11th Week at the WRA

11th Week at the WRA

Due to a chaotic mix of events, I was only able to make it to the Western Regional Archives once this week. It is both the first week of school and I am in the middle of moving between apartments.

I went to the archives on Tuesday and continued to sort through and summarize the correspondence letters from the BMC Collection. If I have learned anything this week, it is that John Evarts thoroughly enjoyed writing about anything and everything; he wrote on the mundane, the exciting, conflicts, peaceful moments, his emotions at varying times since his previous letter, and how he missed BMC. While he does seem like an exceptional individual, I am almost growing tired of his long letters–letters he wrote three to five days apart from one another.

Evarts loved to write his friends.

I am looking forward to being finished with Evarts’ folders, and hopefully I can compile a comprehensive story between his notes.

73/150


10th Week at the WRA

10th Week at the WRA

According to what I have heard, around fifty people came to the WRA’s anniversary celebration! I am very glad that the drama has sorted itself out (though a department head did have to involve himself and have a discussion with everyone involved). Despite the minor turbulence, everything went spectacularly! I am glad for this, too. Heather worked very hard to make sure that it went well.

This week, I was once again able to visit the archives twice. One of these days, we took a break on our work to participate on an online seminar about preserving photographs. It was very informative! I wasn’t anywhere near aware of how many different types and chemical compositions of photographs there were. We were also given examples on how to tell when these different types of photographs are deteriorating, and how to deal with this. In the end, all preservation is merely delaying an inevitable end (so I have heard from both Heather and the seminar alike), but archivists can use certain tools and methods to prolong a material’s lifespan. There were a couple technical difficulties, which we perhaps found more amusing than adults should, but the experience was by far an enjoyable one.

The second day, we (Heather, two other interns, and I) once again dug out the AW collection. This time, we were sorting and categorizing the collection. Typically when a collection arrives to the WRA and it has maintained a certain order, Heather believes that it can communicate something about the previous owner(s). The collection arrived in no particular order, and as such it was necessary for us to find one. It took quite a while. By the end of the day, we were all once again fairly drained. That being said, we accomplished a lot in a short period of time!

Hours: 68.5/150


9th Week at the WRA

9th Week at the WRA

This has been an exciting week at the archives! I was able to drop by twice this week, once on Wednesday and again on Friday.

Friday was the anniversary of the Western Regional Archives and Heather has spent all week arranging for a get together/tour of the archives. On Wednesday Heather, several other interns, and I all continued sorting through the AW files. We managed to completely weed out all unnecessary, useless, or private documents within the collection! It was quite a lot, and the shredder was very busy the entire day shredding documents with sensitive information (i.e. documents holding social security numbers, bank account information, etc). It was a very productive day! By the end of it, most of us were so mentally exhausted, it was difficult to think! But the files had finally been condensed and the Processing Room was organized for the tour during Friday evening.

I also dropped by Friday morning to help set up for the anniversary of the archives and the tour. We spent most of the morning cleaning up areas, sanitizing, preparing and decorations. There was also quite a bit of drama around the building on Friday. I don’t believe I will go into details on here, but the WRA building had a couple double-booked meetings, no one was attending the guests, and the entire building was not secure (a government building!). Most of the individuals in the building that day, whether they were with the WRA or in another department, were very upset about the events taking place. I also daresay that it was interesting, being able to witness tension between departments and agencies that must share the same building. Unfortunately, I had to leave before the anniversary celebration begun, but I can’t wait to hear about how it went!

Hours: 61/150


8th Week at the WRA

8th Week at the WRA

This week I was only able to visit the archives once for a short visit. I continued to categorize and summarize the BMC Correspondence Letters, and I have almost made it through all of Evart’s folders! Which, by my own standards, feels like a feat. The sheer number of folders he has, and the number of letters each folder contains, feels as though it could warrant its own separate box. I hope to get further in transcribing the audio files as soon as things calm down at work–which I have decided to leave.

That is, I hope to clock more internship hours and do more work after I am able to leave my day job and free up some time.

Heather has been incredibly hospitable this summer and I have even met several other interns, frequent researchers, and archivists. I look forward to my next visit!

53/150


8th Week at the WRA

8th Week at the WRA

This week I was only able to visit the archives once for a short visit. I continued to categorize and summarize the BMC Correspondence Letters, and I have almost made it through all of Evart’s folders! Which, by my own standards, feels like a feat. The sheer number of folders he has, and the number of letters each folder contains, feels as though it could warrant its own separate box. I hope to get further in transcribing the audio files as soon as things calm down at work–which I have decided to leave.

