Digital Services Section New Staff Introduction Series

Since the start of 2017, several new staff members have joined the Digital Services Section. All of us will be making regular blog posts on History For All the People, so we thought it would be nice for each of us to introduce ourselves, describe our roles in DSS, and preview the projects we’re working on.

Introducing Sara Pezzoni: Metadata and Digitization Assistant in the Digital Services Section

My first few weeks here have been a whirlwind of excitement, and I’m so happy to be here! I am a homegrown Tar Heel, grew up in Raleigh, and completed my BA in Communication Studies with a minor in English from UNCW. I also received my MLIS from Florida State University, which I completed through online courses. I look forward to working in Digital Services and undertaking associated challenges brought about by issues surrounding information lifecycle management, long-term retrievability, and access.

Before coming to the State Archives, I would say I’ve kept fairly busy in searching for my “place.” Like most in this field, I feel as though I have had many different past lives before focusing on archival work—I guess that’s what happens when you have a wide variety of interests pulling you in several different directions. I first fell in love with photography as a teenager, and decided I would give news photography a try at my college newspaper, which later led me into a photographer position post-college at a newspaper in Kinston, NC. I fell in love with telling stories through the art of photography, but never truly felt like it was the career path for me. Straight out of college, I side-tracked into a part-time position at a small publishing company due to my minor in English and interests in editing/writing—also not quite the desired career path for me. I then interned for a few months at NCMA in the Education Department to see if working with art as opposed to creating art was a better option for me. This experience led me to explore other opportunities in the world of art and photography, and I began two simultaneous internships at the National Archives II in College Park, MD and Magnum Photos in NYC—all while working on my MLIS. I might not have had much time to sleep, but that didn’t seem to matter at the time.

At the National Archives, I worked as a Processing Intern in Textual Records where I was assigned a project dedicated to cataloging and digitizing patent labels from Record Group 241, Records of the Patent and Trademark Office, within the “Case Files for Registered Product Labels, 1874-1940” series (NAID 563415). I processed original box/label designs from the 1930s with items from companies like Wheaties, Milkbone, Coca-Cola, Kleenex, ACME, Bisquick… the list goes on. During this time, I was also busy working with materials within the massive photographic archive of Magnum Photos. At Magnum, I assisted in maintaining their digital content management system and analog image archive by cataloging, digitizing, and describing photographs within the collection, and also assigned metadata to image files in the online catalog for improved accessibility and discoverability. Hand-delivering priceless negatives to Philippe Halsman’s daughter was just a part of my “other duties as assigned.”

I continued interning at the National Archives for a little while longer and swapped my internship at Magnum with an internship at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art working as a Collections Processing Intern. From my time there, I developed my first finding aid for the Sidney C. Woodward papers and helped process a few other collections like the Art Foundry records and the Ray Yoshida papers. While I loved every minute of my internships in the mecca for museums, I’ve always been a Carolina girl at heart so I figured it was time for me to come back to my roots.

After receiving my MLIS, I started as a part-time project photo archivist at the Forest History Society in Durham, NC where I managed and expanded their newly launched Repeat Photography Project. This project involved researching external collections and acquiring photographic materials for inclusion in the project’s image database for users to access, compare, and interpret the cataloged forestry-related images for their own research needs. My time at FHS certainly fueled my love for photography and brought my dreams of becoming a photographic archivist to life for a short while.

After this 6-year journey of crafting a career around my passions, it seems as though each of these drastically diverse experiences have ultimately led me to where I had hoped to be—pursuing a profession dedicated to helping others grow and progress in their search for information. Here at the State Archives, I will be compiling blog posts for History for All the People, assisting with metadata and web edits, and processing materials from the General Assembly Session Records collection. Needless to say, I am very excited to be here and I look forward to starting on the many different projects this position has in store for me!