What I Did This Summer: Make history more accessible
"What I Did This Summer" follows a number of University of South Carolina students this summer as they work, travel, and explore the world. Many of them are blogging about their adventures. This is the tenth story in the series, and it was written by Melanie Griffin, a journalism senior who was a summer intern in the University's Office of Publications.
Jennifer Daniels and Emily Rogers spent the summer tackling history firsthand as interns in the University Libraries.
Both history majors heard about the positions through their History 480 class, which sets students up with internships at agencies that prepare historical resources for public audiences.
"I didn't know what area of history I wanted to specialize in, which is one reason my advisor suggested I take the course this summer," said Daniels, a senior set to graduate in December.
"I've learned how to preserve historical documents and, more importantly, why these documents are saved through the years."
After digitizing the 1949 Garnet and Black yearbook as an introduction to the technology she would be using, Daniels started working on her assigned personal project of digitizing the James Glen Papers, held by South Caroliniana Library.
"This has been a collection the South Caroliniana Library has wanted to digitize for a long time," said Patricia Sasser, the project manager.
Daniels scanned over 300 of the pre-revolutionary South Carolina governor's papers -- including documents from King George of England, marriage settlements, and correspondences -- into the library's computer system. After changing the images from tiffs to jpegs for more compatible viewing, she compiled bibliographic data by entering each document's creator, date, source, and other descriptive tags into a spreadsheet. Then she added the documents to a content management system for website viewing.
"We as a library collaborate with 33 institutions," said Kate Boyd, digital collections librarian at Thomas Cooper Library. "We want to make our digitized collection available to the whole state because it has a broad appeal."
Rogers' project was to organize the S.C. Political Collection's League of Women Voters documents.
"My favorite part was looking at the papers from around election times because the organization can't be partisan but you can still kind of see it through changes that were made depending on who was in charge," Rogers said. She read every piece of paper in the boxes of files she added to the ongoing collection. Some date as far back as the 1960s, but most are concentrated between 1994 and 2008.
From 17th century indentured servant documents with wax seals and still-legible signatures to the League of Women Voters' inner administrative workings, Daniels and Rogers helped the library in its mission of making history more accessible.
"We're constantly looking for collections to be done," Boyd said. "It's great to have such eager help."
More 2010 "What I Did This Summer" stories