Oral History Center Experiences in Utah on “Belonging” and Japanese American History

A four-panel graphic illustration featuring a guard tower, American flag imagery, barbed wire, and a group of people walking together
“TOPAZ” by Emily Ehlen, a graphic illustration based on oral histories recorded in the Oral History Center’s Japanese American Intergenerational Narratives project

In April 2024, Oral History Center (OHC) interviewers Amanda Tewes, Shanna Farrell, and Roger Eardley-Pryor traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah, where we presented our work on the Japanese American Intergenerational Narratives Project at the annual meeting of the National Council on Public History. The conference also offered a tour of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts to see a major new exhibit on the artwork and life stories of three trailblazing Japanese American women, Miki Hayakawa, Hisako Hibi, and UC Berkeley graduate Miné Okubo, as well as a new exhibit on the creation and conservation of a large silk screen painted in 1932 by UC Berkeley art professor Chiura Obata. In the central desert of Utah, we OHC interviewers joined other public historians and several members of the Wakasa Memorial Committee, including survivors and descendants of the Topaz prison camp, on a pilgrimage to Topaz, one of the ten US government mass incarceration sites where Japanese Americans were unjustly imprisoned during World War II, and one of the initial sites of focus for oral histories in the Japanese American Intergenerational Narratives Project. Together, before visiting the Topaz Museum in the small town of Delta, Utah, this pilgrimage group participated in a ceremony at the desolate remains of the Topaz site to commemorate the life and tragic death of James Hatsuaki Wakasa, who was shot and killed while confined in Topaz eighty-one years earlier in April 1943. Our experiences in Utah reiterated how history remains a powerful and living force, and how oral history can help promote that power.

Conference program cover featuring the words "Historical Urgency," a historical photograph of suffragists, and a modern photograph of people at a public art exhibit.
Program cover for the annual meeting of the National Council on Public History held in Salt Lake City, Utah, from April 10-13, 2024.

“Historical Urgency” was the conference theme for this year’s meeting of the National Council on Public History (NCPH) in Salt Lake City, where some 740 attendees presented, networked, and learned together. Presentation topics included community engagement, particularly with communities whose histories face urgent existential threats; communicating the critical importance of history and historical thinking; discourse and dialogue in a time of extreme social polarization; exploration of oral history, especially the collection of oral histories from older generations; and repatriation of human remains and cultural objects. As noted by NCPH president Kristine Navarro-McElhaney, conference discussions highlighted how historians’ work for public audiences remains essential to the fabric of our society, especially during this time of political and cultural polarization—and yet historical perspectives, tools, and history workers themselves have increasingly come under threat. While urgency may seem in opposition to the often slow and deliberate work that oral historians and other public historians do to build trust and lasting relationships with the communities we serve, many of us cannot help but feel a strong sense of urgency and importance in our efforts to collaboratively excavate the past and elevate community stories in ways that help make meaning in the present.

Four people standing together
Left to right: OHC interviewers Roger Eardley-Pryor, Shanna Farrell, and Amanda Tewes, and Executive Director of the Japanese American Museum of Oregon Hanako Wakatsuki-Chong at the 2024 NCPH conference in Utah

We from the Oral History Center felt especially honored to share at this NCPH our work on the Japanese American Intergenerational Narratives Project. Our roundtable presentation recounted the project’s origins, the trauma-informed interviewing approach we used with these oral histories, and some of emergent themes from the project’s interviews, like “belonging,” “art and expression,” “healing,” and “memorialization.” The roundtable’s discussion was moderated by Hanako Wakatsuki-Chong, the Executive Director of the Japanese American Museum of Oregon and a former National Park Service Ranger who recorded her own oral history as part of the project. Nancy Ukai and Masako Takahashi, both of whom also recorded oral histories as part of the project, attended and presented at the NCPH conference in Utah, joined in our roundtable discussion, and even heard portions their own oral history interviews during our presentation. Our presentation included audio clips from season 8 of The Berkeley Remix podcast, From Generation to Generation”: The Legacy of Japanese American Incarceration,” as well as graphic narrative artwork by Emily Ehlen, all based on oral histories recorded for the Japanese American Intergenerational Narratives Project.

Two people standing in front of framed artwork
Masako Takahashi and Roger Eardley-Pryor at the Pictures of Belonging exhibit at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Relatedly, during the NCPH conference, I (Roger Eardley-Pryor) joined other public historians for a tour of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts on the University of Utah campus to see a new exhibit titled Pictures of Belonging: Miki Hayakawa, Hisako Hibi, and Miné Okubo. The exhibition was curated by Professor ShiPu Wang of UC Merced and features over 100 paintings and works on paper by these three Japanese American women artists, all critically acclaimed with long and productive careers. Yet during World War II, both Hibi and Okubo were unjustly incarcerated in Utah at Topaz, along with Hayakawa’s parents. Pictures of Belonging follows the three artists’ prewar, wartime, and postwar art practices, sharing an expanded view of the “American experience” by women who used artmaking to take up space, make their presence and existence visible, and assert their own belonging. Many of the exhibit’s artworks are on view to the public for the first time. The exhibit’s titular theme of “belonging” resonated nicely with the Oral History Center’s Japanese American Intergenerational Narratives Project at UC Berkeley, and Okubo even earned her Master in Fine Arts degree in 1938 from UC Berkeley. Our tour of the art exhibit was co-led by Sarah Palmer, Head Exhibition Designer at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, and by Dr. Kristen Hayashi, Director of Collections Management & Access and Curator at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. I am especially grateful I could tour Pictures of Belonging with Masako Takashashi, who herself is an outstanding multi-media artist, was born behind barbed wire at the Topaz prison camp in Utah, and who I worked with to record her forthcoming oral history interview for the Japanese American Intergenerational Narratives Project.

Watercolor painting of a dust storm
“Dust Storm, Topaz” by Chiura Obata, reprint of 1943 watercolor as displayed at the Topaz Museum in Delta, Utah

Our visit to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts also included another new exhibit titled Chiura Obata: Layer by Layer, which presents an in-depth look at the creation and conservation of Obata’s beautiful “Horses” silk screen painting from 1932. Chiura Obata was an esteemed artist and professor at UC Berkeley who was also incarcerated during World War II at Topaz in Utah, where he and Miné Okubo taught art classes for their fellow Japanese American incarcerees. Kimi Kodani Hill, the granddaughter of Chiura Obata, recently presented at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts on her grandfather’s life and work, and I’m grateful that during our recent meeting in Berkeley, prior to my own Utah trip, she shared stories with me about Obata’s silk screen exhibit. During the screen’s 2022 conservation treatment, conservators at Nishio Conservation Studio discovered that the four-paneled screen contained hidden full-scale preparatory charcoal drawings of the horses. In addition, they found that the screen’s internal layers were made of practice drawings by Professor Obata and his summer 1932 students. The recently conserved screen, the full-scale under-drawings, and a selection of the practice drawings were all on display at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, along with a short film on the conservation process, which itself is an artform. Back in the Bay Area, Kimi Kodani Hill reminded me that another exhibition with forty of Chiura Obata’s watercolors, woodblock prints, and ink paintings from several decades of his life are currently displayed through mid-July at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