That is, I hope to clock more internship hours and do more work after I am able to leave my day job and free up some time.

Heather has been incredibly hospitable this summer and I have even met several other interns, frequent researchers, and archivists. I look forward to my next visit!

53/150


7th Week at the WRA

7th Week at the WRA

This week I was able to make it down to the Western Regional Archives twice, on both Wednesday and Thursday. Both of these visits were interesting in their own ways and introduced me to new aspects of archival work.

The first day that I went this week, Thursday, was a very busy day at the archives. There were a handful of other interns and a couple groups of researchers (who were rather self-sufficient and didn’t need our help). Heather took the opportunity while she had a large resource of personnel to sort through one of the larger collections and weed out the unneeded materials. I cannot recall the name of the exact business that had donated the materials, but the initials were ‘AW’ and it was a local nonprofit organization that utilized state grants and local profits to fund projects to promote tourism. While the organization was certainly a positive one for the area while it lasted, it certainly maintained ill-advised business practices–but I don’t believe that I should give those out to the internet.

I returned to the archives yesterday, in which my tasks were completely different from any that I had done before at the archives. I had offered to digitize some audio so that I may begin transcribing it from home. Heather selected the BMC Research Project interview cassette tapes from the 1970’s. To start, it took around an hour to set up the programs and equipment, as none of the technology wanted to work together. But eventually, we managed to get it all to work. The second hurtle that I hadn’t expected to jump through that morning concerned the transcribing of the audio. I hadn’t expected it to be difficult to transcribe from audio, and I certainly thought that I typed much faster than I apparently do. In any case, I learned that people talk much faster than I had previously thought, and that often times what seems to be a simple task may be much more difficult than I had originally taken it as. Thankfully, I was able to get the audio digitized and I have begun transcribing from home. I look forward to continuing my work next week at the archives and to finishing these transcriptions!

Hours: 49/150


6th Week at the WRA

6th Week at the WRA

Due to the sudden heightening of expectations at work and the shortening of staff in our department, I am only able to make it to the Western Regional Archives today this week. Thankfully, Heather has been immensely patient with my shifting work schedule and inconsistent hours at the WRA.

Today wasn’t as eventful as last week, but I was able to return to sorting through the BMC Correspondence letters. I did notice something odd, however. In the box of miscellaneous letters two and from Barbara Dreier, there are seven different folders completely filled with letters from John Evarts. The only notable difference separating one folder from another are the periods of time in which they are written–some of which time periods seem erratically chosen. Some of these folders contain an assortment of letters written by Evarts from particular year. Others span three or four years. Interestingly enough, even Heather was unaware of the presence of these folders.

Seeing as a few of these letters are written from Evarts’s time serving in the military during WW2, I am half tempted to make notes on their contents and incorporate them into the BMC website that my group and I had created in the Spring.

But I will wait and see if there is anything noteworthy to put up. I look forward to my next visit!

Hours: 40.5/150


5th Week at the WRA

5th Week at the WRA

Amidst a colossal undertaking at work this week, being the remodel and “Grand Re-Opening” of our store, I was able to make it to the Western Regional Archives twice this week.

It was a very exciting week at the WRA! I had begun my day on Tuesday with the BMC Correspondence files until Heather arrived. When she did, she informed Ms. Susie and I that the Asheville Visitor Center was moving by the end of the week and wished to donate a few boxes to us as soon as possible. In the end, that very day turned out to be the best day to retrieve the materials for all parties involved. Heather showed me how to draw up a contract, the system that is used to communicate between the State Archivist and the individuals making the donation, and the programs they use to document each donation they receive. Once the contract was drafted, it was time for the field trip!

We took the state van to the Visitor Center, loaded up the boxes (surprise! There were more than a few), got the signature, and took the donation back to the WRA. Incidentally, we ran into Kristen on our way back in–one of my group members from the BMC during WW2 project.

I spent the rest of Tuesday and Thursday helping sort through the files, weed out duplicates and unnecessary materials, and gathered a better grasp on what materials are important for the WRA to keep. Most of the ephemera that we acquired from the Visitor Center were newspaper clippings, interestingly enough. Anything that so much as mentioning Asheville or any of its landmarks was kept, from 1991 until 2008. There were quite a few boxes, but the size of the collection was cut down into a much more manageable size after the weeding process.

Hours: 37/150


4th Week at the WRA

4th Week at the WRA

This week, I was able to go to the archives three times (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) and work on a project at home in a total of thirteen hours. I was also able to meet with Dr. Pearson and discuss the progress I have made in the archives and my experiences. Most of this week has been spent between sorting through the Mr. Bill collection, continuing my notes on the BMC correspondence collection, and discussing the inner mechanisms of the North Carolina state archives system with Heather.

