(Hello, internship! How do I look?)
When my Mimi first asked what I would be doing at my internship, I proudly told her – in the words made famous by Nicholas Cage: “I’m going to steal the Declaration of Independence.” Which elicited a look of horror from her.
Of course, I won’t actually steal the Declaration in my time here.
I’ll be too busy keeping up with everything else that’s going on. And, honestly, who would want to steal the Declaration anyway? How could that end up going remotely well? I’d hate to be the person caught selling it on the black market. America would call for a lynching. For that matter, what poor idiot would buy the thing?
But while I wouldn’t hang the Declaration of Independence on my wall, I sure love walking by and looking at it any day I choose. It is beautiful. It is powerful. It is something else. Things like this get me goofily excited about history.
In fact, the whole internship gets me goofily excited about history. Specifically, I work in the Department of Education and Public Programming. We ensure that visitors gain the most from their experience at the National Archives. We have a center, called the Boeing Learning Center, open from 10 – 4 every day. For one thing, it’s the only space in the museum where photography is allowed (see above photo of me with the Declaration). Secondly, we have access to over 1,000 facsimiles of documents for the public to peruse. These include state specific records, the Zimmerman telegram, the Articles of Confederation, and more. Fun fact: the Articles are sewn together on parchment that reaches 13 feet in length.
See how much I’m learning? Everyone here retains incredible amounts of information; I don’t feel like they get enough credit for their hard work. Maybe by the end of the semester I’ll be able to accurately point someone to a cool document in their home state and detail its history. Realistically though, I doubt I’ll be as incredible as my supervisor. In my efforts though, I plan to explore the files thoroughly to familiarize myself with them.
I’ve felt insanely well-welcomed. The first week focused primarily on orientation, but as we get into this next week, we will begin to delve into our personal projects. Already I have a deadline for a huge blog post that I’ll be compiling over the next few weeks.
Writing with social media allows me to expand my flexibility within my field. Certainly so far it’s been very different than the writing I’m accustomed to: creative writing, personal blogging, and journalistic. This is interpretive writing. While I hope I can adjust quickly, I’m glad I can step out of my comfort zone and learn to write in various ways.
And I’m learning a ton on top of that. I can’t express how valuable it is for visitors at the Archives to experience some of our holdings hands-on. Even if its a copy, there’s a different feel to it than looking through a pane of glass. Everyone should make a stop at the Learning Center, if at least to see the specific documents from their state. For me already it has made the experience here much more valuable.
Really, everything here is incredible. In the Archives. In the Washington Center. And in D.C. in general. Let’s get excited about America!
Also, on a slightly unrelated note, there are presidents everywhere I turn in D.C. They’re at work, they’re on memorials, they’re on tv (since I’ve had to watch Scandal and House of Cards since arriving). They even made an appearance at the Nationals game on Sunday. And as awesome as that was, it was also a little frightening. Let’s get excited about America?