Friday, December 9, 2011

Attitudes/Diversity and Values

Well, there isn't a lot of controversy taking place in the archives at Presbyterian College. So it's rather hard to talk about how my values were challenged and how I encountered diversity. In talking to Mrs. Griffith and Mrs. Leckie, I found out that their backgrounds were similar to my own and we shared many of the same beliefs. However, despite a level of controversy, I have gained more than I could ask for this semester. In addition to transferable work skills and job experience, I would like to think that I've gained to new and very good friends in Mrs. Griffith and Mrs. Leckie.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with these ladies this semester. They are witty, funny, kind, and so very smart. Despite our gaps in age, we had a lot in common. I found it easy to talk to and relate to both of them. Mrs. Griffith became my go-to for advice both personal, academic, and career related and Mrs. Leckie was always there to hear my troubles and my triumphs. Mrs. Griffith has been tremendously helpful in so many areas. She has helped me to find possible jobs after graduation, and she's even referred me to an oral surgeon to have my wisdom teeth extracted. Mrs. Leckie helped me through the crisis of having one of my roommates moving out. She also always wanted to know what I thought about certain issues and historical points. They both took such a sincere and kind interest in me, and I cannot think them enough. They were my rock this semester, and I do not know how I would have made it through everything I had to go through without them. We shared so much and I learned so much from them this semester. I can never thank them enough, and I cannot wait to go visit the archives again next year! It makes me sad to leave this internship, but I know that I leave it having forged friendships and connections in the archives and with the pleasure of being able to say that I've worked with Mrs. Griffith and Mrs. Leckie.

Transferable Skills

While interning at the Archives this semester I have gained many transferable skills which I am sure will help me in the workplace. One of the most important things I learned was how to manage my time. I had to be on time for work every day, and while working I had to focus. As most of my transcription work too place on my laptop, there was the temptation to look at Facebook or check my email, but I had to remind myself that I was at work, and my time should be used for working. Managing myself in this way, I was able to make the most of my time at my internship. I also had to take consideration in telling Mrs. Griffith and Mrs. Leckie when I would be late to work or when I would have to leave early due an an academic conflict.

I also learned how to listen attentively this semester. Often, Mrs. Griffith and Mrs. Leckie would give me assignments to do. Not only would these be new to me, be often times the assignment had many steps to them. I had to listen to what was being instructed of me and learn to ask the appropriate questions so that I could do what they were asking of me. If I had failed to listen to directions, something could have been archived incorrectly or mislabeled.

I learned a great deal from project management this semester. Most of this experience came from the aid I gave in crafting two exhibits for visitors to the archives. Mrs. Griffith and Mrs. Leckie gave me the tools and the objects with which to create the displays, but it was up to me to creatively and efficiently manage the creation of the exhibits. You can read more about each of my exhibits here and here.

I developed interpersonal skills, especially in the area of representing others. On occasion I would have to go down to the main or basement level of the library and talk to my fellow workers about things Mrs. Griffith or Mrs. Leckie would need. I had to be able to present myself in a clear and understandable fashion in order for others to understand me. I also had to keep in mind that while I was talking to other people, I was representing not just myself but the archives, meaning that I had to conduct myself in a respectable manner.

Lastly, this semester I developed the skill of organization in the ability to plan projects. While working at the archives, I had several projects usually running at a time. I was constantly editing and transcribing my interviews from this summer as well as continuously working on the Bee-Mail Project. However, I would have to manage the allocation of my projects when something would come up that was needed of me. Often Mrs. Griffith or Mrs. Leckie would require me to do some research for them or to look something up. I was also asked to file, copy, and archive several objects. Needless to say, I had several projects going on at a time and had to learn which one to devote my attention to. Therefore, I would have to plan out my schedule for my projects every day, doing those that needed completed earlier first and those projects which could wait next.

I've learned a lot this semester at the archives, and I hope be able to apply what I've learned there in the classroom as well as in the workplace.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Project - Knowledge Entry

I would like take a few moments to explain how this choice of internship has impacted the current research I am doing and the future career path I plan to take. Interning at the archives has earned me a more thorough understanding of the Lost Cause ideology (which will have its own featured blog at a later date). The Lost Cause is the ideology that began to be espoused in the South after the Civil War as a method of vindication for the South’s military defeat. Within this ideology the South justified its causes for war, claiming that God had been on their side during the Civil War. In doing this they gave up on the notions of political autonomy, but clung to the hope of the South as a separate cultural entity. This explains the distinct Southern culture that exists today, and I would argue there is not a better place in the world to see the legacies of the Lost Cause and Southern culture than my hometown of Laurens, South Carolina.

