A Student’s Perspective: What It Was Like Working In Special Collections

Catie Golitzin, a freshman at Pepperdine, has worked in Special Collections and University Archives as a Student Assistant since last fall. Over the past 7 months, Catie has played an important role in our department. She paged materials for researchers, scanned images, and worked on many special projects including creating finding aids for the Webster Family Papers, the Rindge and Adamson Family Papers, and the Associated Women for Pepperdine Records. Catie is leaving to study in Italy, but before she goes, we asked her to talk about a few projects that she enjoyed working on. Here is what she had to say:

From the beginning of my time here in October, I was researching genealogical databases and historical articles online in order to learn more about the Webster family of Malibu.  It was fascinating to look through census documents online which mentioned John Webster’s immigration into the US from Scotland.  (I took a detour to research the immigration of my own great-grandparents from Russia!)  Included in the collection itself are several cards and letters from young Bill Webster to his parents from camp, usually asking for more allowance and even a horse!

A letter sent by Bill Webster asking his parents for a horse, 1923.

A truly eye-opening collection was the Rindge and Adamson family papers. To briefly sum up the Rindges’ story:  Frederick Hastings Rindge—businessman, philanthropist, and writer—bought the property that is now Malibu and some of the surrounding area in the late 1800s and made it his family ranch, alongside his wife, Rhoda May Knight Rindge, where they would raise four children. The collection spans from 1891-1967 and sheds light on what led to the development of present day Malibu.  Working with this collection, I was able to handle the actual legal documents, correspondence, and handwritten notes kept by the family.

In this collection, I especially enjoyed reading Frederick Rindge’s poetic musings on nature, written on scraps of paper in the late 1890s.  Some gems include:

“The baby horned toads are the essence of chubbiness.”

“Here grows the fig tree, the only tree I know of which has no blossom but yet bears fruit.  Here also will grow the almond whose peculiarity, noted in the Scriptures, is that when in blossom is a mass of pure white, with no tinge of pink as in other trees.”

An example of a poem written by Frederick Rindge.

The collection I did the most work for, besides the Rindge and Adamson family papers, was Associated Women for Pepperdine (AWP).  AWP funds scholarships for active Church of Christ students—including some of my friends here—by hosting year-round events such as bake sales, auctions, dinners, etc.  It was amazing and humbling to see how much work goes into this kind of organization, and to see how motivated the women are to provide education for their students—especially as I too am a scholarship recipient, although from a different organization.  I enjoyed looking at some of the scrapbooks and newsletters, and it was also fun to piece together some “detective work” when writing the Historical Note for the finding aid.

Cover of a scrapbook from the 1960s.


Inside the scrapbook is a sketch of George Pepperdine.

I would like to thank the Special Collections and University Archives for the privilege to work alongside them this year.  It has been a pleasure to learn more about Malibu and Pepperdine history, and to learn about the behind-the-scenes of archival processing.  I encourage students to come visit—anyone can research these materials by simply contacting Katie Richardson at katie.richardson@pepperdine.edu—or, even better, apply to be the new student assistant!

A Student’s Perspective: What It Was Like Working In Special Collections
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