A sign in the desert with snow-covered mountains in the distance
National Historic Landmark sign at Topaz notes that the site is privately owed by the Topaz Museum Board and asks visitors not to remove any objects, including rocks

At the NCPH conference in Salt Lake City, Masako Takahashi and Nancy Ukai joined other members of the Wakasa Memorial Committee to present their own panel titled “Who Writes Our History?” This panel addressed urgent and ongoing challenges over descendant and survivor community consent and collaboration with the Topaz Museum following the recent discovery and excavation of the Wakasa Memorial Stone from the Topaz incarceration site in 2021. That massive, 1,000-pound stone memorial was erected in 1943 by Japanese American incarcerees at Topaz just after James Wakasa’s murder there. But US government authorities quickly demanded the memorial’s destruction in their effort to bury acknowledgement of Wakasa’s death from a bullet fired by a white, nineteen-year-old US soldier who was quickly acquitted of any crime. The Wakasa Memorial Committee’s NCPH presentation, which was standing-room only, featured short films and personal reflections on the life, death, memory, and now-contested stone memorial of James Wakasa, whose murder in Topaz occurred on April 11, 1943, exactly eighty-one years earlier to the day of their April 2024 presentation date.

A chain-link fence with the word Topaz shaped out of barbed wire on it
A perimeter fence at Topaz bears the name of the WWII-era mass incarceration in barbed wire

Two days later, still in Utah, Oral History Center interviewers and several other public historians joined Ukai, Takahashi, and other members of the Wakasa Memorial Committee on a pilgrimage to the dust-strewn ruins of the Topaz site on the edge of the Great Basin in Utah’s central desert. The bus ride out to the remote site included watching historical films and sharing personal backgrounds and reflections amongst this group that had assembled from eight different states. Hours later, we arrived at a sparse, sun-bleached landscape encircled by distant snow-capped mountains. Much of the original barbed wire fence around Topaz remains today where some 8,000 Americans were unjustly imprisoned for years during World War II. Crumbled concrete foundations mark sites of now-gone guard towers where US soldiers aimed their guns down at the Japanese American prisoners, and from where they occasionally fired shots, like the one that pierced James Wakasa’s heart in 1943. At the Topaz site, we joined members of the Topaz Museum Board, including board president Patricia Wakida; Scott Bassett, board secretary and education director at the Topaz Museum; and Topaz descendant and board member Dianne Fukami. Together, we all participated in a ceremony organized by the Wakasa Memorial Committee to commemorate Wakasa’s death, as well as the 140 people who died behind barbed wire at Topaz, and the sixteen Japanese American soldiers drafted from Topaz who died during their World War II military service.

In the desert a woman stands at a microphone and two women stand next to an art installation of a large rock
Wakasa Memorial Committee members Masako Takahashi (left), Nancy Ukai (center) and Lauren Araki at Topaz near where James Wakasa was shot 81 years earlier. Ukai and Araki drape ancestral name tags around an artist’s rendition of the Wakasa Memorial Stone.

The Wakasa 81st Memorial Ceremony at Topaz began at block 36-7-D, where once stood James Wakasa’s tar-paper barracks. From there, we re-traced Wakasa’s steps across the dusty and now-hauntingly empty landscape to the western perimeter site of his murder, near where the Wakasa Memorial Stone once stood before incarcerated Japanese Americans, under government orders to destroy the memorial, buried it in 1943. An artist’s large recreation of the stone, this one blazing white and made of paper mache and wood, stood near where the now-excavated memorial was unceremoniously removed in 2021. After a land blessing and words of remembrance from survivors born at Topaz, we encircled the artist’s stand-in memorial with name tags bearing the names of our own ancestors. Joshua Shimizu then sang in both Japanese and English the hymn “Rock of Ages,” which was also sung at Wakasa’s funeral in April 1943, and which offered deeper meaning for the missing original Wakasa Memorial Stone. During the hymn, ceremonial participants attached colorful paper flowers to the base of the art installation. Those paper flowers we carried to the ceremonial space were made by Topaz camp survivors and descendants in honor of the paper floral blossoms folded by imprisoned Japanese Americans at Topaz in lieu of actual flowers for James Wakasa’s 1943 funeral. Miné Okubo, the artist whose work we saw earlier at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, drew while she was incarcerated at Topaz several illustrations of Wakasa’s funeral, including imprisoned women folding paper flowers to adorn wreaths and crosses. On the desert floor in April 2024, white paper flowers also surrounded the excavation site where Wakasa’s Memorial Stone had been dug up by order of the Topaz Museum Board in 2021. The Wakasa 81st Memorial Ceremony at Topaz simultaneously evoked absence and living memory. It was especially meaningful to me (Roger) to join Nancy Ukai and Masako Takahashi at the ceremony after having worked together to record their oral histories, in which they shared intergenerational memories about James Wakasa and more recent memories about the Wakasa Memorial Stone’s recent rediscovery and removal from that site.

People stand behind a large rock
Public historians and Wakasa Memorial Committee members view the excavated Wakasa Memorial Stone at the Topaz Museum in Delta, Utah

After the ceremony at Topaz, the pilgrimage group boarded the bus and traveled sixteen miles to the handsome Topaz Museum, which opened in 2017 after decades of fundraising and planning in the small town of Delta, Utah. Once there, the pilgrimage group found their way to the back of the museum where we gathered to witness the actual Wakasa Memorial Stone, a one-thousand-pound rock now sitting on a wooden pallet and confined at the museum in a small enclosure to protect it from the elements. After paying our respects to the stone, we toured the Topaz Museum’s exhibits and collections, which include hundreds of artifacts, photographs, and oral histories, as well as 150 pieces of original artwork. The Topaz Museum’s core exhibit explores the complex story of the World War II Japanese American incarceration experience, especially as it transpired at Topaz. The exhibit begins with the racist laws that marginalized early Japanese immigrants, which lead eventually to the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. The exhibit extends into the traumatic impacts of their exile, with an obvious focus on the Topaz experience, and it concludes with an examination of the Constitutional violations that the incarcerees were forced to endure. I (Roger) found the Topaz Museum exhibits to be impressive, interactive, and informative. The pilgrimage group then gathered a final time out back by the Wakasa Memorial Stone before boarding the bus and returning to Salt Lake City.

