Category Archives: HistoryMaking

Unpaid Internship Opportunity: Congressional Leadership Fund

The Congressional Leadership Fund is currently seeking students interested in learning more about campaigning and effective public communications. Student interns will gain invaluable knowledge about the democratic process and work to become adept communicators through hands on experience with elected officials, candidates, and the general public. The internship opportunities for this Fall are open to any student; however, they must apply and be accepted. Hours are flexible, but students must be able to commit to 8-10 hours per week and are responsible for their own transportation.

The 2018 election cycle promises to be one of the most contested elections in history.  The

Congressional Leadership Fund will be an important part of this election and you will have a firsthand view of what it takes to win a campaign.

Eligible students will be provided with academic credit or service hours. While these positions are unpaid, they will provide political opportunities not available elsewhere and upon completion of the program, a letter of recommendation to a future employer or college will be provided.

Interns will be expected to assist the Congressional Leadership Fund

  • Grassroots Organizing
  • Event Planning
  • Research
  • Data Entry
  • Coalition Outreach Activities
  • Voter Contacts
  • Office Management

If you have any questions or would like more information, please email Blake Hale at bhale@theclf.org.

CLF Intern Flier (Fall) — Hale[1265][9801]

Working as a Collection Intern at the Alexander Majors House

My first several weeks working as a collection intern at the Alexander Majors House Museum have proven to be both challenging and engaging. My past public history experience has been primarily in archives and this is the first internship where I’ve been able to work with museum objects. My initial assignment was to make an inventory of the house’s objects. This has been a bit daunting, given that there are a total of fourteen rooms and hallways, each chockfull of artifacts. The ultimate goal of the internship is to catalog all objects into the museum’s database for accession.

The most common obstacle has been my lack of knowledge about Victorian period antiquities. Fortunately, I was provided with a rough list and description of each room’s objects. With the aid of my smartphone and the internet, I researched objects on the list and compared them with objects in the house. For example, after learning about the aesthetic differences between Bristol and Old Paris vases I was able to distinguish them throughout the house.

However, there have been instances where I’ve been completely baffled by an object and its purpose. For instance, there are some odd utensils in the kitchen (like the one pictured below) whose functions completely elude me. In these cases, I write the best description possible and make a note to get help identifying it later. I then take pictures of the object for later identification. Once finished, I’ll go through the house with my supervisor and reexamine those particular artifacts.

Identifying and learning about Victorian artifacts has been a rewarding experience. This knowledge will become especially useful if I plan to work at a museum dealing with this time period.

-Kevin Ploth

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(What the heck is this??)

LaBudde Special Collection Transcription: Learning from One and Many Voices

Coming back to work on transcriptions for LaBudde after having worked on transcriptions from interviews I had conducted for the LatinxKC project has been a little bit of an adjustment. It is interesting looking at the interviews now from the perspective of having finished the oral history class as opposed to my thoughts while I was taking the class. I remember the frustration of trying to hear and sort out many voices as opposed to just one voice, but I have now come to see the place for different approaches. Having read about the therapeutic benefits of a group interview, I can see why someone might choose the more informal round table method as a way to preserve history. I can also see the benefits of a monologue and removing some of the external sources of intimidation which might threaten to question a person’s memory. One of the primary take aways I had from the oral history course was the importance of memory and finding how events felt and were remember for individuals and communities. I have noticed that one benefit of a relaxed group is that the group self corrects some of the flows in memory in such a way that it allows for the speaker to preserve their memory of the event in a less threatened way. Although the little group may correct each other on the dates, the shared community of the group, particularly in the lesbian round table interview I’m working with, seems to be very conscious and sensitive towards the feelings and memories of the other group members. Yet, I have also found that self correction occures for individuals without the group, such as in the monologue I have transcribed. The difference is that a group self correcting often becomes chaotic and the very corrections the group wishes to impose can be lost within the jumble of words, laughter, and jesting which are usual benefits of such groups. The individual on the other hand, when self correcting, is limited to their own conflicting recollection, and although more understandable, the corrections can still result in relatively jumbled and uncertain conclusions. What the monologue style confession does give is a free flow of what the narrator finds important. I say confession, because with the existence of the microphone, the narrator is still very aware that they are speaking to other people and wants to please those listeners. They must do so, however, without those listeners being there to give supportive listening cues or to directly participate in the guiding of the conversation. So, in some ways, the monologue is the most authentic confession of the person’s memories and values of what was important. But in other ways, the lack of a living person and the smile or nod of their head, can leave narrators monologueing to expectations which are not even there.

The group interview, in contrast, would appear to have the greatest level of interruptions, tangents, and outright questioning of the narrator’s memory. Yet, the comfort of having friends and a shared sense of support and community in the group interview of the lesbian round table allowed the speakers to question each other without fear. Thus, despite the frequent outbursts of laughter and side comments, the group is comfortable and most members are able to reflect on the events and what it felt like to them.