I was able to categorize the paperwork and ephemera within Mr. Bill collection into folders, based on similar topics and/or materials. The contents of these materials consisted of awards, newspaper clippings, records from the television station, and other memorabilia. The sheer number of awards that Mr. Bill had collected over the years that his show was on television is astounding. I had not counted them, but there were easily enough to fill an entire folder on their own. I was also struck by the odd acquisition of what appeared to be a scrapbook for a Ms. North Carolina pageant in the midst of the collection, which seemed to have very little to do with the collection itself.

Heather has spoken to me a great deal on the intricacies of archival work and research. She was even able to explain the formula that is used to calculate the archive’s “digital reach”. The concept of digital reach was somewhat new to me, though made perfect sense. The term digital reach refers to the number of individuals who are exposed to digital posts made by the archives–primarily via Facebook. One might immediately assume, as I had, that this was the number of individuals who had liked/reacted/shared posts made by the WRA Facebook page, perhaps with an addition of the number of likes the entire page had in total. This assumption was incorrect and a little simplistic. Instead, their digital reach must also account for the Facebook feature that allows friends of the original individuals who had liked a post to also see the post on their own Facebook feed. These individuals are also included in the equation whether they like/react/share the post or not; they are calculated merely by seeing the post. This means that for each individual who interacts with a post on the WRA Facebook page, each of their friends who see the post in turn must be taken into account. Fortunately, Facebook has a feature that will calculate these statistics for you and makes this task much easier for Heather and the other WRA employees.

It is also interesting to note that the WRA employees also take into account the primary times of the day, and even which days, to post content so that it will reach a higher number of individuals. I found it very interesting to experience first-hand how even branches of local government are adapting to (and incorporating) social media and digital outreach.

Hours: 29/150


3rd Week of Interning

3rd Week of Interning

This has been a very busy week!

I have been to the archives twice, spent a couple hours at home digitizing some of my notes from the archives, met with Dr. Pearson, and I have met with Dr. William Bruce on the subject of an unrelated paid internship.

Earlier this week, I had continued sorting through the BMC correspondence box and summarizing letters in my notes. There was one individual in particular that while the file was daunting in size, struck me as particularly notable. In fact, Doughton Cramer’s letters were not only relatable but also quite heart-wrenching. I feel as though I have gotten too invested in his story. There were seven (long) letters in his file. The first letter he had written to Barbara Dreier was during the summer of his third year at the college, and described what a failure he felt like over the course of his academic career. He felt that while he had much potential to offer, he rarely committed to giving all of it in his courses, and that he was getting close to quitting college due to his own negligence. The letters after a bit lighter, describing his work after college as a school teacher, how much he enjoys working with children, and even bore some poetry about the college he wished to share with Mrs. Dreier. Doughton then mentions in one of the latter letters that he hopes to marry soon so that he wouldn’t get drafted into the military and forced to fight during WW2.

Unfortunately, the very next letter had army logos on the top and came from an airforce base, two years after the previous letter. After going through his letters, I have reason to believe that he was eventually killed during a bomb strike in London, where he was stationed in the very last letter.

But, I digress. I have gotten much too invested in Doughton Cramer’s story.

I was able to meet with Dr. Pearson the next day, Tuesday 6/27. We had a very good discussion about the archives, how to better read through letters, and my upcoming meeting with Dr. Bruce. I am forever grateful to Dr. Pearson for her help and advice, both for my internship at the Western Regional Archives as well as other unrelated matters. She has always made time for her students and its always willing to help in the areas in which they are struggling.

After the meeting, I was able to go home and digitize my notes from the Barbara Dreier Correspondence letters–most of them, anyway. I have several pages of notes left to transfer into the GoogleDoc.

Yesterday was second time I went to the archives this week. This visit was different from the previous ones, as Heather had me start on another project! The Archives had recently taken in a large collection on “Mr. Bill”, a locally run children’s segment on the local news channel that ran up until the mid-90’s from my own understanding. I took inventory of what there was, which turned out to take up the majority of my time at the archives that day. To be fair, there were over a hundred film reels in different sizes (much of which looked unplayable and unsavable). After, I had time to watch through and summarize a couple VHS tapes here and there. It was certainly an interesting change! I will need to digitize my inventory notes very soon so that Heather can use them. I look forward to returning to the archives next week!

Hours: 16/150


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