People stand in the desert where white paper flowers are on the ground
OHC interviewers Amanda Tewes (in maroon cap) and Shanna Farrell (in purple hat) observe the excavation site of the Wakasa Memorial Stone near where James Wakasa was shot 81 years earlier in April 1943

The emotional experiences throughout our time in Utah reminded me of William Faulkner’s line in Requiem for a Nun: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” The public history presentations on “historical urgency” at NCPH, the outstanding exhibits on Japanese American artists, the powerful pilgrimage to Topaz and the commemorative ceremony at the site of James Wakasa’s murder, which we shared with survivors and descendants of the prison camp eighty-one years from the date of Wakasa’s death, as well as our trip to the Topaz Museum to see its exhibits and the excavated Wakasa Memorial Stone all reminded us that history is still very much alive and shapes our present experiences. At both the Topaz incarceration site and at the Topaz Museum in Delta, we witnessed some of the still-simmering tensions between Topaz Museum Board members and members of the Wakasa Memorial Committee over what has happened and what will happen to the now-unearthed Wakasa Memorial Stone. Throughout all of those experiences in Utah, I kept thinking on the recurrent theme of “belonging,” including in the oral histories we continue to conduct in the Oral History Center’s Japanese American Intergenerational Narratives Project. “Belonging” carries multiple meanings and invites complex questions. Within what communities, or within which factions of communities, do we find and feel belonging? Throughout history, and up through the present, where have Japanese Americans found belonging? What about the physical artifacts of Japanese American history, like artwork created during World War II-era incarceration, or like the recently re-discovered Wakasa Memorial Stone? To whom do those objects belong? And importantly, who has the right to tell the history of artifacts, artwork, memorials, or lived experiences? To whom does this history belong?

Answers to questions of belonging are elusive because they’re always evolving. I do know, however, how grateful I feel to continue working with individuals and communities to record oral histories that empower narrators to share their own living memories and reflections on the past, and how the personal histories these interviews record will continue to shape our shared present moments. These experiences in Utah helped further inspire our ongoing work on the Japanese American Intergenerational Narratives Project, especially as we seek renewed funding to record new oral histories for it. We hope that you, too, can find inspiration and meaning in these stories, and that they might inform your own sense of belonging.

— Roger Eardley-Pryor, Oral History Center historian and interviewer

ABOUT THE ORAL HISTORY CENTER

The Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library preserves voices of people from all walks of life, with varying political perspectives, national origins, and ethnic backgrounds. We are committed to open access and our oral histories and interpretive materials are available online at no cost to scholars and the public. You can find our oral histories from the search feature on our home page. Search by name, keyword, and several other criteria. Sign up for our monthly newsletter  featuring think pieces, new releases, podcasts, Q&As, and everything oral history. Access the most recent articles from our home page or go straight to our blog home.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Oral History Center if you’d like to see more work like this conducted and made freely available online. While we receive modest institutional support, we are a predominantly self-funded research unit of The Bancroft Library. We must raise the funds to cover the cost of all the work we do, including each oral history. You can give online, or contact us at ohc@berkeley.edu for more information about our funding needs for present and future projects.


Oral History Center Partners in Yale Celebration of James C. Scott

James C. Scott and Todd Holmes with K.Sivaramankrishnan and Elizabeth Wood together at a celebration event.
From Left to Right: Elizabeth Wood, Jim Scott, K. (Shivi) Sivaramakrishnan, and Todd Holmes at Yale Celebration on March 28, 2024. Wood and Sivaramakrishnan are the co-directors of the Yale Agrarian Studies Program. Photo Credit: Harold Shapiro

On March 28, OHC historian Todd Holmes participated in the retirement celebration of James C. Scott at Yale University. For many academics around the world, Scott needs no introduction. He is the Sterling Professor of Political Science and Anthropology at Yale University; founder of the renowned Yale Agrarians Studies Program; and author of a series of groundbreaking books that over the decades have become mainstays across the fields of the humanities and social sciences. To be sure, this impressive scholarship not only earned him honors from nearly every corner of the academy, but also made him one of the most influential and widely read social scientists in the world. In 2022, Scott announced his retirement, drawing to a close an academic career that had spanned over five decades.

This past March, scholars and students alike gathered at Yale University to celebrate Scott and his extraordinary career—an event in which the Oral History Center was proud to participate.  The OHC began working with Yale in 2018 on an oral history project to document both the career of Jim Scott and the history of the Agrarian Studies Program he founded in 1991. Led by OHC historian Todd Holmes and released in 2022, The Yale Agrarian Studies Oral History Project featured the full life history of Scott and shorter interviews with sixteen affiliates of the program. At the event, Holmes – a Yale alum and former graduate coordinator of the Agrarians Studies Program – presented bound volumes of the oral histories to the Yale University Library. In addition to the oral history presentation, the event also featured a screening of the documentary film, In A Field All His Own: The Life and Career of James C. Scott. Produced by Holmes, the film draws from the nearly thirty hours of oral history interviews conducted for the project to trace the intellectual journey of the award-winning social scientist from his childhood in New Jersey through each of the works he produced in his accomplished career. The film is available to the public on YouTube. It is also linked below.

James C. Scott and Todd Holmes with K.Sivaramankrishnan and Elizabeth Wood together at a celebration event.
Todd Holmes speaking to the audience before the screening of the documentary. Photo Credit: Harold Shapiro

Jim Scott expressed his appreciation for the event in his concluding remarks, noting how much he preferred a celebration of this sort – with film and discussion – over the typical academic retirement symposium, or Festschrift. The latter, in his view, “always seems like a memorial,” he joked with the audience, “and I assure you, I’m still here!” Always the humorist, he punctuated the point by announcing the forthcoming release of his book on Burma’s Irrawaddy River by Yale University Press, another noteworthy achievement for a scholar who turns 88 years young in December. Scott had discussed this project in his oral history, hinting that he still had something to say about rivers before he “hung up his coat.” It was a fitting end for an event celebrating an extraordinary career.

Additional Resources

James C. Scott: Agrarian Studies and Over 50 Years of Pioneering Work in the Social Sciences

Yale Agrarian Studies Oral History Project

About the Oral History Center

The Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library preserves voices of people from all walks of life, with varying political perspectives, national origins, and ethnic backgrounds. We are committed to open access and our oral histories and interpretive materials are available online at no cost to scholars and the public. You can find our oral histories from the search feature on our home page. Search by name, keyword, and several other criteria. Sign up for our monthly newsletter  featuring think pieces, new releases, podcasts, Q&As, and everything oral history. Access the most recent articles from our home page or go straight to our blog home.


Mapping the Italian Language(s) — The Atlante Linguistico Italiano

With its tenth volume recently added to the UC Berkeley Library, the Atlante Linguistico Italiano is a unique piece of the Library’s map collections. Each entry in the atlas begins with a single concept, notion or phrase in standard Italian such as cuore, heart. Accompanying this is a map of the Italian peninsula (along with Sicily and Sardinia) that contains the equivalent term, rendered in IPA, as heard in communes all across the country. The lexical and phonetic variations of a single word play out in gradients across the landscape with small changes from one commune to the next that give way to seismic ones from one region to another. The result is a condensed roadmap of the immense linguistic diversity of Italy.

Bambino
Entry for the world “bambino”, showing variants across Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna and Liguria.

As of now, the ten available volumes cover lexical items in the following spheres: the human body, clothing, the home, food, family, and society, with many other spheres such as fauna, commerce, and agriculture yet to be published. While this work is comprehensive in its treatment of geographic variants, it says unfortunately very little about diastratic variation or the relative social capital of the varieties it contains. With its data now over 30 years old, and many of its constituent dialects likely under the threat of extinction, the Atlante may soon start to take on historic and diachronic intrigue as well.