On a more critical note, I do not believe I would prefer to conduct either of the interview forms I’ve been transcribing. The monologue, while therapeutic and potentially more comfortable for the speaker, holds potential pitfalls in the assumption that the narrator will no longer be nervous with the living person being removed and the cold inanimate judgment of the tape recorder remaining. Yet, if I had gotten an interview with the narrator (which was the case of the monologue) then a monologue might allow the narrator to speak and contradict me in a safer nonconfrontational format. This is a worthy benefit, especially if there were conflicting memories and perspectives of events and places between the interview and the monologue’s account.

I also do no believe I’d want to do the group interview either, but for different reasons. Although the group interview could be more comfortable and allow for womens voices to be presented in a more natural and freeing way, the difficulty of hearing such voices can be a problem. Although the group interview provides a great sense of the group’s relationships and community, as well as still effectively conveying key points if the narrators’ views, it can also lose the particular views and memories of some of the individual members. The group reflection allows for sparked memories to be added to the narrative and a weaving of stories and fragments into a group sense of shared experience. The individual strands and story treads which contribute to the overall weave are visible, but can be lost in the blending of so many stories and threads. I have noticed that some of the quieter narrators in the group interview tend to be overtalked and some individuals with differing perspectives can be ganged up on by more vocal or forceful speakers. Some of the softer spoken narrators can be lost in the midst of background jesting or bombastic laughter. While creating a great sense of the group and allowing a format which sparks recollections, reflections, and additional details to stories, the different individual perspectives and memory of events can be lost in a group interview. Most of this is because the additional details and freedom to jump in create overtalking. More importantly, the round table group interview was so comfortable that it allowed some narrators to jump in late in the recording, or suddenly appear on record when they had silently been participating the whole time. The increase of influencing factors and visual cues present in the round table makes an audio recording confusing to listen to. Without a visual recording included with the audio it is, at times, nearly impossible to know who and what is being talked to or about. Individual interviews with each person would have allowed for much deeper and complete interviews in many ways, esoecially for the more timid speakers. Again, the group interview does provides a sense of the groups memory and also allows for contributions to each other stories by the narrators in ways which cannot be discounted. Yet, without individual interviews, I can’t help but wonder if the stories told by the group are those the quieter members would have told on their own, or if the stronger members of the group, with the best of intentions or without even knowing it, guided the group into a memory distinctly imprinted with their leadership.

Almost done!

Hello all!

My last post I talked about how I am almost finished with entering the entire collection into the museum’s collections management software. I can safely say that next week that will finally be finished. It is a bit relieving finally getting this task accomplished. When I first came to the American Royal almost two years ago, I had no idea the amount of work that was needed. After my first couple of weeks I quickly knew that I could not complete the task within the ten weeks I was initially hired for. I was working off a Microsoft Access database that was created in 2003 and was horribly outdated and was missing over 400 entries. I decided the only way to accomplish this task thoroughly was to go through each file individually and to ignore the Access database. Now I have entered just over 500 artifacts and when I am finished it should be closer to 525.

When I am finished with this I will start writing the action plan and organizing the collections storage areas available to me now. The end of the semester is quickly approaching, but everything is finally coming together.

Thanks for reading!

Philip Bland

Before getting into the weeds of preparing for the move there are a few loose ends for me to finish. First, I need to complete digitizing the collection records for the museum, which has been a year and a half process so far. This is important to the move for two reasons. One, I am updating the collection as I go through this process, something that has not been done for awhile. Because of a lack of sufficient staffing, a few items have been misplaced simply because it was not recorded when an item was moved. Also, the collections will be searchable and it will much easier to look up a specific object or to create lists. I am hoping to finish this project within the next month so I can start working on the action plan for the American Royal and start offering suggestions on collection storage based off of current needs.

During this entire process I am also organizing the collection storage areas and addressing collection storage issues that need to be addressed immediately. This includes new storage materials and finding space for collection storage at the current location. This will also help get a better idea of what will be needed at the new facility.

Thanks for reading!

 

Moving a Museum

Hello, my name is Philip Bland and I am the Collections Intern at the American Royal Association. Most people know the American Royal for its barbecue contest, livestock shows, or horse shows and few know that the American Royal has its own museum. For the past year and a half I have been working under the Director of Education, Kristie Larson, to help digitize the museum’s collection catalog and implement some best practices in collection storage. This semester though, we are pivoting from addressing current needs to looking towards the future.

Last October, the American Royal Association announced the relocation of its events and offices to a brand new facility located in Kansas City, Kansas. With it, the American Royal plans to incorporate an education center in addition to its current museum. With the prospect of a brand new museum at a new location, one of the first questions posed to me was how do we move the collection? This semester I will be working on developing an action plan for how to move/store the collection to the new museum. Also, I will provide a list of collection storage needs and options for the new museum. While working on this plan I will be reaching out to other museum professionals in the area that have also recently gone through moves or facility upgrades that required their collection to be moved and/or stored.

I am excited to take on a project that will expand my knowledge of collection management and also provides an opportunity to network with other museum professionals in the Kansas City area. I hope to pass on some of the knowledge to you as well throughout the process.

