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An Interview with Jacklyn van der Colff, Herencia Crowdsourcing Intern

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A photo of Jacklyn van der Colff wearing a white sweater with "NYU" written on it, and white flowers in the background.
Jacklyn van der Colff, an intern working on transcribing the Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents crowdsourcing campaign. [Photo provided by Jacklyn van der Colff]
Today’s interview is with Jacklyn van der Colff, an intern working on transcribing the Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents crowdsourcing campaign at the Law Library of Congress.

Describe your background.

In 1990, my parents immigrated from South Africa to Los Angeles, California, where I was born and lived up until moving to New York City for college last year. Growing up, I was often engrossed in many personal, artistic endeavors, whether that be painting, drawing, or sculpting. Taken in conjunction with being a first-generation American, my passion for the arts fed the development of my curiosity towards the intersectionality of cultures in terms of their artistic influences and historical implications. Additionally, I have a passion for animal rights and environmental protection. I have had the opportunity to work with both domestic and endangered species, such as gibbons, and hope to continue advocating for a more sustainable and equitable future.

What is your academic/professional history?

Currently, I am entering the second year of my undergraduate career majoring in art history and anthropology at New York University, and have an interest in pursuing law in my future studies. Before beginning university, I was a dedicated volunteer at several non-profit shelters as well as the Gibbon Conservation Center. Since then, I have continued to volunteer in the environmental and animal welfare sector as a Panda Ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund. At NYU, I am involved in several organizations, including the Fine Arts Society, and am serving the student body as a cohort president for the College of Arts and Sciences. Academically, in the last year, I have engaged with many historical materials from a plethora of cultures and periods; in particular, many pertaining to the artistic and political development of Italy and the Iberian Peninsula. This summer is my first time interning with the Library of Congress and I am thrilled to be working with the rich materials within the Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents crowdsourcing campaign. Looking ahead, this fall I plan to intern at a Scandinavian art and antiques gallery and look forward to incorporating my passion for the arts and society in future endeavors.

How would you describe your job to other people? 

As an intern, I focus primarily on transcribing, reviewing, and researching Spanish legal documents from the 17th and 18th centuries. Additionally, the transcription of new documents often includes collaborative explorations of linguistic and typographical nuisances from the period in an effort to preserve the highest level of historical and scholarly accuracy.

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

I wanted to work at the Library of Congress because of its vast collection of resources and its contributions to not only academia, but the world as a whole. While the Herencia Crowdsourcing internship initially sparked my interest because of its alignment with my academic interests, it is incredibly exciting to be working on materials that have already and will continue to lead to new discoveries and a better understanding of the sociopolitical climate of 17th-18th century Spain.

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

Within the Law Library’s Rare Book Collections there is a particularly fascinating special collection highlighting the medieval practice of reusing old manuscript fragments in the bindings of later books. As medieval manuscripts were made of vellum, an expensive material typically made of calf skin, this reapplication of used fragments allowed for a slightly more economically-friendly printing process.

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

I have been a vegetarian for almost two years now!

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