Submitted by Camilla Stegall
Hello! My name is Camilla Stegall. I am honored to be the 2022 recipient of the Carroll Hart Scholarship to attend the Georgia Archives Institute.
First, a little about myself. I am 2022 graduate from Kennesaw State University (KSU). I was encouraged by Dr. Jennifer Dickey, the Public History Coordinator at KSU, to apply for the Institute. During my time at KSU, I developed strong relationships with the archivists and had heard about the Society of Georgia Archivists. (It was through them that I learned about SGA and applied for and presented in the Student Research Showcase at the SGA 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting.) I am thankful for the opportunity to attend the Institute as I go on to attend the MSLIS online Leep program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the fall.
Now to the Institute. The first six days were filled with instruction on foundational archival concepts, including appraisal, arrangement and description, preservation (physical and digital!), reference, copyright, and outreach. Everything that you need to “identify, preserve, and make available” archival materials. Pam Hackbart-Dean, Tina Mason Seetoo, and Katherine Fisher were wonderful primary instructors whose years of experience are evident in their instruction—from their lectures to their class activities to get us thinking about how we would approach challenges and daily tasks in archives.
As mentioned, the lectures were interlaced with group activities and case studies. This was fantastic for me as I am a “hands-on learner!” In these groups, I also learned from my peers. The twenty of us in the cohort came from a variety of backgrounds and locations. I met a community archivist and a university archivist both from California, an English professor from Alabama, a library associate from Missouri, and an archives volunteer from Atlanta along with several fellow early career archivists from Metro Atlanta. The opportunity to visit and work on assignments with members of my cohort with such a wide array of knowledge and experience was fascinating and eye-opening into how different institutions and individuals approach their work.
Additionally, we listened to guest speakers about topics on archival projects and organizations. The guest speakers for 2022 were Tamika Strong of the Georgia Archives about her work creating a community archives of African American funeral programs, Morna Gerrard of Georgia State University (GSU) about GSU’s Women’s / Gender & Sexuality Collections and projects, SGA President Cathy Miller about SGA and the benefits of it and similar organizations, and Joshua Kitchens about Clayton State University’s Master of Archival Studies program and The Academy of Certified Archivists and how to take part in them. These guest speakers contributed to the Institute by showing us poignant examples of individual and institutional projects that benefit communities by preserving and telling their stories. The overview of the archival organizations and professional development on the last day was a great way to end by providing us possible “next steps” as GAI alumni.
2022 was the first time the Institute has been in-person since the pandemic began. As such, we had several educational excursions during our two weeks. The cohort toured the Georgia Archives and learned about its history; on another day we visited the Georgia Archives Conservation Lab, where we met the conservators and watched demonstrations; and, we also toured the GSU Special Collections and Archives before we attended the GAI Reception. At the reception, we had a lovely evening as we mingled with the GAI Board, our internship supervisors, and amongst ourselves.
Week 2 centered on our three-day internships at sites around Metro Atlanta. I, along with two other attendees, interned at the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory University. Our supervisor was Laura Starratt, the Senior Collections Archivist. For our project, we worked with one of Emory’s star collections, the David R. Scott and Anne Lurton Scott papers. David Scott is a retired astronaut and the seventh man to walk on the moon. The collection consisted of materials relating to Scott’s missions and Anne Lurton Scott’s experience as an “astronaut wife.” We processed the printed materials, correspondence, and photographs in the collection (all the while geeking out about NASA). The three of us are honored to have worked on this collection and to make it more accessible to students and researchers. Additionally, during our time at Emory, we toured their conservation lab and archives. We also met with many members of the archives staff and learned about what they do. As I am exploring what facet of archives I want to pursue, I appreciate the time that they spent with us.
Overall, I am grateful for the amazing learning experience that I had during my two weeks at the Georgia Archives Institute. It provided me with a firm foundation of knowledge and insight into the field of archives as I take my next steps to becoming a full-fledged “Georgia Archivist!” Thank you for your support in this endeavor!