Philip Bland

LaBudde Special Collections Transcription: Learning to Hear

Today I began two transcriptions which, though similar in focus, couldn’t have resulted in more diverse work experiences.  One was an individual monologue about the gay scene in Kansas City since the 1960s.  The other was a round table discussions of the different experiences of a group of lesbians in Kansas City.  While the monologue flowed fairly smoothly and demanded more focus on grammatical form, due to the narrators use of pauses and vocal delivery, the round table require more nuanced attention.  With frequent interruptions, laughter, and joking among the narrators as they seamlessly flowed off of and into each others conversations, I found myself needing to stop and learn the narrator’s unique voices.  While the first project demanded I try to understand the rhythm and meaning of the narrator’s delivery (to know what should be a period or comma), the other demanded I listen for distinct voice markers.

In both cases I needed to hear the individual quality of the narrator’s voice, but in different ways.  I couldn’t simply type out what I heard.  In the monologue, without first hearing the narrators rhythm and broader topic, I could very easily structure the statements incorrectly.  In the round table interview, the general lack of names being given before speaking and the boisterous free-flow of conversation, left me confused without better context.  Though both required topical context, the round table drove me to become familiar with the voices themselves.  In both transcriptions I needed to start orienting myself a few minutes into the recording, not at the beginning.  This was a new experience compared to those stories I had heard since childhood which start at, you guessed it, the beginning.  I needed to not only hear the rural style to “Pat’s” Midwestern voice as opposed to the higher pitched, New Jersey fast pace of Giselle’s voice; but I also needed to hear the more nuanced differences between the rich tones of Sue’s Davenport voice  and Bev’s Kansas City voice.

The longer I listened, over and over, I started to hear the vocal tones of different laughs and the patterns of different speakers.  I began to become familiar with their voices, to know them.  I began to really hear them.  Sometimes foreign to the historical voices of monographs and journal essays, the recordings brought be into a more challenging and more personal type of history.  It was challenging, disorienting, and a little unsettling.  But it was also beautiful.  The struggle to discover the voices of the historical agents was present, just like in other forms of research, but in new ways.  It wasn’t enough to hear the narrator’s voice, to get their words, but I had to discern their voice for its distinct qualities.  It wasn’t enough to know the words and actions of the historical agent, but what makes them different from other historical agents.  Today was a wonderful example of literally learning to hear the voices of those in the past who I had never heard before, and I can’t wait to hear what they will say next.

LaBudde

GLAMA

Digitizing Harry Truman’s Belongings

My first digitization project was a collection of photographs from President Truman’s first inauguration. I scanned pictures of Truman’s family, Vice President Alben Barkley, the inaugural ball and parade, and the inauguration ceremony. Archivists must wear gloves when handling the photographs to prevent damaging them. After scanning, I began the process of entering the description of the photographs and putting them on the Harry S. Truman Library’s website. For each photograph, I wrote a brief title and recorded its size, color, and photographer. I also described each photograph’s content and identified any significant people, which sometimes required research. Once the descriptions were complete, the photographs were uploaded to the website.

I’ve also digitized hundreds of pages of documents in addition to these photographs, including State Department memos to President Truman regarding the Korean War and several of Harry Truman’s notebooks from his military training in World War I. Handling President Truman’s personal belongings has been one of the most exciting parts of my internship. I’ve also gained an appreciation for the art that goes into properly scanning frail and awkward documents.

Here are a few pages from one of Truman’s notebooks:

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The Value of Digitization

One aspect of my job as an archivist at the Truman Library and Museum has been record digitization. Although this can be a tedious and repetitive task, I find it as rewarding as processing collections and writing finding aids. As a researcher, I understand the value of having online access to photographs and documents. Researchers anywhere in the world can view records online, and many archives are digitizing their holdings. Digitized records can also be shared on social media to reach a broader audience.

For example, I scanned Margaret Truman’s diary from 1941 because the Truman Library wanted her December 7th and 8th entries to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Over the past two days, the Truman Library has shared the diary pages on their social media accounts and website. As of today, 275 people have liked or shared the diary pages on Facebook and 139 people have liked or retweeted them on Twitter. This is why I find digitization so valuable. Making history accessible is a large and rewarding part of what public historians do. I was able to connect over 400 people to an important part of our past simply by scanning two documents and putting them online. Digitization may not be the most exciting task, but it is certainly an important one filled with meaning.

Center for the Study of the Korean War Collection

One collection I’ve been fortunate to help process and write the finding aid for was donated by the Center for the Study of the Korean War in Independence, Missouri. Whenever I’m not working on a specific project, I work on this massive 250+ box collection. My task has been to examine the contents of each folder and create folder titles.

After the initial survey, the curator will review the collection again and discard anything he or she determines to be of little value to researchers. In this collection, for instance, there were many webpage documents on the Korean War that originated from unreliable websites. There were also materials unrelated to the Korean War, such as articles about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. These types of materials will likely be disposed of during the next processing phase in order to make the collection more manageable and relevant to researchers. Most of what I’ve worked with has been very interesting, however. I’ve read many letters and diaries from Korean War veterans, Korean War propaganda, and other wartime materials. I’ve been working as diligently as possible to help get this collection processed and make it available to the public.