By Monica Orozco, SBMAL Director
The time is now to apply for our paid Summer internship established in honor of Fr. Maynard Geiger, OFM, who served as SBMAL archivist for 40 years.
The Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library has two origin stories. The first origin of the Archive dates back to the founding of Mission Santa Bárbara and the years that followed when the majority of our mission-related documents were generated and when many of the books in our antique book collection arrived with the friars and served as their reference library. But the more recent origin story begins in the latter part of the 20th century with the establishment of the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library as a not-for-profit historical institution located in a newly added wing of the historic Mission. A major force behind this second phase was archivist and historian Fr. Maynard Geiger, OFM.
Joseph Geiger (1901-1977) was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but his family subsequently moved to Southern California. In 1919 Maynard Geiger arrived at St. Anthony’s Preparatory Seminary in Santa Barbara as a candidate for the Order of the Friars Minor (Franciscan Order). He took the religious name of Maynard four years later when he professed. He went on to study philosophy, he was ordained as a priest, taught at the Seminary, and then completed his doctoral degree in history at Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. in 1937.
Upon completing his doctoral studies, Fr. Geiger was appointed archivist at Mission Santa Bárbara and he held that position for the next 40 years. During his years as archivist he continued his scholarly work, publishing numerous books, articles, and pamphlets on California Mission History. But one of his dreams as archivist was to see a modern facility built to house the thousands of documents and books that had accumulated at Mission Santa Bárbara. This dream finally came to fruition thanks to the the hard work, dedication, and generosity of many friends. In 1968 the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library was incorporated and registered as a not-for-profit historical institution and in October of 1970 a dedication ceremony was held to mark the completion of the new facility.
Fr. Geiger’s work and spirit are still very much a part of SBMAL. Many handwritten transcriptions or translations of documents are in his very neat hand which is immediately recognizable. It was his hard work that gave us our Calendar of Documents, the description of our major document collections. And I, and other directors of SBMAL that succeeded him, still use his desk. His portrait hangs in our foyer, and it is not unusual for his nieces and nephews and their children to visit his old office at SBMAL.
In honor of Fr. Geiger and his decades of work as archivist and historian, the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library Board of Trustees established the Geiger Memorial Summer Internship. This paid internship is intended to offer an opportunity for undergraduate or graduate students to gain experience working in an archive and who are considering further studies or career in public history, library and information technology, archive management, or museum studies. If you are someone you know are interested in finding out more about the Geiger Memorial Summer Internship, please visit our website (www.sbmal.org) for more information. The deadline for applications is May 12, 2014.