 

Oggi
Entry for the word “oggi” showing showing variants Lombardy, Liguria, Piedmont, and the Aosta Valley.

And if you’re thinking of taking these volumes home with you, think twice. They won’t fit in your backpack. They are big and heavy, measuring 49 x 71 centimeters each, and best consulted in the comfort of the Main Stacks.

 

Pellis, Ugo, and L. (Lorenzo) Massobrio. Atlante linguistico italiano  / materiali raccolti da U. Pellis [and others] ; redatto da L. Massobrio [and others]. Roma: Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, Libreria dello Stato, 1995.
Main (Gardner) Stacks fff PC1711 .A89 1995 v.1-10


PhiloBiblon 2024 n. 4 (mayo). Los manuscritos del Fuero Juzgo: denominaciones antiguas y signaturas modernas

Mónica Castillo Lluch
(Université de Lausanne)

Carmen del Camino Martínez
(Universidad de Sevilla)

 

Tan nocivos como el fuego y otros desastres naturales pueden resultar para el conocimiento de los textos antiguos los cambios de denominación de los manuscritos. La confusión que produce un nuevo nombre o signatura en un testimonio puede obstaculizar, o incluso impedir, el avance de la investigación, por lo que a filólogos e historiadores se nos impone, como primer paso para el estudio de una tradición manuscrita, la aclaración de las concordancias entre las denominaciones de cada pieza, mutantes a lo largo del tiempo. Descifrar esos códigos puede ser una tarea más o menos exigente en función de la edad de los manuscritos: cuanto más antiguo es un testimonio, mayor cantidad de mudanzas ha podido sufrir de una biblioteca a otra, y más cambios posibles de signaturas. Si además tratamos con tradiciones complejas, compuestas de abundantes testimonios, la dificultad se multiplica.

El caso de la tradición manuscrita del Fuero Juzgo reúne todas las características que lo hacen complejo en cuanto a las denominaciones de los testimonios: está constituida por un número elevado de testimonios (50), de los cuales 36 (más 3 fragmentos) son medievales, que han cambiado de poseedores y que se han editado y estudiado haciendo uso de designaciones que ya no corresponden a las de hoy. En consecuencia, muchas preguntas importantes han estado en el aire durante décadas, incluso durante siglos, sobre la tradición manuscrita y las ediciones existentes del Fuero Juzgo: ¿qué manuscrito editó Villadiego en 1600? ¿A qué manuscritos corresponden exactamente las denominaciones que utilizó la RAE en su edición de 1815? ¿Están en el aparato de la edición académica de 1815 los manuscritos que editaron Mencé (1996) u Orazi (1997)? Por muy sorprendente que pueda parecer, nadie hasta la fecha ha intentado establecer una lista completa de correspondencias entre las denominaciones antiguas y las signaturas modernas de los testimonios del Fuero juzgo, como tampoco se ha identificado el manuscrito editado por Villadiego en 1600, y ni siquiera en las ediciones de Mencé y de Orazi se llega a indicar a qué denominaciones académicas (RAE 1815) correspondían los manuscritos escurialenses editados por ambas autoras (Z-III-21 y Z-III-6 respectivamente).

Hasta el momento de publicarse esta entrada, en PhiloBiblon sólo se presentaban tres concordancias entre denominaciones antiguas y signaturas modernas, extraídas del catálogo de Zarco Cuevas (1924, 1926, 1929). A estas referencias se limitaba casi el estado de la cuestión, al que debemos añadir otras tres informaciones. En el caso de los otros dos códices estudiados por Orazi (escurialenses P-II-17 y M-II-18), esta autora sí consignó la correspondencia con la denominación académica (Orazi 1997: 40 y 41). A su vez, en su estudio sobre Dialectalismos leoneses de un códice del Fuero Juzgo, García Blanco (1927: 7) identificó el manuscrito que estudió –BNE 5814– con el número 16 de los citados en la edición de la RAE 1815, es decir, con Biblioteca Real 2. Por lo tanto, antes de nuestras investigaciones podríamos contabilizar en total seis concordancias publicadas, de las cuales una, como veremos más adelante, es incorrecta.

El caso del Fuero Juzgo sale bastante mal parado en comparación con otra tradición manuscrita muy próxima: la de las Siete Partidas, que cuenta asimismo con un juego de denominaciones académicas, el empleado en la edición de la RAH de 1807,  muy necesitado de correspondencias con las signaturas actuales. Para las Partidas, García y García (1985: 255-257 apud Fradejas Rueda 2021: 23) compuso hace ya cuatro décadas una tabla de correspondencias entre las designaciones de la RAH y las signaturas actuales (véase la tabla adaptada en Fradejas Rueda 2021: 23).

En vista del vacío de conocimiento, y al hilo de nuestras investigaciones sobre el Fuero Juzgo, nos hemos dedicado en los últimos años a identificar los manuscritos que se esconden tras denominaciones distintas y también hemos localizado, mediante una serie de cotejos textuales, el manuscrito que editó Villadiego en 1600. Hemos dado cuenta del juego completo de concordancias en dos conferencias (Castillo Lluch/Mabille 2022 y Castillo Lluch 2023), cuyas versiones escritas se hallan en prensa en este momento (Castillo Lluch/Mabille y Castillo Lluch/García López). En ambas publicaciones se hace mención a la aportación común de Castillo Lluch y Camino Martínez a esa lista de correspondencias mediante intercambios al respecto producidos entre 2021 y 2023.

Listado manuscritos Fuero Juzgo
Listado del conjunto de mss. del Fuero Juzgo con las correspondencias a las denominaciones de la RAE en los testimonios precedidos de asterisco (Castillo Lluch, conferencia en Yale University, abril 2023)

En este post presentamos los resultados de nuestra investigación, con los que nos complace contribuir a la mejora de los registros de PhiloBiblon. Empezaremos analizando las tres referencias que debemos a Zarco, ofreceremos después el listado de correspondencias de denominaciones antiguas y signaturas modernas que hemos conseguido establecer y, para terminar, nos referiremos a la edición de Villadiego (1600), preguntándonos por el manuscrito que copió.

Zarco Cuevas (1924, 1926, 1929) cataloga el conjunto de manuscritos del Fuero Juzgo (BETA texid 1191) custodiados en la Real Biblioteca de El Escorial, y para todo ese conjunto (v. p. 116 del vol. 1 de su catálogo, donde, en la ficha dedicada a d-III-18, menciona la existencia de M-II-18, M-III-5, P-II-17, Z-II-9, Z-III-6, Z-III-18 y Z-III-21), consigue ofrecer tres correspondencias con las denominaciones de la edición académica:

  • d-III-18 = ‟Escurialense 3º” en la edición de la RAE (Zarco Cuevas 1924: I, 116).
  • M-II-18 = ‟Escurialense 3º” en la edición de la Academia (Zarco Cuevas 1926: II, 284).
  • Z-III-18 = ‟Escurialense 2º” en la edición de la ‟Academia de la Historia” (sic, léase RAE) (Zarco Cuevas 1929: III, 149).

