Two former UNCG student employees share how their experience working at SCUA prepared them for jobs in the archives and public history field.
In the summer of 2016 I was fortunate to get accepted into the UNCG Museum Studies graduate program. As I contemplated how I would pay for the out-of-state tuition and housing, Dr. Benjamin Filene recommended that I apply for an oral history job with Martha Blakeney Hodges’s Special Collections and University Archives. Over the next two years, with the help of Brittany Hedrick and under the mentorship of Scott Hinshaw, we recorded and indexed over 100 interviews with students, alumni, professors, staff members, and former athletes at UNCG. I heard firsthand stories of academic departments growing, being a first-generation student, and the journey from Women’s College to UNCG [without the hyphen]. Three years later, I gained the opportunity to return to UNCG Special Collections. This time I led a project reflecting on the legacy of women’s suffrage. In the next few months, I primarily reached out to local women holding political office in the Greensboro area. We discussed what they learned before taking office and what they learned on the job. There were similarities and differences between their first vote and how politics were discussed with their mothers. It was a fantastic way to dive into recent local political history.
After I finished that project, I accepted a job in Albany, New York. As the Public Historian of the Albany African American history Project at the Albany Institute of History and Art, I am researching local black history. Many duties of this job are combinations of both past projects. There are stories of music, activism, community building, and more. The job is to work with education to create programming and exhibit an exhibit that 20th and 21st century highlights Albany’s black history. In my time here, since February 2022, I’ve researched black history for programming, started an oral history project, and connected to organizations and people through intentional outreach here in Albany. I’ll always appreciate the skills I gained in UNCG Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives.
I am the Photography Archivist at Samaritan’s Purse International Disaster Relief (SP), located in Boone, NC. During my time at SCUA, I volunteered, interned, and completed my capstone project as a student in the UNCG Master and Information Science Program (MLIS) While I had no previous experience in special collections or archives, the SCUA staff provided training that always helps me in my current position. I primarily curate the closed photo archives located in “The Vault” and their digital copies located in a digital asset management system (DAMS) in addition to assisting the SP photography team. I also complete photo requests from the graphic, web design and other departments for their projects. The Women Veterans Historical Project under Beth Ann Koelsch prepared me for both reference work and digital archiving. Guided by Stacey Krim, I processed collections and created finding aids which helps me when adding missing metadata to the one million and counting photos, negatives and slides uploading into our DAMS. Recently, I worked with the IT team to build a photo archives inventory on SharePoint based on notes I kept from my time at SCUA. In the true holiday spirit, I can simply say I am truly grateful!