This summer, during Summer Fellows, I began to look into the legacy of the Confederacy in Laurens. This project centered on the symbolic confusion surrounding the Confederate flag and the controversy surrounding the famous Redneck Shop. The Redneck Shop is a novelty store located in downtown Laurens where one can purchase all matters of Southern paraphernalia including bumper stickers, t-shirts, coffee mugs, Klan robes, and Confederate flags. The owner of the shop is John Howard, a sixty-five year old resident of Laurens County. A former Grand Dragon of the KKK, and a lifetime member, he is happy to share his memories and thoughts on the Klan with anyone who asks. However, not everyone is as excited about the shop as Howard and his contemporaries.

David Kennedy, a local African-American Baptist pastor, has been leading a protest against the shop for several years now. Kennedy is an adamant civil rights activist who has fought against civil injustice across the state of South Carolina since his youth. He is the pastor of a church located five miles from the Redneck Shop and also a prominent leader in the black community. Howard and Kennedy have been in and out of court for nearly a decade and now find themselves involved in another legal dispute concerning the ownership of the building. Small town rumor has it that through a series of events, Kennedy has come to own the old Echo Theater building which the Redneck Shop is located in. Howard denies any claims of this, and the pair have been set to face off again in court this coming year.

The situation as seen in Laurens County is just one of many ways in which Confederate memory has gripped the South in its legacy. Confederate memory is the way in which the legacies of the Civil War are kept alive and appear in modern society. This can not only be seen in the Redneck Shop, but also in the local camps of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It is certain that within at least one section of the community, Confederate heritage is alive and well and by working at the archives my understanding of Confederate legacy has deepened.

Being a part of Laurens County and the South, PC is no exception to the legacies of the Confederacy. In fact, PC’s own history is closely intertwined with the emergence of the Lost Cause ideology. The Archives contains a collection owned by the family of Stonewall Jackson, a prominent Confederate general. We also have a vast collection of literature circulated by D.H. Hill, the main proprietor of the Lost Cause in the aftermath of the Civil War. After defeat, he used his magazine The Land We Love, to espouse Southern sentiments and vindicate the South’s surrender. Also, PC has  a copy of South Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession because the college’s founder, William Plumer Jacobs was the clerk for that session of the state legislature. PC had deep ties to the Lost Cause ideology and is a living testimony to the legacies of the Civil War. Learning all of this has deepened my love for Southern history and my interest in the subject. I am currently continuing my research into the area of the Lost Cause by taking a Southern Studies course and working with faculty on an independent study relating to memory and the Civil War. Therefore, my experience in Archives this semester has persuaded me to pursue a career in Southern Studies after graduation and to possibly go on to work for larger research projects such as those found in historical houses and plantations across the South.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Exhibit

This month is national archives month and to promote archival awareness, the Arnold Archives at PC has created a transportation exhibit. The theme is transportation in Clinton, and surprisingly enough covers almost every mode of transportation imaginable. There are pictures of the usual traffic: trains, students riding bikes to class, cars - but we also have a few rarer specimens - the hippie van that belonged to SVS in the 1970s, schedules of ship departures, pictures of the flight class taught during World War Two, and an advertisement for local horse stables published in the early twentieth century. So, baring the UFO siting, this exhibit literally has it all. It's especially neat to think that Clinton is such a lively transportation hub, when it is usually thought of as a small town where little happens.

The unique thing about this exhibit is the way in which it's displayed. Unlike the baseball exhibit that was created last month, this exhibit offers two-way viewing. So the entire thing is visible both inside and outside of the Archives. As Sarah and I worked to create this exhibit, dealing with the complete visibility of the situation proved challenging. When prepping the materials to go into the exhibit, we had to think of how they would look from both sides. This made trimming the pictures rather difficult. Each photo in the exhibit had to be two sided, meaning that the same picture was copied twice and the copies were held together back-to-back with tape. This was rather challenging, because the photos had to be trimmed exactly so that there was no overlapping. However I trimmed one picture, its copy had to be trimmed the same way. Luckily, Sarah knew a few tricks, which she taught me, which made prepping easier. She suggested that I line the photos up back to back with a sheet of construction paper between them, and then trim them. Doing it this way, I could make sure that the dimensions for each photo was the same, which taking less time to measure the width and length of each picture. Her advice certainly made my work easier.

Also while constructing this exhibit, we had to think of how the other aspects of the exhibits would look from each viewing side. So, toy planes and trains had to be placed so that they were visible from both sides of the display case. Items also had to be spaced correctly so that no one item was blocking the other. This proved extremely challenging, but after a few trial and errors and a lot of moving things around, we figured out the best way to display the items.

