on the day’s project
NEA volunteer Natalie Liberace working with event coordinator Megan Schwenke
Nichole Cloutier (PPL Special Collections Librarian) with Jill Snyder (2014-2015 NEA President)
Volunteers entered finding aid description for the theatre scrapbooks of 19th-century Portsmouth actor, Henry Clay Barnabee.
2015-2016 NEA President, Colin Lukens listening to Tom Blake’s instruction on the project for the day
Coordinator Meghan Bailey (NEA)
Lead Digital Projects Librarian at the BPL, Danny Pucci, setting up the project laptops
Coordinators Meghan Bailey (NEA), Megan Schwenke (NEA), and Tara Wink (MARAC)
Tom Blake, Digital Projects Coordinator at the BPL explains the project to the morning’s volunteers
Volunteer Lindsay Loeper (MARAC) works with coordinator Megan Schwenke (NEA)
Tom Blake from the BPL works with 2014-2015 NEA President, Jill Snyder
Volunteer Anastasia Matijkiw (MARAC) adds digital coordinates to the Boston Pictorial Archive database
Morning volunteers constructing phase boxes for a selection of the Maine Historical Society’s rare books
Coordinators Meghan Bailey and Martha Meacham
Jaimie Kingman Rice (Maine Historical Society) demonstrates how to construct a phase box with Sarah Easton and Karen Canary
2014-2015 NEA President, Jill Snyder, giving the thumbs-up
Megan Schwenke (Chair Spring 2016 Meeting) overlooking the morning progress
A volunteer in the middle of constructing a phase box for one of the Maine Historical Society’s rare books
Sarah Easton and Karen Canary begin constructing their phase boxes by measuring and scoring
Heidi Benedict trimming the phase box she constructed for one of the Maine Historical Society’s rare books

For more information on how to participate in a Day of Service event or how to host one at your institution, contact the Representatives-at-Large at

Previous NEA Spring Meeting Day of Service Events

2017  |  Sturgis Library and Bourne Historical Society  |  Cape Cod, MA
At Sturgis Library in Barnstable, some volunteers completed a project of encapsulating gravestone rubbings from the library's archival collections, while others contributed to entries to the Stanley Smith Deed Collection online database, a work-in-progress in collaboration with the Boston Public Library. Amassed by local historian Stanley Webster Smith (1869-1941), this extensive collection includes deeds for land, property, warfs, salt works, and church pews. Working from digital images, volunteers filled out forms with keywords and other information in preparation for adding the items to the database.

At the Bourne Historical Society, volunteers transcribed pages from one of three diaries kept by town undertaker Edward D. Nickerson, who in the early 1900s was the only undertaker on Cape Code. The diaries, dating from 1898-1930, contain photographs and handwritten descriptions of Bourne.

Organized by: Judith Farrar, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Archives and Special Collections

2016  |  Maine Historical Society  |  Portland, ME 
Using recycled materials, volunteers created phase boxes and other custom preservation enclosures for the MHS's 18th- to 20th-century bound manuscript and rare book collections, including diaries, ledgers, and early Maine imprints. Their work supplemented ongoing preservation work stemming from an Institute of Museum and Library Services conservation grant awarded in 2006 to the MHS, which provided the training and supplies. 

Organized by: Martha Meacham, NN/LM New England Region and Meghan Bailey, University of Massachusetts Boston, Archives and Special Collections

2015  |  Boston Public Library, Boston Pictorial Archive  |  Boston, MA
Using Google Maps, volunteers identified addresses and intersections for images in the Boston Pictorial Archive and converted the addresses to latitude and longitude values. This data enables digital objects to be precisely correlated through the map browse tool in Digital Commonwealth []. 

Organized by: Megan Schwenke, Harvard Art Museums and Meghan Bailey, University of Massachusetts Boston, Archives and Special Collections

2014 | Portsmouth Public Library | Portsmouth, NH 
Volunteers helped scan and catalog materials from the Henry Clay Barnabee Collection to provide greater access to one of the Library’s most whimsical collections. Barnabee was a Portsmouth-born actor and singer, and the collection includes scrapbooks, correspondence, images, and assorted ephemera. 

Organized by: Megan Schwenke, Harvard Art Museums and Camille Torres Hoven

2013 | "Why Worcester?" | Worcester, MA 
As part of the NEA 40th Anniversary events at the Spring 2013 Meeting, NEA received funding from MassHumanities to organize an oral history project with the Worcester community called "Why Worcester?" Partnering with the Worcester Historical Museum, Worcester Cultural Development Office, Lutheran Social Services of New England, and the Worcester Women’s Oral History Project, NEA helped StoryCorps collect the oral histories of Worcester’s vibrant and diverse immigrant community. 

As part of the project, NEA also documented the stories and experiences of archivists from the New England region. In addition to the StoryCorps oral histories, NEA organized a free public oral history workshop conducted by the Worcester Women’s Oral History Project to teach the basic skills of recording and preserving family stories. These oral histories have been archived in the Worcester Historical Museum, the New England Archivists’ archive, and the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Visit the MassHumanities website to read NEA past president Alyssa Pacy's article, "Archivists, Immigrants, and Oral History," describing the project. 

Organized by: Lisa Long Feldmann, Andrea Benefiel, Ed Desrochers, Shana McKenna, Alyssa Pacy, and Camille Torres Hoven

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