UH Libraries News

New Assistant University Archivist

Katy Allred

Katy Allred

University of Houston Libraries is pleased to welcome Katy Allred in a new project role of assistant university archivist.

Please describe your responsibilities in the new role. How will your work support the University’s upcoming centennial?

In preparation for the UH centennial in 2027 and the anticipated increase in demand for access to and use of archival University materials, I will be arranging, describing, and preserving collections of personal papers and organizational records within University Archives. We will prioritize collections that document UH students, faculty, administration, colleges, programs, organizations, departments, and milestones. I will also assist with accessioning new materials and identifying materials that are good candidates for digitization. I will continue to do general reference work in the Reading Room to support researchers as well. Since starting my new role, I have already processed materials in the Sidney Berger Papers about the Houston Shakespeare Festival, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary this summer. Soon, I will begin work on UH President’s Office Records and Student Organization Records. 

Please share a bit about your background and professional interests. How do these inspire and shape your approach as an archivist?

I am originally from Bossier City, Louisiana, but my wife and I have lived in Houston for 8 years. I earned a BFA in Communication Design from Louisiana Tech University in 2010 and worked in graphic design for several years. I completed my MLIS remotely at the University of North Texas and graduated in August 2021. Before this role, I worked as a project archivist in UH Special Collections beginning in March 2020. I am especially interested in processing backlogs, developing policies and best practices for processing hybrid and born-digital archival collections, and making archival collections and spaces more accessible, more discoverable, and less intimidating. It’s important to me that all users feel like they belong in a reading room and can confidently access and use archival collections. I work with those goals in mind especially when I describe materials, write finding aids, assist researchers, and talk to potential patrons at outreach events.  

What are some insights you’ve gained while processing archives?

In my previous role as a project archivist, I processed the Dorothy Hood Papers, the José María Velasco Maidana Papers, the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Papers, the Margo Grant Walsh Papers, the PFLAG Houston Records, and a few other small collections. I enjoy processing because I love structure and making things usable, but I also love getting to be creative. Every collection requires creative problem-solving to create an accessible structure because every collection is different. Lives are messy, and I’ve learned that our records usually reflect the messiness, despite people’s best efforts. I approach each collection using what I’ve learned from the last one, all while knowing I’ll have to do things a little differently and be ready to learn new lessons to make the next collection navigable and understandable. It keeps me on my toes. I am looking forward to the challenges University Archives has in store!

Written by Esmeralda Fisher on May 20th, 2024 and filed under Announcements, Featured, Special Collections News