It has come to the point in my internship where--thanks to the Hispanic Access Foundation--I am working on-site at Harpers Ferry Center in West Virginia! While I usually work remotely, these past two weeks I've been spending my time in the office, meeting my coworkers, sorting through our history collection, and greatly expanding on what I've learned. This blog entry will cover what kind of work I've been doing and other things I've seen/learned about while in the office.
For starters, the first day I arrived in the office I was greeted by my supervisor (who I've now known for almost 11 months) and she took me on a tour of our collections. Although I am familar with documents/photos we have in our history collection, it was my first time seeing the old uniforms and artifacts we have on-site. The most memorable was probably the pen that President Woodrow Wilson used when he signed the act that established the National Park Service in 1916. But besides the history collection, I was given a tour of all the other departments housed in our building--such as the conservator's workplace, the registrar's office, and the old books collection. It was especially exciting to visit the conservation lab, as they were working on furniture items from the home of Mamie Eisenhower. A week before I came, they told us they'd been refurbishing the suit Abraham Lincoln had been when he was assassinated.
After my tour, I started working on my on-site assignment, which was to sort through and document old reports, notes, and newsletters published by parks from the mid 1900s. In an excel file I kept track of what type of information each item contained, scanning those of import and uploading them for future use. Some of these I'll be working on understanding better after I return home, some we'll save for researchers who request digital copies of our collections, and some we'll share with the public for anyone who may be interested to learn the details of these items. Regardless of how they're used, digitizing them is a big step towards making them accesssible, and therefore, more useful.
The experience of working hands-on with the collections and on-site with all my coworkers, has been incredibly motivational and an opportunity I will never forget. Harpers Ferry Center is not only a historically important place, but--after hiking various trail--I can testify that it's one of the most breathtaking places in the US. While I'll be returning home shortly, I know the knowledge I have gained and the friendships I have built with the other interns at Harpers Ferry will continue to grow and, hopefully, I'll haev to chance to return and visit another time in my career.
Agency: National Park Service
Program: Harpers Ferry Center Program
Location: Harpers Ferry Center for Media Services