PACSCL Spotlight: Amplifying BIPOC Voices in the Field

An interview with Anamartha Hinojosa

What is your role?

I am a second-year graduate student in Villanova University’s History program with a concentration in Public History.

How did you get into the field?

History has always fascinated me. I think what most intrigues me is how “the past” is not really in the past. The effects of certain ideologies, such as colonialism or imperialism, are still felt today. My interest in historical topics led me to the University of Texas at Austin, where I graduated with a bachelor’s in history. Once I began Villanova’s graduate program, I decided to focus on public history. Not only do I get to learn interesting topics, but I get to help others explore them too.

What is your favorite collection item at your institution? What’s the most surprising thing you’ve come across while working in GLAM institutions? 

I have two favorites! Special Collections has General William T. Sherman’s Civil War frock coat on display, and Villanova University has Martin Luther King’s original “I Have a Dream” speech. Both of these items were physically held by influential men who changed the course of the United States.

Please highlight any projects related to BIPOC art, history, and culture that you are working on.

I actually began working at Falvey Library because of Spanish letters (from Series VII: Sarah Barry Hayes) that needed translating and transcribing. These early-nineteenth-century letters turned out to be love letters between Sarah B. Hayes (1798-1821), who was related to Commodore John Barry (1745-1803), and Joseph Moran, who was Cuban. This project, and others like it, are important because they shed a light on individuals and groups that have too often been overlooked.

How do you think your experience as BIPOC influences your work as GLAM professional?

I am very thankful for my Mexican upbringing because being a native Spanish speaker has definitely helped me in this field. I love whenever I can put my language skills to use.

If you weren’t studying history, what would you want to be?

As I was looking into graduate degrees, I came very close to applying to archeology programs. I think a mix of history, archeology, and anthropology would be very interesting. However, my dream profession would be zoology! It would be so incredible to observe animals and learn about their habits and behaviors.

What do you wish more people knew about your job?

Isn’t it just lovely when you research something (for a class or for fun) and find a website with a primary source, its transcription, its basic information, and sometimes even an explanation? Well, someone had to do that. It’s important work! My current assignment consists of scanning items and creating the metadata, which is basically data that provides information about other data. I insert the title, creator, subject(s), description, transcription (if applicable), date, format, source, and language. The item then gets uploaded for the public to use.

What are you currently reading or listening to?

I am reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. The song I have on repeat at the moment is “Last Train to London” by Electric Light Orchestra.

What are three things you enjoy outside of school?

I enjoy baking, bird watching, and good TV series/movies.

What is your personal philosophy?

Stoicism. There are so many stoic teachings that I resonate with – such as appreciating and being happy with what you have because you know what enough is, maintaining an almost existential perspective, and knowing that the only thing in your control is how you respond. But if I had to narrow it down to two words, it would be amor fati or love of one’s fate.

Where would you like to go on a dream vacation?

I would love to go to Switzerland! The landscapes look so magnificent. I would unquestionably run around a flower field and have a “Sound of Music” moment.

What have you always wanted to try but never have?

I have always wanted to go backpacking, not just for the views but for the experience of walking the land.

You’re happiest when…

I’m with my family and friends, in nature, traveling, or simply listening to music.