This was the first exhibit I had ever done with another person. It was useful because we could talk to each other about how things could be displayed and I could always get Sarah's opinion on what I was doing. Plus, the final product of the exhibit was something that we had both created. Sarah's veteran experience and amazing spacial awareness definitely complemented my eagerness to help and organizational skills. In the end, we created a smashing exhibit that everyone should come see...from both sides of the display case!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Baseball Display

The baseball display and is up! This past Tuesday, I spent most of my time at the Archives creating the display, with some much appreciated assistance from Sarah Leckie. The display is split into two sections. The left side chronicles just a few of the many different teams that have been on PC's campus since the early 1900s, while the right side highlights famous players and influential coaches. There are even a few baseball cards and copies of the Diamond Club Newsletter, the newsletter for the bluehose baseball team. We even have the original drawing for the new baseball complex on display. So, if you're interested, please come up to the second floor of the library, and visit the area outside of the archives to see the baseball exhibit.

In making the exhibit, I had to polish several skills that I don't normally use every day. One, is spatial awareness. If you know me, you know that I cannot operate without running into walls, tables, and chairs everywhere I go. So for someone who doesn't have a very good idea of space, spacing things out was a bit difficult for me, especially before I figured out how the display should be set up. The number of photo frames I had to work with seemed overwhelming. I had to somehow figure out how to display so many different things - pictures of teams, pictures of individuals, baseball cards, gloves, media guides, and even an actual baseball. So after panicking a bit, I did what I do best, and channeled my OCD. After sorting the picture frames into team photos, individual photos, and caption excerpts, I realized that the most logical system of display was to show the progression of PC baseball in one area by showing the teams through the years. I used the other shelf to highlight particular players and coaches. By employing my organization skills, I was able to overcome my spatial difficulty. 

After solving the issue of how to display the items, everything went very smoothly, and I must say that I'm quite proud of what I've done. Having gotten all the pictures up, however, I had to solve the quandary of what to do with all the extra things, such as the gloves, balls, cards. I decided to use them as accent pieces and started decorating. Now, I've never thought of myself as a decorator. Aiming to make sure everything was visible and that one side of the exhibit was not more crowded than another, I tried my best. To my surprise, my best was fantastic. The exhibit looked amazing, and even Sarah and Mrs. Griffith said so. They even said I could make my own display if I wanted to, though I have no idea what I would focus on for it. Tackling another project sounds exciting though. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Week 2

Last week provided optimum learning experiences in the area of technology. Technology is a fickle friend. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't do exactly what you want to do. This week, I learned that I had to roll with my fickle friend and think quickly on my feet to solve problems. Most of these technological issues were related to the upcoming baseball exhibit that the archives is preparing for. Recently I've been taking pictures down to the photocopier with Mrs. Leckie and toying with the magic of computers to get them into a presentable fashion to put in the display. Sometimes this means printing the images from a powerpoint and at other times, it gets a little more complicated. Operating the printers requires cooperation from several different groups. First, Sarah and I have to be able to communicate what we want to Doug Wallace, the media guru downstairs in the media center. This requires good communication skills, which I thankfully picked up quickly on. This is important because if we can't explain to Doug what our vision is and what we want, we simply will not get what we want. So in order to put together an awesome baseball exhibit, we had to communicate with him, an outsider to the project, in an effective fashion that would yield the desired results.

Other than communication I learned other valuable skills such as the ability to problem solve. When trying to print out our powerpoint of pictures, we were alone in the media center without a guru to help. Unfortunately, the images printed on the wrong paper, loaded from the wrong tray, and they were the incorrect size. We had to go into powerpoint and reformat the pictures. I did not know how to do this, but I decided to give it a try and see if I could help. It turned out, that once I looked around the computer a bit, I figured out how to not only reformat the image, but to tell the printer to work, and also let it know which tray it had to pick the paper up from. The result was that we got our photos printed correctly on the right type of paper. I was proud of myself for accomplishing this and I felt like I was making a difference to the baseball project.

I also learned how to look for alternative solutions. We had been attempting to copy two very large posters of baseball players, but the problem was that they were just too big to fit into the copier. The result was that we got a choppy image that was held together by tape. I suggested that we take pictures of the posters and then load those onto a computer where we could reformat them to whatever size we wanted. Sarah said that was a great idea, and so we got Doug to take pictures and we reformatted the images. They're now framed and ready to go on display.

This week I have discovered more than valuable career skills. I've discovered something about myself: I like to organize things. I've known this for a while, but I'd like to do it for a career. Helping to set up the baseball display has helped me to realize this. I like to make sure that items are presented cleanly and in a stately manner, and I put a lot of care into making sure the items I've framed for the baseball exhibit have turned out this way. Thinking on a larger scale, I've come to the conclusion that I would love to set up museum exhibits. Staging and creating exhibits sounds like a blast to me. I cannot wait till the baseball display goes up, because then I'll (hopefully) get to make another exhibit.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Week 1

Last week I was introduced into the archiving process, which I've learned is very diverse in nature. My first day I spent my time scanning and copying photos and articles recently published about people affiliated with the college to go into the PC People files. The PC People files is a set of documents, mostly gained from local newspapers, that center on anyone affiliated with the college - whether it be students, alumni, staff, or faculty. We clip these articles and pictures and then copy them before adding them to the files. I archived everything from recent weddings (there were a lot of those since we just went through wedding season in May and June), announcements about the Athletic Department's progression to Division 1, and Dr. Griffith's initiatives for PC this coming year. So, you never know, maybe you're in the PC People files. Perhaps you should come by the Archives to see what fame you've garnered for yourself.

