Hello et bonjour! My name is Maïa Céline Peterson, I am a French-American from California and have now found myself returning to my mother’s country to study books.
History has been my favorite subject and driving passion since childhood. At my undergraduate university in San Francisco, I obtained a bachelor’s degree in history with an interest in historiography. Thankfully my department was very flexible and allowed me to take classes in a variety of time periods and cultures. Officially, my historical focus was called « Global History », but it was only when I began my internship did I find something I wanted to specify. In my final year of undergraduate studies I worked for the California Academy of Sciences Library and Archive where I was introduced to my first rare books archive. I was fascinated by the content collected by the museum and the mass amount of information stored for their historical, educational, and cultural importance. Interacting with books and other artifacts kept by the museum made me realize that this was the kind of work I wanted to do – as there’s nothing quite like touching history.
With tangible history in mind, I researched master’s programs about archival sciences in the summer of 2019 and found two that greatly stuck out to me. One of them was the Rare Books and Digital Humanities program in Besançon. I ended up choosing a different program which I attended virtually in the beginning of 2021. Unfortunately, or, thanks to COVID-19, depending on your point of view, I left this program and applied to Besançon.
I never thought I would go to school in France, but my experience here has been shaped directly by the global pandemic. Due to the intensity of online information and resources I needed to study in a program that provided the tools to digitize records that are not accessible to the public. Not only that, but the RBDH Program has already provided me with hands-on education that my previous institution could not and would not have until later on. Circumstance brought me here, and my desire to interact with history will carry me through.
Check out my favorite rare book moments from San Francisco to Besançon!