Monthly Archives: September 2016

“Guardians” of Archival Holdings

Thus far at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum archives, I’ve learned that the two most important principles guiding their archival work are the continual preservation and protection of their holdings (the document and photo collections the library owns) and the accessibility of their holdings to the public. Today I want to focus on the steps taken to protect holdings. As a new intern, one of my first tasks was watch a thirty-minute training video that portrayed the archive as the “guardian” of many of our nation’s priceless documents and photos. Unbeknownst to me, there are those who would steal documents to make a quick profit, thereby ensuring their inaccessibility to the rest of the world. As a precaution against this behavior, the entire staff’s duty is to protect the holdings they have in their possession. For example, staff members, interns, and volunteers cannot leave collections they are working on alone for any reason, whether it’s to use the bathroom, get a drink, search for a coworker, etc. Unless a coworker is present to look after the holdings, the holdings must remain with the interns at all times. Interns also have more limited access to the holdings than the regular staff. As an intern, I can’t go into the “stacks” (where the archival collections are stored) and grab a collection without a staff member present.

One reason behind these immense protection measures relates to making the holdings accessible to the public, because if someone steals a document then no one will ever have access to it again. As a “guardian” of the Truman Library’s holdings, I take this aspect of my job quite seriously and consider it an honor to be given the opportunity and responsibility to be left alone with these documents and photos. I’m very fortunate to have the chance to work with original materials relating to Harry Truman’s presidency on a daily basis.

Introduction from a New Public Historian

Hello there! My name is Kevin Ploth and I am a Master’s student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City pursuing a M. A. in history. Typically, my entries will be centered on a theme related to my work at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. But today I would like to introduce myself and explain my purposes and goals.

I am currently pursuing a degree in Public History, however, I only recently switched from the regular History track to the Public History track.  I’ve always loved researching and writing history, but have never had the disposition to become a professor. Coming up on my fourth semester in the regular History program, I started to panic after realizing that I was heading down a road unsuited to me. In the midst of this career path crisis, I decided to spend my summer interning at the Jackson County Historical Society archives to explore other potential career options. By the end of the internship, I felt like I was finally on the right path and promptly switched to the Public History program. As a part of my recent academic pivot, I’ve begun interning at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum’s archives department.

For three years I’ve lacked direction, searching for my passion and a place to apply it. I doubt I’m the only person who’s felt this way. In addition to informing you on the methods and nature of my work, I want this to be a personal experience where I can try to relate to you and share my experiences, uncertainties, reflections, and discoveries. Some of the themes I’ll be reflecting on will be audience, collaboration and sharing authority, service, and any other themes I may discover during this exciting new transition.

Public history and the archival field are both completely new to me. They are so different from the research and writing that I’ve become so comfortable with. It can be stressful at times, but I’m ready to try something new and escape the complacency that’s left me stagnant. My goal is to contribute to the field and collaborate with those around me, which I hope to accomplish by sharing my experiences at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum with you!

College internships available at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum

The Harry S. Truman Library is seeking college interns to assist with their education programs. Interns will help provide an interactive museum learning experience to third graders through an educational program at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Mo. This short term paid intern opportunity is available February – April, 2017. The interns will lead groups of 3rd grade students (8/9 yrs old) and move students to stations in the museum galleries and work with students to complete tasks in those areas. The interns will assist students in finding clues and answers within the exhibits and respond to their questions.
For more information and a full internship job description email


The Children Are Coming, the Children Are Coming!

This week most of my time was spent on preparing for School Tours, the American Royal’s largest education event of the year. Next week we will be hosting over 4,000 elementary students from across the Metro over four days. They will be learning various things about agriculture from how bees are important to agriculture to live milking demonstration. In the afternoon they will watch the Youth Rodeo, which is a fun way to end the day.

I mentioned in my previous post that the project I will be focusing on for this blog is the revision of the Royal Scholars application process. Let me explain a bit more about the American Royal’s Royal Scholars program. The Royal Scholars Program is our collegiate scholarship program. Each year a group of students who are majoring in an agriculture related field are selected to be the recipient of a $2,500 scholarship. We do not just award the scholarship and require nothing else of them though. They will make two trips to Kansas City at the Royal’s expense to help with various events. Last week they attended our Boots and Business After Hours event where they were able to introduce themselves to the business community of Kansas City and do a bit of networking. Next week they will help us with the last day of School Tours and lead workshops on Saturday for Youth Leadership Day, a daylong conference targeted towards local FFA and 4-H chapters. Since we use the Royal Scholars for so much, it is important that they are not only extraordinary students, but are articulate and leaders in their community.

I don’t want to get too wordy in one post so next week I will go over the current application process on what changes I want to make to.

Saying Hello

Hello! My name is Philip Bland and I am a Master’s student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. I am working on my M.A. in History through the Public History program and my B.A. in History is from the University of Missouri (go Tigers!). Being a lifelong Kansas Citian, I have come to truly appreciate everything this city has to offer, but have only recently discovered one of it’s oldest traditions.

I began working at the American Royal in May of 2015. I was contacted by one of my professors, Dr. Chris Cantwell, about a ten week internship with the American Royal to help organize their collections in their museum. Now, at this point the only thing I knew about the American Royal was the World Series of Barbecue, but I thought it would be good experience so I applied. Initially, the internship was only supposed to last ten weeks, but was extended for another ten weeks. After the second ten weeks were finished, I was given a part time position to help with the educational programs at the American Royal in addition to running the museum.

I will be posting each week chronicling my experiences at the American Royal. Specifically, I will be working on revising the application and selection process for the Royal Scholars program.