Today’s interview is with Drue Edney, an intern in the Digital Resources Division of the Law Library of Congress through the Library of Congress Internship program (LOCI).
Describe your background.
I was born and raised in Brawley, California, right on the borders of Mexico and Arizona, situated in the Imperial Valley. Brawley has two seasons: hot and hotter. My maternal great grandparents settled there during the Great Migration because the Imperial Valley was a major destination point for Free Blacks, fleeing the racial injustices of the south. Three generations of my family were raised on the same property right on the border of Mexico. We were the only African American family on our street, and although the neighborhood was primarily Spanish speaking, I grew up speaking both English and Spanish from my early childhood. I therefore grew up, biracial, bicultural, and bilingual, all of which have been, without a doubt, the impetus to study romance languages, literatures and cultures and to combine that interest with my particular desire to promote African American history in my work.
What is your academic/professional history?
I attended both UC Berkeley and the University of Oregon (UO) for undergraduate degrees in humanities and Spanish. Returning to the UO, I taught Spanish as a second language while I earned my M.A. in Romance languages. I am currently working on my dissertation, which is a project that highlights Blackness in Medieval Iberian and Colonial Latin American literature. While I finish my dissertation for a Ph.D. in Medieval Spanish literature at Georgetown University, I also teach Spanish language and literature at Georgetown and work as an intern at the Law Library of Congress.
How would you describe your job to other people?
I work in the Digital Resources Division in the Law Library of Congress through an internship program known as the Library of Congress Internship program (LOCI). I work on the “Miscellaneous Hispanic Legal Documents” collection (which is similar, but unrelated to the Herencia collection). I provide basic metadata for the documents prior to their conservation and eventual digitization. In other words, I get to read documents spanning at least four centuries from all over Latin America and Spain. Because the documents are in Spanish and often handwritten, most people are unable to understand what the documents say. It is my job to identify the date and place of origin for the document in question and, where possible, provide a description of the content of the document.
Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?
I wanted to explore career opportunities outside of the typical tenure-track professorship for a person like myself with a Ph.D. in Spanish literature. I like the idea of scouring archives in libraries across the globe; therefore, a profession such as an archivist appeals to me. I can’t explain why the thought of getting to be one of the first people to set new eyes on old documents seems so thrilling to me, but now that I am here at the Library of Congress, the excitement is palpable.
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?
Because I am a Spanish literature and history aficionado, the Law Library’s Herencia collection is the most exciting resource I have learned about thus far. Called Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents, it spans the 15th through the 19th centuries. The majority of these documents are related to disputes over inheritance and noble titles. However, the documents pertaining to the Spanish Inquisition are of particular interest to me. While these briefs represent state and church interests, they nevertheless capture representations of oppressed people –like women or people of Jewish or African descent, and these snapshots in time can be reinterpreted as humanizing. This collection has also been made available online so that the public can read them and try their hand at transcription if they like.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
Because I am an introvert, I think my co-workers would be surprised to know that I teach Afro-Cuban dance and have performed with several dance groups at many festivals and fundraisers. Most recently my dance friends and I performed and gave dance lessons on the Spirit of Baltimore, a cruise ship docked here in the DMV.
Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.