Staff Spotlight on… Toni Vanden Bos!

If you’ve only seen them in movies, you might have an image in your mind of an archivist as someone who works alone, dusting old artifacts. You might be surprised to find that, in addition to working with the historical collections, Toni Vanden Bos, Archivist and Preservation and Cataloging Manager for Special Collections and Archives (SC&A), spends a good deal of time interacting with people, teaching, writing, and presenting. 

Toni is responsible for preserving archival materials as well as assessing the archives environment, prioritizing preservation work, and performing basic preservation techniques such as humidification and flattening, encapsulation, and providing supportive housing for numerous archival formats. She also works with the collections manager to develop and implement the digital preservation program, as well as catalogs manuscript collections, manages gift books and journals, arranges and describes collections, provides reference assistance, and assists with special events as needed.

Toni is a lifelong learner, who always wanted to be a professional student. As a History major in her undergraduate years, she became fascinated by primary source materials -what she calls the “real stuff” of history – the letters, diaries, reports, scrapbooks, albums, audio and moving images created at the time events were happening. Now Toni helps make the history of the Miami Valley region and the history of aviation available to the students, faculty, and staff at Wright State, and the larger global community.  Toni loves to see students, community members, visitors to the SC&A Reading Room, and researchers get excited about the collections. Anyone can come in and request anything and experience the process of exploring and forming their own conclusions. They experience history first-hand, learn from it, and share it through projects, research, and their own stories and family histories.

 Some of Toni’s favorite collections include:
  • The Jane Reece collection, a collection of over 10,000 images on film and glass plate negatives made by a world-renowned Dayton photographer in the early 20th century. It includes portraits of famous natives of the Miami Valley at the time, as well as her own studies in composing artistic poses. Most of the negatives are retouched by Reece’s hand.
  • The Inland Children’s Chorus collection, which features programs, photographs, audio recordings, clippings, memorabilia and more donated by many members of the original chorus, founded by Inland Manufacturing in 1936, active until 1970.
  • The Ivonette Wright Miller collection, the personal papers of the Wright brothers’ neice which includes 18 reels of Wright Family home movies, with scenes of Orville Wright’s nephews sledding at Hawthorne Hill, and what was likely Orville’s last Christmas. Toni was part of the team that got to share these films with Tom Hanks when he visited. 
Toni’s quick tips for preserving and organizing your files, photos, and other keepsakes:
  1. Make controlling temperature and humidity your top priority. At home, a temperature of 70 degrees or cooler and a relative humidity of 30-50% will prolong the life of your family treasures. Avoid areas of the home that experience big swings in temperature and humidity in different seasons, such as attics, and against outside walls;
  2. Reduce exposure to light as much as possible. Light damage is cumulative and irreversible. When displaying family treasures for the long term, consider using a high quality copy.
  3. Monitor/control for pests. Did you know… mice, insects, and other critters eat and nest in paper? Avoid storing materials in garages and damp basements where the risk of pests is greater.
  4. Use archival-quality materials for storage. Not sure what to use? Ask an Archivist!
We learned so much from Toni during our interview. Here are some more fun facts:
  • Toni and the other archivists teach archival skills to graduate students in the History Department who are going into Public History. Toni teaches archival preservation.
  • Toni’s position requires collaboration with various library departments and units on campus, including (but not limited to): The library’s Digital Initiatives and Repository Services, Content Acquisition and Management, Library Computing Services, University Facilities Management and Services, and The Wright State Foundation, among others.
  • The archives receives all kinds of reference requests from the scholarly to the treasure hunt. Because SC&A is the home of the Dayton Daily News Archive, Toni once helped a patron find a personal ad she placed in the Dayton Daily News in the 1980s, which led to her meeting and marrying her husband. (For anyone too young to remember personal ads, think of it as analog-Bumble.) The patron planned to use the ad for their wedding anniversary celebration.
For fun, Toni likes to attend her sons’ baseball and hockey games and enjoys watching the teams’ camaraderie and progress over the course of the season. When she was their age, her favorite book was the Encyclopedia Brown series. If you think about it, it makes sense that someone who loves a good mystery was drawn to the archives.