If you came by the Amistad Research Center recently, you may have seen the Reading Room full of students busy assisting the staff with various projects. This past spring semester, we were fortunate to have a lot of students look to the Amistad Research Center for their internships. The Center is able to provide opportunities to learn about and engage with different aspects of working in an archive environment along with hands-on experience handling original documents. Internships introduce students to archival principles and theory, and they learn how these practices relate to the arrangement and description of personal papers and organizational records. Best of all, they are able to apply these principles in the various projects they assist with around the Center – engaging in preservation and description of paper-based, photographic, and audiovisual materials for long-term access and storage.
Tulane undergraduate Reece Mayers focused his internship on efforts to organize the records of the Louisiana Coalition against Racism and Nazism (LCARN). Undergraduate students from Dr. Rosanne Adderley’s African American Freedom class (HISU 2700) at Tulane University individually completed 20 hours over the spring semester as part of the course’s service learning requirement, working on various projects. In the Archival Processing department, student interns Hector Zepeda, Nate Koch, Isabella Scott, Talia Vicars, Naomi Rosenmoss, and Seamus Gallivan helped organize several collections, including the Reuben Myles papers, the Ellis Marsalis, Jr. papers, the John F. Hatchett papers, the Negro Almanac Collection, and the LCARN records.
Along with processing manuscript collections, three service learning students, Dinah Gordon, Jordan Dahlhauer, and Jacob Haber, worked with our audiovisual collections to create transcriptions and provide content analysis for the Treme Oral History collection and the Kim Lacy Rogers collection. Jesse Beeson, Lauren Clark, and Juharah Worku assisted our Library & Reference Department by inventorying the library cataloging backlog and portions of the library audiovisual collection, as well as conducting research surrounding the Center’s zine collection.
Internship tasks can vary and some of the work we do around the Center is not the most glamorous, but it helps the staff in what we do and provides a better understanding of the roles and functions of a research center. As the cataloging intern Lauren Clark summed up in her internship reflection, “Although my backlogging responsibilities became tedious at times, it was extremely doable and I definitely stumbled across several interesting books and magazines. I also enjoyed the people who worked at Amistad—everyone was very friendly and you always helped me when I had a question.”
Several students from Tulane University’s English Department also joined Amistad this past semester. These individuals are generally able to dedicate more time to the Center, allowing them to work more thoroughly and independently on projects. Sohni Syed organized and created finding aids for two literature-related manuscript collections: the Jerry Ward papers and the Juanita C. Carman papers. Mitch Therieau worked to create a correspondence index for the Tom Dent papers, which will better assist researchers in discoverability for specific correspondents within the collection. Brianna Juaire inventoried the personal library of Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen, discovering inscribed, signed, and annotated copies and opening avenues of research into the collection and reading habits of a major 20th century African American poet.
Along with the wonderful group of Tulane student interns, Paula Allen, our Fine Arts curator, has been working over the past year with two students, Floyd Williams and Traci Taylor, from SUNO’s Museum Studies program to manage the Center’s visual arts holdings. Floyd has assisted with preparing artwork for exhibition and the completion of condition reports works in the Center’s fine arts collection. Traci created a preliminary inventory of the prints and artwork in the Bruce Nugent collection and will help curate our upcoming exhibition on Jacob Lawrence. She says, “I feel honored to be in the midst of such important artwork, manuscripts, photographs, and works from African and African American artists. From Bruce Nugent to Jacob Lawrence, I have enjoyed and learned beyond my imagination.”
Not all of our student interns were in college. We were also fortunate enough to have Elijah Smith, a graduating senior at Metairie Park Country Day School, spend a week with us, helping to digitize a recent acquisition of photographs on New Orleans hiphop scene. Finishing that task quickly, Elijah chipped in with other tasks around the Center, assisting with researcher reproduction requests, digitizing materials for exhibition, and organizing portions of archival collections.
Amistad’s student interns gain valuable experience by participating in every step of the archival process, from initial content analysis to final description. The feedback we receive helps us facilitate projects that adapt to the curriculum and to student’s interests. Naomi Rosenmoss, one of Dr. Adderley’s students, said of her experience, “I've really enjoyed the time I've gotten to spend at Amistad. As a history major particularly interested in African American history, I'm excited to learn more about the research happening at Amistad." As school ends for the summer, we expect more interested interns and volunteers to assist in projects in the archive and library! In fact, stop by this summer and you’ll see them hard at work.
A sincere thank you to all of our student assistants this past semester. Your work was and is greatly appreciated.
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