4th year, Undergraduate Student
College of Liberal Arts, Anthropology major
I actually had no idea the CoLA internship existed. One day, I got lucky and came across Liberal Arts courses in the Class Search on WINGS Express. Curious, I looked to see what classes were offered. That is when I discovered the course called “Internship for Liberal Arts” and decided that I should investigate what this was all about. The internship itself is managed by Wayne Stark, who is the Director of Workforce Development for CoLA. When I met with Dawne Dewey, the Head of Special Collections & Archives (SC&A) for the first time, we came up with a basic outline of what I would do in the internship and then coordinated those plans with Wayne. After filling out some paperwork, I was allowed to become an intern for SC&A.
Why did you want to be an intern at SC&A?
My first experience with archival research happened last semester in two of my classes: Archaeological Methods and Ohio History. I really enjoyed looking through old documents and researching with primary sources. I was used to writing papers with a journal article that tends to synthesize everything, leaving little emotion in it. However, when looking at primary source documents, there is a sense of connecting with either the person or the event. Having that attachment makes writing a paper more enjoyable.
After having that experience, I wanted to see what it was like to work within an archives. Learning how documents are preserved and how they are accessioned into the archives is very intriguing to me. I would even like to work in an archival setting once I am done with college. With this semester being my last as an undergrad, being an intern at SC&A was a no-brainer for me.
What are some of the projects you’ve worked on during your internship?
There are three main projects that I have worked on so far: alphabetizing the Dayton Daily News (DDN) collection; listening to and identifying interviews on cassette tapes; and cleaning old books.
The DDN collection is the project that I have worked on the most during the semester. The Dayton Daily News had given SC&A their collection of photographs and clippings, which included personality files. These personality files contain clippings of almost every person ever mentioned in the newspapers. Needless to say, that’s a lot of people who all have individual files. I have been working on alphabetizing the files by last name. Alphabetizing does not sound too hard, right? Well, initially the organization of these files was haphazard. For example, while interfiling under the letter “M”, I thought I was all done with “Miller”, but I would open the next three boxes and find more Millers. That was probably the most frustrated moment I have had with this project. It does take a certain patience to alphabetize all these files and being aware of what is in the next few boxes.
Another project that I worked on involved more alphabetizing. This time, there were audio cassettes involved! Remember cassette tapes and the “Be Kind, Please Rewind” policy? The topic of that collection was the Dayton-area feminist movement of the 1980s. There were interviews by Mary Morgan and Jan Griesinger, as well as many other activists. While I did not listen to the tapes all the way through, it was pretty neat listening to these women discuss their experiences. There were also some wild card tapes that I had no way of determining what they were about. There were a few tapes in other languages like French and Russian. Others just did not have any context to go on or any descriptive information. [These recordings are from the forthcoming Judith Ezekiel “Feminism in the Heartland” Research Collection, MS-507, for which processing has not yet been completed.]
The last project that I have been working on is cleaning old books, such as ledgers, cash books, and even records of employment. So far, I have finished MS-200 Adam Schantz, Sr. Estate Collection. What I clean on the books is the cover, the text block, and the spine. Once I am done cleaning, I wrap the books in a special paper that is 25% cotton. It always amazes me how much dust and decay these books have, but yet the text inside is in pretty good condition. I am slightly afraid that one of these days I will completely ruin the binding on some of these books, but that is why I am very careful while handling them! This is the type of archival work that I would love to get involved with in the future.
I enjoy the DDN collection, especially when I come across someone that I recognize, either because the person is famous or someone I know. For instance, I have come across Bette Midler’s file and even my uncle’s file. Plus, there is usually a little description of the person and sometimes they are funny or a little disturbing, but they are neat to read nonetheless. I just never know what kind of person I will come across in the files.
MS-458 Dayton Daily News Archive,
Personality Files, Craig Lyon (Lauren’s uncle).