About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.

Transit Tuesday: New York Penn Station

New York Penn Station, thy name is Melancholy. More than one website chronicles the beauty lost that was Penn Station, so I’ll skip the details about McKim, Mead, and White, Jane Jacobs, and Madison Square Garden. But every time I … Continue reading

Museum Monday – The Empire Ranch Foundation, Sonoita, AZ

  My great uncle started a cattle ranch near Sonoita, Arizona in 1952. Sonoita isn’t a town with one traffic light; it’s a town with no traffic lights. It’s located at the crossroads of AZ Routes 82 and 83  in … Continue reading

Railroads: What’s Your Sign?

Cafe Witteveen (run by friend Jeremy W.) featured a website dedicated to the insignias of railroads long gone by. Honoring my Maryland roots, here’s a Baltimore & Ohio insignia from 1945: This reminded me of a job Walker Evans did in … Continue reading

Vaccination – for one, for everyone

The year is 2012. One of the greatest inventions to bolster human health – vaccinations – are a part of history. Scientists have spent over two hundred years creating vaccinations to prevent lethal and crippling diseases that threatened families, towns, … Continue reading

Trainscribbling – Moving and Writing.

When I leave the city, it’s either on a plane or a train. On a plane, you have little sense of forward travel once you’ve reached cruising altitude. Everyone channels sardine-ism for a number of hours, and the landscape below … Continue reading

What’s on the Menu? at NYPL – Fun and Volunteerism for Foodies

For those of us into food history, the New York Public Library has a fondant of a project: online transcription of their menu collection. Repositories such as libraries and archives are trying to meet the demand for online access to … Continue reading

Transit Tuesday : Hurray for the Streetcars of Toronto

  During a short business trip to Toronto, I had the pleasure of getting around town on their streetcar system. Unlike American streetcar systems destroyed by the National City Lines/General Motors streetcar conspiracy, Toronto’s streetcar system is intact due to … Continue reading

It’s Here! The 1940 Census

In April of 1940, there were just over 132 million Americans. Today, after the obligatory 72 year wait to protect the privacy of the living, the National Archives and Records Administration will open the records that documented the basic details … Continue reading

Downton Abbey is Hot – Now for some real servants.

I fully expect Masterpiece Classic’s Downton Abbey to inspire the costume choices of many next Halloween (see my post on Downton Halloween costumes). Dr. V and I clung to the compelling story lines from above and below stairs every Sunday evening. … Continue reading