Sunday, August 21, 2011

Full Circle: Mentoring and Internship Programs in Archives

Pictured above is former AARL Archives Intern Maya Thomas, who processed the Charmayne Johnson family papers.

On Saturday, August 27th, Kerrie Cotten Williams and I participate on the panel "Fostering a Diverse Profession: Mentoring and Internship Programs," at the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists in Chicago. We will be joined by Erika B. CastaƱo (University of Arizona), Steven D. Booth (National Archives and Records Administration), and former AARL intern Krystal Appiah.

Kerrie is moderating the panel, while I present about AARL's Archives Internship Program, which I coordinate and manage. As I prepare my presentation, I am reflecting on the role mentoring plays in the program. In Archival Internships: A Guide for Faculty, Supervisors, and Students -- one of the only texts on the subject -- authors Jeannette A. Bastian and Donna Webber write mentoring "may be the most valuable contribution that supervisors can make to an intern's education" (42). Though I'm still formalizing my ideas on "value" in the contexts of professional development, education, and ethics, I certainly agree with the authors that mentorship is a subject that deserves greater attention than it has received in professional literature.

As I continue to think about meaningful measures and outcomes for AARL's Archives Internship Program, it is gratifying to take pause and acknowledge the successes that former interns have achieved in a highly competitive job market. Towards the end of her internship, Krystal Appiah's blog entries caught the attention of the editor of the African American National Biography, who asked her to write an entry about Mary Parks Washington, which is now published. Since graduating from Brown University in May, she has kept busy as a participant in the HistoryMakers' Increasing African American Diversity in Archives Fellowship. Nicole Carmolingo, a major contributor to the blog, published an entry on Henry Rutherford Butler for the New Georgia Encyclopedia. Her second entry about the Big Bethel A.M.E. Church in Atlanta is forthcoming, and she recently began work fulltime as a project archivist in a for-profit setting. Another former intern, Rico Hall, just began the new Master of Archival Studies program at Clayton State University and is working on a special project at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

While I cannot take credit for their successes, I can say that mentorship plays an important role in AARL's Archives Internship Program. Here, informal conversations about the profession are common, and for interns who ask (and do good work), letters of recommendation and referrals are easy to come by. We intentionally foster a supportive environment for discovery, exploration, and dialog because the intern and mentor relationship is reciprocal and mutually beneficial. All the time and energy comes back full circle.

Posted by Wesley Chenault, Library Research Associate

Monday, August 15, 2011

Donors as Advocates: Duncan E. Teague

I was doing a bit of housekeeping recently when I came across an overdue idea for a post -- donors as advocates. Earlier this year, February 11th-12th, readers may recall that AARL held a two day program to announce and celebrate the donation of the Duncan E. Teague collection, which includes the invitation pictured above. (Teague is a founding member of ADODI Muse.) On Saturday, February 12th, WABE aired Rose Scott's interview with Teague, who spoke about the importance of preserving the past, especially that of underrepresented communities.  Listen here.

While advocacy in the field is not a new topic, per say, it is one that remains relevant, especially in uncertain economic times. These days we all are expected to do more with less, and AARL is grateful to have the support of patrons and donors, like Duncan Teague, whose familial, social and professional networks reach far beyond the walls of the library.  

Two publications are listed below for those interested in reading about advocacy and archives.


Finch, Elsie Freeman. Advocating Archives: An Introduction to Public Relations for Archivists. Chicago: Society of American Archivists and Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1994.

Hackman, Larry J., ed. Many Happy Returns: Advocacy and the Development of Archives. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2011.

Posted by Wesley Chenault, Library Research Associate

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

GHRAB Award: UGA's Dr. Barbara McCaskill and Christina L. Davis

Yesterday, I was informed that the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board (GHRAB) selected Dr. Barbara McCaskill and Christina L. Davis's project “J. Richardson Jones: The Atom Bomb of Auburn Avenue” for a 2011 “Research Using the Holdings of an Archives” Award.

A statewide program, GHRAB awards exceptional efforts in archives and records work. To appreciate the scope and depth of their project, which included many research hours in AARL's Archives Division, read the 1-page description below. The poster pictured above, from the Atlanta Life Insurance Company Records, advertises one of Richardson's works, "Parade of Negro Progress."
Posted by Wesley Chenault, Library Research Associate