La concordancia de ‟Escurialense 3º” con dos manuscritos es, evidentemente, errónea, pues a cada uno de esos dos debería corresponderle una denominación distinta en la edición académica. Zarco se equivocó con M-II-18, que en realidad es el designado como ‟Escorial 5º” en el aparato de variantes de la RAE, si bien la descripción inicial que los académicos ofrecen de ese manuscrito escurialense 5º (RAE 1815: prólogo, 5-6) corresponde a Z-II-9. Se suman aquí, por tanto, dos fallos: uno de la RAE al describir Z-II-9 en el prólogo a su edición dándole por nombre Escorial 5º, pero después no incluyéndolo en su aparato, y en su lugar introduciendo las variantes de M-II-18; y el de Zarco Cuevas, que asimila M-II-18 a Escurialense 3º.

Otro detalle que debe tenerse en cuenta es que el número de testimonios medievales que tuvo la Academia para su edición de 1815 fue de 21; pero, en la práctica, se ofrece el texto de Murcia en el cuerpo de la página y en el aparato crítico recoge las variantes de 16 códices (omite las de BR4, BR5, BR6 y las de Z-II-9, que había descrito en el prólogo por error como Esc 5, pues, como se acaba de ver, en el aparato Esc 5 es M-II-18).

Ofrecemos a continuación el listado de los manuscritos del Fuero Juzgo que manejaron los académicos para su edición de 1815, y también la que usó algunas décadas más atrás Andrés Marcos Burriel (1755), primer editor del manuscrito de Murcia y precursor de la edición académica, por haber elegido ese códice como manuscrito óptimo y porque incluye variantes de otros dos manuscritos romances que desconoció la Academia (actuales T 43-9 y T 43-10). Incorporamos también la información relativa a la edición de Rafael Floranes (1780), basada en el códice RAE 54, que cotejó con RAE 53, con otro de su propiedad que no tuvo la RAE para su edición (RAE 293), y también con el texto editado por Villadiego (Camino Martínez 2021 y 2022). Entre paréntesis se indican los manuscritos que la Academia tuvo a la vista, pero que no incluyó en su aparato crítico. La última columna de la tabla contiene la identificación a partir de las signaturas actuales de los manuscritos que fueron editados sin indicar, por desconocimiento, a qué denominación de la RAE correspondían (obviamente esto no hace para las ediciones de Villadiego, Burriel o Floranes, anteriores a la edición académica).

Signatura actual PhiloBiblon
BETA manid
Denominación RAE Denominación Burriel Denominación Floranes Ediciones de equivalencia con el códice correspondiente de la RAE (1815) se desconocía hasta hoy
Archivo Municipal de Murcia, Serie 3, ms. 53 manid  1350 Murcia
RAE 49 manid  1345 Campomanes
RAE 50 manid  1358 San Bartolomé
RAE 51 manid  1346 Béjar
RAE 53 manid  1347 Malpica 1 Gondomar 2 cotejado por Floranes
RAE 54 manid  1348 Malpica 2 Gondomar 1 editado por Floranes

(y antes por Diego Covarrubias: ms. A 331/15 de la Universidad de Sevilla)

BNE Vitr. 17-10 manid  4458 Toledo Toledo 4 editado por Burriel
BNE 244 manid  1356 (BR5)
BNE 2978 manid  1364 (BR6)
BNE 5774 manid  3684 (BR4)
BNE 5814 manid  1365 BR2 editado por Villadiego
BNE 5975 manid  1359 BR3
RBME d-III-18 manid 1360 Esc. 3
RBME M-II-18 manid  1341 Esc. 5
RBME M-III-5 manid  1354 Esc. 4
RBME P-II-17 manid  1353 Esc. 6
RBME Z-II-9 manid  1361 (Esc. 5 en prólogo, pero no recogido en aparato)
RBME Z-III-6 manid  1355 Esc. 1 editado por Mencé
RBME Z-III-18 manid  1163 Esc. 2
RBME Z-III-21 manid  1337 BR1 editado por Orazi
? Estudios Reales
T 43-9 manid  1363 Toledo 5 cotejado por Burriel
T 43-10 manid  1357 Toledo 6 cotejado por Burriel

Por último, expondremos cuál era el estado de la cuestión con respecto al manuscrito editado por Villadiego en 1600 y el procedimiento que hemos seguido para identificarlo. En las ‟Advertencias necesarias a la claridad desta obra” que preceden a su edición, Villadiego (1600: 7) se limitaba a informar de que el códice del que copiaba procedía de ‟vna libreria muy antigua, escrito de mano, y en pergamino” y que Antonio de Covarrubias lo estudió y comentó entre 1596 y 1598. Entre los preliminares de ese impreso de Villadiego, se encuentra un ‟Testimonio de la libreria de la santa Iglesia de Toledo” en el que se confirma que concordaba el texto del original de imprenta de Villadiego con el ‟Fuero Iuzgo que tiene esta santa Iglesia mayor en su libreria”. Siglo y medio más tarde, Burriel (1754: 270-271) también indicaba que esa edición se basaba en un ‟tomo manuscrito de la Iglesia de Toledo”. Ahora bien, en un estudio reciente (cf. Castillo Lluch y Mabille 2021: 80, n. 11), tras haber examinado algunos pasajes del texto de la edición de 1600, hemos podido probar que el testimonio que copia Alonso Villadiego no es el de ninguno de los toledanos que manejó Burriel (T4, T5, T6) ni tampoco es T 15-37. Dado que hoy no se conserva ningún manuscrito antiguo en Toledo que no sean T5 (T 43-9), T6 (T 43-10) y T 15-37, y que T4 (hoy BNE Vitr. 17-10) tampoco es el modelo, ¿se trataría de un manuscrito que se conservaba en Toledo antes del siglo xvii y después se desplazó a otro lugar? Ignoramos muchos detalles de la conservación de los distintos manuscritos en diversos repositorios, pero en el caso de algunos, como, por ejemplo, RAE 54, hemos inferido, a partir de unas anotaciones en el recto del primer folio que había quedado en blanco, que ‟en el último cuarto del siglo xiv debía encontrarse en Toledo” (Camino Martínez 2018: 74).

Imagen 3: Fragmento de la ley 8.2.1 en el ms. BNE 5814
Imagen 3: Fragmento de la ley 8.2.1 en el ms. BNE 5814, f. 132r y en la ed. de Villadiego, f. 379v. Se aprecia que la edición sigue el manuscrito.

Mediante un cotejo de un fragmento de 8.2.1 de la edición de Villadiego con, además de los cuatro toledanos ya mencionados, 24 manuscritos antiguos a nuestra disposición (escurialenses Z.III.21, P.II.17, M.II.18, M.III.5, d.III.18, Z.III.6, Z.III.18, académicos 49, 50, 51, 53, 54, 293, el BNF 256, el Hisp. 6 de la Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, el IL 111 de Lisboa, el de Estocolmo, el de la Biblioteca Real de Copenhague, el de Oxford, los de las fundaciones Lázaro Galdiano y Bartolomé March y los de la BNE 5774, 5814 y 244), hemos logrado identificar ese testimonio occidental que edita Villadiego en 1600 como BNE 5814 (véanse imágenes 3 y 4).

