In the second week of May, I began my first day at the Cranbrook Archives for my Senior May Project, a program ran by the Cranbrook Upper School to send anxious fourth quarter seniors off campus for internships and adventures. And now, after two weeks of dealing with numerous dusty, yellowed papers (and one suspicious wooden box featuring some dead bugs and cobwebs) my initial excitement only grew.
One of my first projects here was to research the tenure of past Academy of Art faculty and staff members between the years of 1932-1976, and to make a comprehensive spreadsheet on the matter. That project led me to read through old faculty files comprised of payroll information (“how did people survive on $200 a month!” I thought to myself), retirement records, old correspondence—I even came across the first telegram I had ever seen. I wondered, from time to time: “Did the secretary who typed this letter up ever think that a teenaged intern from China would one day behold this work and marvel at its antiquity?”