Through the summer and fall, I’ve been an intern for the museum archive. My task has been to help in identifying and describing German-language materials, and to translate some of them into English, so they can be indexed correctly and be more accessible to users of the archive who don’t read German.
I am Chelsea Pokrzywinski, a first year graduate student at the University of Illinois studying library and information science. With a bachelor’s degree in history from ISU and the goal of working in a library or museum after graduate school, I felt the museum was the best place to learn what archivists do every day. I worked with several collections during my internship in the fall of 2015, but my main project involved the St. Mary’s Church and School Collection.
My Communications degree program at Illinois State University requires an internship.When I started at ISU last fall I was apprehensive about it. Where would I apply? Would I have time to fit it in with my work schedule? What would I like to do? These questions ran through my noggin' over and over until I realized what I really enjoyed…talking and history.
Because of my time spent at the museum, I feel enlightened to the numerous occupations related to history, not just history education. Although I will probably continue to pursue teaching history at the high school level, the stress of questioning the utility of my history degree has all but diminished. I am thankful for what I have gained through the museum: a refreshing perspective, a rewarding feeling, and a fantastic staff of professionals that I can now call my friends.
Every spring the Museum hosts some of the projects created for the Tri-Valley History Fair.
My first day here I was given the task of making a finding aid for a nearly 100-year-old collection of World War I material, mainly books and military manuals. A finding aid is a typed inventory of the contents of an archival collection, and as such helps researchers and those interested in the collection find their way around the material.
That had to be my favorite day, as it morphed from handling the objects in the room to having several employees in the museum show me the various archives and vaults that I had yet to see. I clearly didn't understand the scope of the museum collections nor what their accreditation meant for a museum in a city of this size.