Ley 10.1.14 en el ms. BNE 5814, f. 157v y en la ed. de Villadiego, f. 419r.
Imagen 4: Ley 10.1.14 en el ms. BNE 5814, f. 157v y en la ed. de Villadiego, f. 419r. En lugar de la unidad de medida espacial arpendes, en ambos textos se lee la lección deturpada años, criticada en la edición académica (RAE 1815: XXXVIII) y, como se ve, introducida por mano posterior a la del copista de BNE 5814.

Folios 171v y 172r del ms. BNE 5814

Imagen 5: Folios 171v y 172r del ms. BNE 5814 con la rúbrica en el margen inferior de Ambrosio Mexia, escribano público, que comprobó la concordancia entre el original de imprenta de Villadiego y el manuscrito que en aquel momento se encontraba en la librería de la catedral de Toledo.

La identificación de este manuscrito permite ahora a los investigadores al menos dos cosas: controlar la calidad de la edición de Villadiego, tan a menudo criticada por editores posteriores, y valorar la decisión del siguiente editor del Fuero Juzgo en el tiempo: Andrés Marcos Burriel (1755), que prefirió editar el manuscrito de Murcia. La lista completa de concordancias entre denominaciones antiguas y signaturas actuales de los testimonios que nos han transmitido el Fuero Juzgo aclarará a toda persona interesada por este texto a qué manuscritos exactamente han hecho referencia desde hace décadas estudiosos que nos han dejado lecciones importantes sobre la ley visigótica en romance utilizando la nomenclatura de la edición de la RAE (pensamos en Yolanda García López 1996 y en José Manuel Pérez Prendes 1957) o la de Floranes (Mª Luz Alonso Martín 1983 y 1985). La incorporación a PhiloBiblon de nuestras concordancias garantiza que esta información esté a partir de ahora fácilmente accesible para toda la comunidad científica.

Obras citadas

– Alonso Martín, Mª Luz (1983), ‟Nuevos datos sobre el Fuero o Libro castellano: Notas para su estudio”, Anuario de Historia del Derecho Español LIII, 423-445.

– Alonso Martín, Mª Luz (1985), ‟Observaciones sobre el Fuero de los Castellanos y las leyes de Nuño González”, Anuario de Historia del Derecho Español LV, 773-781.

– Burriel, Andrés Marcos (1755), Fuero Juzgo ò Codigo de las leyes que los reyes godos promulgaron en España. Traducido del original latino en lenguage castellano antiguo por mandado del Santo Rey D.n Fernando III.º, copiado de un exemplar autentico del Archivo de la Ciudad de Murcia, y de otros tres mss. antiquisimos de la libreria de la S.ta Iglesia de Toledo, ajustado al original latino, ilustrado, y corregido por el P.e Andrès Marcos Burriel de la Comp. de Jesus, Manuscrito BNE 683.

– Camino Martínez, Carmen del (2018), ‟Notarios, escritura y libros jurídicos. Algunas consideraciones”, en Miguel Calleja-Puerta y María Luisa Domínguez-Guerrero (eds.), Escritura, notariado y espacio urbano en la Corona de Castilla y Portugal (siglos xii-xvii), Gijón, Trea, 63-79.

– Camino Martínez, Carmen del (2021), ‟En torno al Libro de Nuño González y algunos manuscritos toledanos del Fuero Juzgo”, en Juan Carlos Galende Díaz (dir.) y Nicolás Ávila Seoane (coord.), Libro homenaje al profesor don Ángel Riesco Terrero, Madrid, ANABAD Federación y Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 65-74.

 – Camino Martínez, Carmen del (2022), ‟El erudito, el calígrafo y dos ejemplares dieciochescos del Fuero Juzgo”, comunicación presentada en el coloquio Los manuscritos del Fuero Juzgo: abordaje interdisciplinar, Université de Lausanne, 11-12 de noviembre de 2022.

– Castillo Lluch, Mónica (2022), ‟La tradición manuscrita del Fuero Juzgo: una visión de conjunto”, comunicación presentada con Charles Mabille en el XII Congreso Internacional de Historia de la Lengua Española, Universidad de León, 16 de mayo de 2022.

– Castillo Lluch, Mónica (2023), ‟The Visigothic Code and the Fuero Juzgo: The Transmission and Translation of Law from Latin to Romance”, conferencia pronunciada en Yale University, 28 de abril de 2023.

– Castillo Lluch, Mónica y Mabille, Charles (2021), ‟El Fuero Juzgo en el ms. BNE 683 (1755) de Andrés Marcos Burriel”, Scriptum digital 10, 75-107.

– Castillo Lluch, Mónica y Mabille, Charles (en prensa), ‟Hacia un stemma codicum del Fuero Juzgo desde el Humanismo hasta hoy”, en Actas del XII Congreso Internacional de Historia de la Lengua Española.

 – Castillo Lluch, Mónica y García López, Yolanda (en prensa), ‟The Visigothic Code and the Fuero Juzgo: The Transmission and Translation of Law from Latin to Romance”, en Noel Lenski y Damián Fernández (eds.), Lex Visigothorum, Cambridge University Press.

– Floranes, Rafael (1780) Fuero Juzgo. Manuscrito cotejado con varios exemplares, Manuscrito BNE 10344.

– Fradejas Rueda, José Manuel (2021), ‟Los testimonios castellanos de las Siete Partidas”, en José Manuel Fradejas Rueda, Enrique Jerez Cabrero, y Ricardo Pichel (eds.), Las Siete Partidas del Rey Sabio: una aproximación desde la filología digital y material, Madrid/Frankfurt, Iberoamericana/Vervuert, 21-35.

– García Blanco, Manuel (1927), Dialectalismos leoneses de un Códice del Fuero Juzgo, Salamanca, Imp. Silvestre Ferreira.

– García López, Yolanda (1996), Estudios críticos y literarios de la Lex Wisigothorum, Alcalá de Henares, Servicio de publicaciones de la Universidad de Alcalá.

– Mencé, Corinne (1996), Fuero juzgo (Manuscrit Z.iii.6 de la Bibliothèque de San Lorenzo de El Escorial), 3 vols., Lille, ANRT.

– Orazi, Verónica (1997), El dialecto leonés antiguo (edición, estudio lingüístico y glosario del Fuero Juzgo según el ms. Escurialense Z.iii.21), Madrid, Universidad Europea-CEES Ediciones.

– Pérez-Prendes Muñoz de Arraco, José Manuel (1957), La versión romanceada del Liber Iudiciorum. Algunos datos sobre sus variantes y peculiaridades, Tesis doctoral inédita dirigida por Manuel Torres López, Madrid, Universidad Complutense.

– Real Academia Española (ed.) (2015 [1815]), Fuero Juzgo en latín y castellano, cotejado con los más antiguos y preciosos códices, con estudio preliminar de Santos M. Coronas González, Madrid, Agencia Oficial Boletín Oficial del Estado.

