Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Secret Lives of Interns: Field Trip to the Baltimore City Archives

Last Field Trip of the Summer: The Baltimore City Archives

A Blog Post by Kristin Davidson

Last Friday August 20th we had our last field trip of the summer to the Baltimore City Archives at its new home on Matthews Street. At this point many interns had completed their 10 week internship, so our group of interns had dwindled down to me, Melina, and Brittney. Rachel Kassman and Jennifer Vess accompanied us, and Intern Sara came back for the occasion.

“I wanted to go! This semester marks the beginning of my research for my Master's Thesis, on a topic directly related to Baltimore City's history. This was a great opportunity for me to have an introduction to the archives where I will be doing some of that research.”

We were told to recognize the building by the “Southern Steel Shelving Company” sign. When we arrived at the Baltimore City Archives, we were welcomed by Dr. Papenfuse, the Maryland State Archivist and the staff at the BCA.

Dr. Edward Papenfuse, archivist of the State of Maryland!

Dr. Papenfuse told us the history of how the BCA came to be house in this warehouse. It was a long story beginning with the Works Progress Administration, Historical Records Survey in the 1930s, which hired people to survey and catalog records of America’s history, and ending with the archives removal to its current location after being housed in less than optimal conditions.

Or as Brittney stated, “The BCA almost disappeared altogether, but with the help of Dr. Papenfuse and other dedicated individuals, the important records of Baltimore City have been saved and are in the process of finding a home and in the early stages of being made available for public research.

We also got to take a tour of their scanning room which has five super special scanners for scanning all shapes and sizes of materials!

Look at all those scanners! Positively drool-worthy.

Then Dr. Papenfuse took us back into the WAREHOUSE…

Entrance to the storage area.


That's us, aaaaallll the way down there in the middle!

Dr. Papenfuse talks to us about the issues involved in storing
collections as massive as the Baltimore City and Maryland State Archives.

And Rachel Kassman found some interesting photo opportunities.

An interesting perspective - fly on the wall...or maybe box on a shelf?

Overall it was a great last field trip for the few of us interns left. We learned a lot about the history of the city and its archives. But Sara’s favorite part was watching the archivists: “Even more amusing was seeing the way our two archivists on the trip, Rachel and Jenn, got excited over the scanning machines. If you ever want to excite an archivist, just talk about organization methods and document scanning!”

Jenn speaking excitedly about scanning and digitization!

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