My summer internship here at the Kentucky Historical Society has taught me a great deal. I have both improved and vastly increased my skills and also had the chance to work on some spectacular collections. Currently, I'm working towards a Master of Library and Information Science. The degree is necessary in order to find a job in a library or archive, but I knew that I needed to garner practical experience to set myself apart. The internship here at KHS appealed to me because of the variety of experiences offered in it. While here in Frankfort, I have been able to participate in every aspect of the wide spectrum of skills necessary for librarians and archivists. I was able to process, catalog, store, and digitize many different materials. I have learned about many of the programs and processes used by librarians and archivists to preserve, store, and provide access to records.
My work was split between two aspects of the KHS Special Collections and Library -- oral history and manuscripts -- and I thought I would mention two of the collections, one from each aspect, that really impressed me.
The collections of the Kentucky Oral History Commission at KHS is by far the largest I have seen, and I feel lucky to have briefly been a part of it. One collection that I had a hand in processing and cataloging was "Living with Difference: Oral Histories of Life and Disability in Kentucky." The project is a joint effort between KHS, acting as the repository, and Eastern Kentucky University, where students and faculty perform the interviews. Since I was mostly dealing with cataloging and digitizing the collection, I didn't have too much time to delve deeply into its contents. But in the small exposure I had, I found that the interviews were done with a wide variety of individuals dealing with issues that society has deemed as disabilities. As I listened to and skimmed transcripts of some of the interviews, I found the attitudes that many "disabled" individuals had toward their "disability" quite interesting. All of them acknowledged their condition, but many didn't consider it a disability nor did they feel that it impeded their life. The surprising thing was that the people interviewed had disabilities ranging from depression and arthritis to paraplegia and multiple sclerosis. The collection is quite impressive in its content and its aims to offer a voice to members of society suffering from disabilities. And this is just one of many collections held at KHS that offer insight into the culture and history of the commonwealth.
As for the manuscript collections, I was able to process and catalog a large amount of material from the Civil War era. One of the items that I found most interesting was a small notebook used to record the locations of graves of Kentucky Confederate dead throughout the South. It is called the "Atlanta Association for the Reinterment of the Kentucky Confederate Dead record book" (long name, I know). Notes were kept by Charlie Herbst on the individuals and their units, the location of the graves, and the efforts made to reinter some of the fallen soldiers. The notebook is a valuable resource in genealogy and Civil War history, and I think it will also interest the mildly curious.
---Tyson Thorpe is pursing a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) at San Jose State Univeristy in San Jose, California.