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Interview with María Daniela Jiménez, Junior Fellow at the Law Library of Congress

Today’s interview is with María Daniela Jiménez. María Daniela is a Junior Fellow in the Collection Services Division at the Law Library of Congress.

Describe your background.

I was born and raised in Orange County, California, and have lived in the Bay Area, Arizona, Indiana, Mexico City, and Rome. I really enjoy moving.

What is your academic/professional history?

I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley and a Master of Arts degree in American Studies from Purdue University. Currently, I am a graduate student at UCLA where I completed a Master of Arts degree in Chicana/o Studies and a Master of Library and Information Science. I advanced to candidacy in my Ph.D. program in Chicana/o Studies this past May and plan to write my dissertation within the next two years.

María Daniela Jiménez [photo by Donna Sokol]

How would you describe your job to other people?

As a Junior Fellow at the Law Library of Congress, I am working on the Hispanic Legal Documents Collection that was acquired in the 1940s. The collection is large—over 90 boxes—and its content spans from the from the 15th century to the 19th century. The majority of the collection’s manuscripts are legal documents (property sales, testaments, legal notices), written in Spanish, from countries such as Mexico, Puerto Rico, Peru, and Spain.

My job is to read the documents and identify important information (dates, jurisdiction, location, parties involved) that can be used as access points for the collection—once it is processed and a finding aid is generated. There are also plans to digitize the materials. The metadata I am compiling will help make the content of the collection more retrievable.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?

Last summer, I had a wonderful experience completing the Latino Museum Studies Program Fellowship with the National Museum of American History’s Archives Center. I mentioned to my supervisor that I wanted to further develop my archival and library science experience with federal repositories, and she recommended the Library of Congress Junior Fellows Program.

I was particularly drawn to the Hispanic Legal Documents Collection project at the Law Library of Congress because I had never worked with materials that were created before the 1920s. Additionally, this project is allowing me to gain an introductory understanding of 16th century Spanish paleography—which has been a challenging, but rewarding, experience.

What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library?

I did not expect to encounter so many international collections at the Law Library. The holdings are quite impressive and draw in scholars from various countries throughout the year.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

I have yet to see any of the Star Wars films.

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