We bid farewell to our intern this afternoon. Alison has shown herself to be a dedicated worker and a true asset to the archives. We will miss her, but we wish her well as she continues her graduate studies and moves on to the next step in her career! Please read on for her final intern update.
This is my final blog entry, and while part of me wants to say the time has flown by, the truth is these last few weeks have been a bit more measured, as I’ve savored the time and become part of the rhythm of the archives. Although the first weeks were a flurry of new learning and meetings, a certain sense of calm has defined the end of my time here; confidence in my interactions with patrons, awareness of the needs of the reference staff, and determination to complete small processing projects has characterized this time. That is not to say that these haven’t been busy weeks!
Week 5 saw the advent of new challenges in the form of my first record entered into Archivists’ Toolkit for a small collection of family papers. The Coughlin and Gray Family Papers represent my first taste of realistic archival practice in that there were preservation concerns during processing as well as research needs in the compilation of the scope and contents note and biographical sketch. When composing biographical information for the finding aid, I read diary entries from the collection, learning much fascinating early history of Washington Harbor on Isle Royale in the process. To read the firsthand account of a child who spent two years on the island in the 1890s adds such a human element to the history; it’s made an indelible impression on my memory.
Week 6 was Alumni Reunion week at Michigan Technological University, and the Archives played a role as well. We opened early for three days and allowed access on Saturday; I have to say it was a very busy week for the reference staff! We had a visiting researcher from Norway looking into the first Norwegians who worked in the copper mining companies, which had us all working hard to find useful and relevant materials for her including employment records, biographical and photographical vertical files, church and community documents, and mining company ledgers, among many others. There was also an influx of visitors wanting to revisit memories from their time at Michigan Tech; many requested staff and faculty directories, individual photos, and Keweenawan yearbooks. I also processed another small collection, which was just as exciting and interesting as the first, but not as daunting. One aspect of this field that I absolutely love, is the fact that an archivist is constantly learning. We always come across new information about history, the community, and the world. That is truly exciting.
On the personal side, I have had some wonderful experiences here in the UP. Exploring nature was one of my goals, and last week I was able to get out to the North Woods Conservancy to do a bit of hiking around Conglomerate Falls, followed by some beach time at McLain State Park. Lake Superior is similar to Lake Michigan, but the beaches here have a different energy, more inscrutable and very wild. On a visit to The Orpheum in Hancock, I was fortunate to see blues musician Brian Waller perform which was incredibly fun. Local food and drink has also not disappointed; standouts include the Dark Side of the IPA at KBC and the veggie pasty at Roy’s.
Today is my last day, and there are few regrets. I truly believe I made the most of my time here, embracing the opportunities as they arose and focusing my energy on learning and absorbing everything possible in the archives. Of course, I will miss the friends I’ve made and there is so much more to learn, but I believe that is true of anything and everything in life. Any genuine passion will always reveal new challenges, new discoveries, and new truths; I’m fortunate to have found that passion in archival work and I cannot wait to see what history has in store for me!