Historian Skills

My supervisor has been great at exposing me to many valuable skills that I can use in my future career as a historian.  Recently, we got the opportunity to visit the historical Howard University. Some of my favorite alumni include Mrs. Huxtabel a.k.a. Phylicia Rashad, Civil Rights activists, Stockely Carmichael and Andrew Young Jr,  as well as writer, Toni Morrison. I was very grateful to be in an institution that helped create such influential people. One of the projects my supervisor and I will be working on this summer will be records management of 72 boxes of Network to Freedom files that are being housed by the Museum Resource Center. We have to create an organizational plan that will allow us to organize every piece of paper in those 72 boxes. I know what you’re thinking, yes that is a lot of organizing! We have to come to an agreement on what is considered “Permanent,” and needs to stay archived and what is “Temporary” that can be discarded. To help us, we visited Lopez Matthews to give us information on getting this process started. He had a lot of material on working with collections and how to catalog appropriately.

Remember these??

Remember these??

Study area at Howard University.

Study area at Howard University.

              The 72 boxes that we are set to organize will eventually be digitized. I won’t be able to do this process but my supervisor wanted me to see how the process worked and give me a little practice.
Scanning a portion of  General Oliver Otis Howard's diary.

Lopez scanning a portion of General Oliver Otis Howard’s diary.

I'm having too much fun scanning.

I’m having too much fun scanning.

                    I also got to see the amazing collection of documents at Howard.
A copy of 12 Years A Slave by Solomon Northup.

A n 1854 edition of “12 Years A Slave” by Solomon Northup.

My favorite! THis is a letter Langston Hughes wrote to his friend, the Father of the Harlem Renaissance, Alain Locke. It also features one of his poems "I, Too," before it was published.

This was my favorite! This is a letter Langston Hughes wrote to his friend, the Father of the Harlem Renaissance, Alain Locke. It also features one of his poems “I, Too,” before it was published.

                      I also got the amazing opportunity to be a part of a 3 day Oral History training program in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  It was a great experience and I learned so much! I even got to put the skills I learned to practice and interviewed Coxey Toogood, a historian for NPS. I’ve always wanted to record oral histories for my remaining grandparents and this training really increased that desire. I also want to contribute my surviving paternal grandpa’s story who served in the US Army and fought in Korea to the Veterans Oral History Project with the Library of Congress. My maternal grandpa passed away 6 years ago and he served in the US Marines also fighting in the Korea War. Unfortunately, I was not able to record his story before he passed. Through this training, I was made even more aware of the importance of oral histories. Once someone passes away their first hand accounts pass with them. Its sad to think of all the stories that go untold but hopefully I can collect the stories of my surviving grandma and grandpa so that our family can look back at it in years to come.
Lu Ann showing us how to use recording equipment for oral histories.

Lu Ann showing us how to use recording equipment for oral histories.

Oral history presentation

Oral history presentation in Philadelphia.

                In the past two weeks I have really been able to learn and apply my historian skills, as I like to call them, and hope to keep using and improving them!

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