The rest of my day was spent reading and taking notes on the Bee Mail project. The Bee Mail project, as you may recall from my last post, is a series of newsletters and letter responses centered on the registrar during World War Two, Mrs. Bee. By far, this was my favorite thing I did that day. Not because I didn't like copying. I actually do: there's relaxation to be found in the rhythm of laying out pages and pressing a button for thirty minutes. I liked working with Bee Mail though because I was touching and dealing with such personal objects. Articles and pictures have a nature of detachment to them, but letters are personal. I was actually touching real history - putting my hands on someone's letter from the 1940s. Some of these documents had been mailed from destinations as far away as Texas, Europe, and Japan. Having never left the Southeast, to me touching these was a mini cultural adventure. I only had the chance to read and chronicle a few of the letters, but the most interesting one I read came from a "PC'un" (the term used in the 40s to refer to those associated with PC) stationed in Georgia. He wrote regarding the apples he had previously sent Mrs. Bee, to tell her that they were picked by German prisoners of war, who had been tortured prior to being sent out into the orchard to pluck apples. I can only imagine how she must have felt at receiving such news and I can't help but wonder if she threw the remaining apples, if she had any, away or if she kept them. Sadly, though, Mrs. Bee did not respond to each letter, but instead sent out a newsletter which appealed to all, so for now I have no way of knowing how she felt about such fruit.

My second day Sarah Leckie gave me a tour of the Isabel Arnold Collection and the Founder's Library. This was another favorite experience. For those of you who don't already know, the Archives has a small museum attached to it and in this museum are two rooms, which are pretty fascinating. The first is the Isabel Arnold Collection which features items related to Stonewall Jackson and his family. For me, going into this room was a pretty big deal. Being a Civil War enthusiast, this collection amazed me. The room is set up to look like a bedroom and contains a bed that Stonewall Jackson and his wife shared. I'll repeat: Stonewall Jackson once slept in a bed and we, Presbyterian College, have it. Is that not amazing? After completing my tour through the trinkets and belongings from Jackson's family, including a parlor set, paintings, pretty sleeping gowns, and ornate rugs, we made our way to the Founder's library. This room contains the private library of William Plumer Jacobs, PC's founder. This library is without a doubt the most extensive and vast private collection I've ever seen. Jacobs had books on religion, science, geography, and history. By looking at his collection, one can tell he was a man of many interests. As with the Arnold Collection, I again, had a favorite item in the room. Above the mantle hangs a copy of South Carolina's Ordinance of Secession. It's there because Jacobs was a page for the session of the state congress that decided to secede from the Union. This one document simultaneously connects Jacobs with Stonewall Jackson and PC with the Civil War. It's mind blowing to think what our founder lived through and how his experiences, good and bad, ultimately shaped the institution he founded. The Founder's Library and the Isabel Arnold Collection are definitely worth the trip to the Archives. They're free and simply astounding.

Thursday I worked mostly on a soon-to-come exhibit to the Archives that features men who played baseball at PC and later went on to strike it large in the minor and big leagues. Most of this involved taking old photos out of their frames and sorting through boxes of old photographs. Though the de-framing was difficult - those metal things on the back of frames are evil - looking at the pictures was fascinating. Even though the pictures dated back for decades, I still felt the homey and loving feeling of PC when I looked at every photograph. Having come across some old pictures of Homecoming I was surprised to see that the 1970s homecoming was similar to the three I've experienced at school. Also, it was exciting to learn that so many former PC students had gone on to play for larger and nationally known baseball teams. I look forward to seeing the baseball exhibit unfold. It's going to be great and I hope that many of you come see it!

My experiences this week have helped me to realize the vastness of history, especially the history that involves PC. It's astounding to work with so many different materials including Civil War relics, letters from World War Two, and pictures of sporting events at PC. PC's truly a community that branches out and touches people's lives all over the globe. Seeing the evidence that fellow bluehose and those affiliated with the college lived through eras of history which I have studied made the events all the more real to me. This was extremely important because above all things in history, I have come to value the personal nature of it. That is, the impact of the individual on the larger picture. This week I saw how a former registrar, relatives of Stonewall Jackson, William Plumer Jacobs, baseball players, and soldiers all wove their own individual stories, but the most fascinating was the way in which they interacted with one another and helped to build the PC legacy.