– Villadiego Vascuñana y Montoya, Alonso (1600), Forus antiquus gothorum regnum Hispaniae, olim Liber Iudicum hodie Fuero Iuzgo nuncupatus, Madrid, Pedro Madrigal.

– Zarco Cuevas, Julián (1924, 1926, 1929, 3 vols.), Catálogo de los manuscritos castellanos de la Real Biblioteca de El Escorial dedicado a S.M. el rey don Alfonso XIII, Madrid, Imprenta Helénica (vols 1 y 2) y San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Imprenta del Real Monasterio de El Escorial (vol. 3).


Reflecting on Two Transformative Years as an Undergraduate Library Fellow

By Timothy Kim, Undergraduate Library Research Fellow, 2023-2024

As my time as an Undergraduate Library Fellow (ULF) at the UC Berkeley library comes to a close, I look back with gratitude to the lessons I’ve learned over the past two years. This role has not only shaped my understanding of academic research, but I’ve also gained invaluable skills of empathy, teaching, and most importantly learning. 

As an inexperienced ULF, I had a lot of ideas about what solutions to try and what projects to take on but not a strong understanding of the role of an ULF. This spark of interest is what helped the undergraduate research fellows work on and develop the Bancroft Library User Experience project and Wayfinding project among many others, as we developed ways to improve how library services were utilized. Having the inexperience is what allowed us fellows to draw up creative ideas and try to find pain points and inefficiencies in how students and researchers used the library. 

Simultaneously, as the other research fellows and I gained experience, we also learned the ropes of teaching in front of classes of our fellow peers on how to conduct Research 101 basics. Through carefully observing the students taking the class, I learned where to anticipate potential problems people might have, as well as those who wouldn’t necessarily bring up their obstacles in the first place.

As I gained more experience through my second year, I eventually transitioned to conducting more one-on-one peer advising. Armed with a deeper understanding of how people learn, I approached teaching with a renewed perspective and confidence. This year was about action—applying theories and techniques I had learned in real-world scenarios and refining them through experience. Every visiting student came with unique challenges and learning styles. This experience taught me the importance of adaptability and empathy in educational settings. It was through these personal interactions that I rediscovered the joy of learning and the satisfaction of helping others achieve their academic goals.

The skills I’ve acquired extend far beyond the walls of Doe library. Learning to teach and communicate effectively are abilities that I anticipate will influence various aspects of my life, from my future academic pursuits to professional endeavors. The ability to facilitate learning and foster understanding is an invaluable tool I will always carry with me.

As I reflect on my time as a ULF, I cannot help but be extremely grateful to the program and its coordinators for its success in not only providing a service to the student body but also in educating me and the other fellows in mentorship and teaching. I believe through the program’s unique and diverse projects I’ve emerged as a more competent and confident individual.


Rekindling Creativity: Embracing Mistakes, Forming Connections, and Rediscovering Joy

By Sydney Hardister, Undergraduate Library Making Fellow, 2023-2024

Reflecting on my journey as a library fellow, I’m struck by how my experience has mirrored my own personal desire to reignite my passion for creating. Initially drawn to the Makerspace with little knowledge of what it entailed, I embarked on this journey with a simple intention: to rediscover the joy of making. Little did I know that this decision would lead me down a path of self-discovery, friendship, and skill development.

In the vibrant atmosphere of the Makerspace, I found not only a place for experimentation but also a community of like-minded individuals who shared my enthusiasm for creativity. Here, making mistakes wasn’t just accepted; it was celebrated as a natural part of the learning process. Through countless hours of crocheting, knitting, and exploring various crafts, I learned the invaluable lesson that failure is not an endpoint but rather a stepping stone toward growth.

Perhaps the most unexpected aspect of my fellowship was the opportunity to share my newfound skills with others through leading workshops. Teaching became a means of deepening my own understanding of the art forms I had embraced, while simultaneously fostering connections with fellow makers. These interactions underscored the importance of community and collaboration in the creative process, reminding me of the joy that comes from both sharing knowledge and learning from others.

With each new craft I embraced in the Makerspace, I could feel myself falling deeper and deeper in love with creating. From crocheting to stamp making, each project served as a catalyst for my creative journey, inspiring a cascade of new ideas and endeavors. Before long, I found myself immersed in a whirlwind of projects, each one fueling my enthusiasm and drive to create. This steady flow of creativity became a source of calm and contentment in my life, offering a sense of fulfillment that I had long yearned for. Beyond simply acquiring new skills, my time in the Makerspace served to center me both as an individual and as a creative, reaffirming the profound love that comes from bringing imagination to life through craft and creation.

Ultimately, my time as a library fellow has been a testament to the transformative power of creativity and community. Through the ups and downs of this journey, I’ve learned to trust myself, follow my passions, and embrace the joy of making. As I look back on my time here, I am filled with gratitude for the friendships formed, the skills acquired, and the endless possibilities that lie ahead in my creative endeavors.


Reflecting on ULF: Moving Forward

By Sofia Hernandez, Undergraduate Library Research Fellow, 2023-2024

I joined the ULF program three years ago as an emerging sophomore, eager to enter the world of university libraries. I am now entering the final stretch of my undergraduate career, time flies when you’re having fun! Throughout these last three years, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside like-minded Fellows and passionate librarians to bridge the gap between the undergraduate population at Cal and research. 

In the past year, the Research fellows began our in-person Research Appointments to aid other undergraduates in getting started with navigating university resources to conduct research, an entry point that is often inaccessible to the larger undergraduate population. Rather than meeting with faculty members, students at the library had the option of connecting with a peer (AKA us!) for support in their assignments. In connecting with other undergraduates through the Fellow’s Research Appointments, I learned how to adapt to various learning styles and adjust my support/advice on a case-by-case basis.

This academic year, the Research Fellows were given the opportunity to lead between 3-4 “Research 101” workshops per semester in addition to hosting Research Appointments. Before our first workshop, I remember feeling incredibly nervous at the thought of presenting to a room full of students. However, the nerves quickly settled as I began to teach at the front of the class. Hosting Research 101 is similar to our Research Appointments; both provide a safe space for undergraduates to ask questions about the library and their writing without the fear of being judged by an adult figure of authority. Leading Research 101’s quickly became my favorite part of the fellowship. After a workshop, I’d often say to Avery (my most frequent Research 101 partner) that the front of the Doe 223 classroom often felt like a stage and we were the performers–that’s how much fun I had talking to folks! With each workshop, we’d continuously try to improve upon and even experiment with the flow of the presentations. We’d make adjustments to the order of slides, experiment with switching speaking roles, and most importantly, connect with our attendees at the end similarly to our one-on-one Research Appointments.

As I approach my upcoming graduation, I’ve had time to reflect on my participation on campus and can confidently say that I have left my mark at the Berkeley library. This upcoming fall, I will continue to foster my passion for librarianship as a MLIS graduate student. Though my time working at Berkeley’s libraries is coming to an end, I will continue to remain committed to the mission of providing equitable and transformative support for library patrons and students, one library at a time!

