Filing with Ky

Filing with Ky

by Brian Thomas

One of the Kent Historical Society’s most devoted volunteers, Ky Anderson comes to the office at Tallman House for long stretches during office hours. She has resisted requests for being profiled or made a fuss over, but there is one topic about which she is a passionate expert — filing.

Ky is the bulwark against the tide of paper than inundates the Kent Historical Society. “I’ll never catch up,” she grumbles, but the fact is, she’s keeping chaos at bay.

Every week, she pages through stacks of material and decides where news clips and other archival material should go, making constant judgements about how to apply the filing system. If by subject and there’s more than one person in the article, whose name should go on the folder?

Choices like this have a long tail, and make an important difference for a future scholar who needs to find something. A hasty choice could inadvertently hide a helpful document from a researcher.

She also consults closely with Curator Marge Smith, who brings her archival knowledge to bear on the nonstop decision-making that Ky’s work requires.

For her office mates, the best part is the running commentary. “I remember him,” she muses, and out comes an important memory of life in Kent. Or, “I remember hearing about this when I was in grade school, and I never understood what it was about.” Some of these recollections get jotted down, but all too many entertain the office for a moment and are gone. She’s a valuable resource for the KHS executive director, who often needs an explanation about who fits in where.

Ky’s archival advice? “Always look on the back of any news clipping. You never know what you’ll find.”