Today’s post is written by Dr. Tina Ligon, Archivist at the National Archives in College Park.
The unpaid internship program at the National Archives gives undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to experience actual archival work, under the guidance of an experienced archivist. Selected candidates work in the either the processing or reference sections on various projects that expose them to primary documents, customer service, and holdings maintenance. This academic term, three students were selected to learn about the National Archives first hand.
Chris Carter (Master’s Student in Library Science at the University of Maryland College Park)
“I am an intern in Records Services at the National Archives in College Park. Before starting work in January, my experience was in smaller archives without the large quantities of records found here at the National Archives. I knew describing the records here in College Park would be like nothing I had done before and so I was eager to learn what I could from my co-workers here at the National Archives. Along the way I provided accession-level description for the records of the United States Army, Pacific, the Department of Education, and the Forest Service, learning to describe these records for the benefit of researchers. I learned to look through the folder titles for catalog-compliant titles and through the contents of the folders for creating organizations, not always an easy task. While browsing these records I came across access and use restrictions, learning the intricacies of FOIA and how it affects user access of the records. I have already learned a lot in my two months here, and I continue to look forward to learning more here at the National Archives in College Park.”
Mary Kendig (Sophomore in History at the University of Maryland College Park)
“As an intern, I would shadow different archivists as they helped researchers locate records with finding aids in the research room. Eventually, after learning how to locate records and use the archival database system, I was able to help individuals myself. When I was not working in the research room, I answered emails and letter requests regarding the military textual records. This job allowed me to work through the stacks and the physical records of the archives, which I enjoyed thoroughly. Requests ranged from asking for copies of OSS Files to locating soldier’s Silver Star or Purple Heart General Orders. It was overwhelming for me to hold original military documents. Some of my favorite documents included radio transmissions and war criminal records.
My exciting internship at the National Archives II truly affected my college experience. It enabled me to work with military records and implement the information I learned in my college history courses. Due to my experience, I plan to enter the archival career. I would recommend the National Archives to every student as an internship program. Even if one is not interested in the military, general history, or civilian records, there are other opportunities at the Archives; these opportunities include human resources, accounting, business administration, and basic labor positions. The atmosphere is ideal for beginning and advanced interns because all the employees are pleasant and well qualified. Regardless of the atmosphere and the experience, working at NARA II is just plain fun. It’s rare to find a college internship that’s enjoyable and truly engages your educational goals; the National Archives fits both criteria.”
Adam Shery (Master’s Student in History at Monmouth University in New Jersey)
“My spring 2014 internship at NARA has been a very meaningful and educational experience. While working on Dr. Tina Ligon’s processing team, I have engaged in a great deal of research, description, and catalog entries. All of this has increased my knowledge of NARA’s work and the practice of archival science. I have long considered archival research to be where history starts, and NARA is a great location at which to be starting my career.”