 


Reflection

By Avery Klauke, Undergraduate Library Research Fellow, 2023-2024

With my time as a Berkeley student winding down, I wanted to reflect on the past year and my undergraduate experience. 

Throughout the past year, the overarching theme for the research fellows was to take initiative in the projects that interested us. For me, co-teaching Research 101 workshops was high on my priority list, as I saw this as one of the best opportunities to engage with as many students as possible. I recognized that the importance of these workshops lay in their ability to provide insight into the library system while also providing students with an open forum to ask questions. Additionally, the research fellows met with various librarians to provide a student perspective on library spaces to make them more welcoming and accessible. In essence, my goal for this year was to contribute, in any capacity, to the libraries and the general Berkeley community.

While writing these reflections, I often focus on what we research fellows have contributed, but I also wanted to highlight how Berkeley (and by extension this position) has given back to me.

My experience started the same as everyone else’s, as my freshman year at Berkeley was akin to throwing me into flaming chaos. General confusion mixed with lots of looming pandemic anxiety is how I would describe it. People always say college is the best time of your life or it’s where you ‘find yourself,’ (however you choose to take that) but unsurprisingly, no one tells you where to start. And as someone who thrives off consistency, finding my “niche” here was important.

Becoming a research fellow gave me consistency that I had never experienced before. It was similar to an extended group project, but unlike some randomized assignments in those required lower-level classes, everyone contributed consistently. Where I would draw a blank after a student’s question, the other fellows could offer their insight; likewise, I stepped up in their moments of need. To be expected, being a research fellow helped me hone my ability to work with and for others (something I’ve learned is a skill not everyone possesses). But it also taught me little lessons like how to improvise, adapt, and not focus on something so much that I lose sight of the big picture. I anticipate using these skills frequently as I leave the past 18 years of schooling behind.


Expanding my Creative Horizons at the Makerspace

By Ava Gessl, Undergraduate LibraryMaking Fellow, 2023-2024

A large part of my Berkeley experience has revolved around lectures, exams, and assignments. However, the Makerspace has become a creative outlet for me and many other undergraduates. This year, I have had the opportunity to help plan and execute workshops, including learning to crochet in order to teach others. I think that for anyone who wants to find a creative outlet at Berkeley, the Makerspace is an amazing place to explore and learn new skills, and I am happy that I have had the opportunity to be a part of it for another year. What I’ve come to appreciate most about teaching sewing, crochet, and every other craft offered at the Makerspace is the gratification it brings to students. I think the Makerspace is an important part of student life at Berkeley. It is the perfect place whether someone wants to learn a new skill or have a space to pursue a craft they already know. By sharing my passion for crafting and providing a supportive learning environment, I hope to inspire other students to unleash their creativity and pursue their projects with confidence.

As a library fellow, I have had the opportunity to share my passion based on over a decade of sewing experience, and use my learning process in crochet to help others. Learning crochet for the Granny Square Workshop was challenging but fun. It is always good to put yourself into the shoes of someone learning a new skill to remember what it’s like. I was able to apply the mistakes and tricks I learned to help new crocheters in the Granny Square and Crochet Rose workshops. It was exciting to work with students new to crochet and see them use what I learned to transform yarn into something beautiful. This felt different than teaching sewing in the T-shirt Tote Bag or providing one-on-one sewing help because of my years of sewing experience. My prior experience has helped me assist with a wide range of problems and projects. However it has also made it harder for me to remember what it was like to be a beginner. Threading a sewing machine is now a trivial step for me, but I must always remember to go slow, explain all my steps, and why when introducing someone to a sewing machine. I love both teaching experiences and how they each inform each other about what is the best way to teach a new skill and provide the most helpful advice and support. I hope to be able to provide a mixture of guidance that comes from mastering a craft with the perspective of someone who just started in order to give tips that are not obvious but extremely helpful to a beginner. 

This year my making journey has focused more on learning new skills, both crafting and organizing. This process has been dynamic and not without bumps, but I think that it helped me be a more effective library fellow. I found a way to master the vinyl cutter, or specifically its unwillingness to connect to my computer. I am happy with how learning crochet has opened a door for me to help students learn a skill that is on the rise with undergraduates. Taking a more active role in designing and working with my library fellows in workshops has been a rewarding process of logistics, effective communication, and troubleshooting unexpected student hurdles. Working in a workshop environment with  time constraints has forced me to streamline my teaching process and ability to quickly move between students at different levels of experience. In the Crochet Rose Workshop I worked with students who had never crocheted before and their enthusiasm for creating a chain with even stitches was another reminder that every step in a creative process is important and worth celebrating. As a library fellow, I’ve had to be patient and supportive, guiding students through the process step by step, encouraging them to persevere, and quickly troubleshoot unexpected problems. It has been a practice in tailoring my teaching approach to meet the diverse learning styles and skill levels of the students. Overall, working in the Makerspace and helping students learn has been an incredibly fulfilling experience. It’s not just about teaching a crafting skill, it’s about fostering creativity and community. I look forward to continuing to share my passion for sewing and learning alongside the students in the Makerspace. 


My Makerspace Journey

By Adelaide Phillips, Undergraduate Library Making Fellow, 2023-2024

I started working in the Makerspace in Fall 2022 during my junior year at Cal. I’m graduating this Spring as an architecture major meaning most of my education was design and model making. The Makerspace has provided me with so many resources and learning opportunities like leading workshops, utilizing new tools, and providing peer-to-peer design tips these past two years. I’m truly going to miss this space when I leave Berkeley.

During my time as a library fellow, I’ve learned how to operate various equipment like 3D printers, vinyl cutters, button makers, sewing machines, and more! This work would not be possible without guidance from dedicated Makerspace staff. Whether assisting fellow makers with their projects or navigating the challenges of a physical move and leadership transitions, the Makerspace has been a constant source of inspiration and learning. This space would not be what it is without the people and the students who make wonderful projects here every week. I always enjoy bringing friends to the Makerspace and seeing them get so excited about all the cool equipment and supplies we have to offer! Helping out my friends 3D print tiny stairs or do some last-minute pieces for their architectural models is so rewarding. I love seeing the look on their faces when they see the 3D printers zooming away.

The Makerspace has also been a great place for my personal projects. Whether it’s 3D printing pieces for an architecture model, hemming my graduation dress on the sewing machines, or crocheting a new pillow while learning to make granny squares; the Makerspace has provided me with all the resources I need and more! The craft guides I and the other Making fellows have compiled over the past couple of years have been a great resource for me and my peers. Additionally, learning how to lead workshops, like our Crochet Rose and Grad Cap Decorating workshops, has been a wonderful opportunity to develop my leadership and teaching skills.

Another one of my favorite things about working in the Makerspace is getting to help so many people on so many different projects. I’ve been able to hone my problem-solving skills and think on my feet. Finding solutions where there seems to be none; and never saying no to any idea! Like I said, I’m truly going to miss the Makerspace after I graduate but I will take with me the lessons it has taught me as I embark on my professional career.