From Theory to Practice: A Summer Internship at the State Archives of North Carolina

[This blog post was written by Callie Davis, a summer intern from Meredith College.]

As a Public History minor at Meredith College, I decided to intern at the State Archives in the Digital Service Section. I wanted to learn more about how to apply public history outside of school, as well as learn more about the job duties of an archivist. I was assigned the task to start working on a science & technology digital collection using collections from the State Archives. I was very excited to begin work on this collection not only because of being a history major, but I am also getting a degree in the sciences field.

To start this project, I began researching public health, medicine and medical technology, aviation, and patents that were developed in North Carolina or by North Carolinians. I used these key subjects to look for items in the Manuscript and Archives References System (MARS) online catalog, the Guide to Private Manuscript Collections in the North Carolina State Archives, and other resources such as Private Collection or State Agency finding aids to find items that fit the scope of the science & technology digital collection. Once collections were identified and researched, I tagged each item that I found useful from the collections so it could be easily found and scanned later. I also created a spreadsheet that included detailed descriptions of each collection and items for future employees or volunteers working on the collection.

photograph is of William E. Thornton conducting research on the Challenger Space Shuttle

This photograph is of William E. Thornton conducting research on the Challenger space shuttle. During his time on the Challenger, he continued working on his studies of changes in the human body while in space. This image is from collection PC.2054.

I have complied various documents and photographs from the mid-1800s to the 1990s that range from photos of Carbine Williams with his M-1 Carbine, documentation on the North Carolina Hookworm campaign, patents of inventions dealing with radio, space equipment, farm machinery, equipment for textile mill, papers from the Bensen Aircraft’s gyro-glider, and William Thornton’s work with NASA. After finishing the research and tagging documents, I have been able to start the scanning process. The documents and pictures that will go in this collection must all be scanned. Information about items in this soon to be digital collection must also be written and put into the digital collections software to assist people who want to know more about the collection.

I have also had the opportunity to work on the 1901 Confederate Pension digital collection project. This semester, my honors thesis at Meredith College will be focusing on amputations during the American Civil War, and being able to assist with this side project has been fun since I enjoy learning more about the Civil War.

Being an intern at the archives has been one of the best opportunities and experiences of my college career. I have learned more about North Carolina history, which has complemented my passion in science and healthcare. I learned that you do not just have to be interested in public history to volunteer at the archives. I think it is important to be involved in your state’s history, and I have learned so much about North Carolina’s contributions through this volunteering experience.

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One thought on “From Theory to Practice: A Summer Internship at the State Archives of North Carolina

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