Internship Experience at the CALS Butler Center Manuscripts Division Summer 2019
By Rachel Chenault
As most people know, getting a bachelor’s degree in history and classics does not guarantee you a job. Despite knowing this, I have committed myself to a history degree at Hendrix College, and I don’t regret it for a moment. That being said, as I finished my sophomore year, I had to begin thinking of my future and how I can stand out in the job market. After many weeks of research and frustration at the lack of history internships, I found the CALS Butler Center’s website. Since experience in archives is just what I need to be skilled in my field, I immediately emailed Brian Robertson, the archival manager, and asked if the CALS Butler Center had a position for me. He said yes, and I joined in late May 2019.
Under the tutelage of archivist Danielle Butler, I performed a variety of tasks. I began by redacting sensitive information from archival collections that were being processed. I then began work on the Architects of Little Rock Collection, wherein I learned how to organize archives in Excel documents and how to do data entry and collection-level information in ArchivesSpace. Finally, I was tasked with organizing, describing, and cataloguing archives from a work-in-progress collection. This was my favorite part. Not only did I get to expand my organizational skills, but I also learned more about my state’s history than I ever knew before. My other small jobs included making a presentation for the welcome desk in the CALS Roberts Library, describing photos collected from the public from the 2019 floods in Arkansas, and assisting in educational programs at the library. I also learned how to sort through microfilm to find past newspaper articles for the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas, and I had the opportunity to handle nineteenth-century maps and photographs.
I was excited to go to work every day. The staff members are warm and receptive, and there is always something to do. The internship program at the CALS Butler Center is designed to make sure that interns are independent and learn from their experiences, instead of constantly following orders and instruction. This work has helped to give me a skillset that will put me ahead of my classmates in the future.
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