2024Student Internship SpotlightMarch 2024School of Diplomacy News

Internship Spotlight: Working in the Archives

Ashely Skladany
Staff Writer

Nestled within the halls of Seton Hall University’s Walsh Library is a treasure trove of historical artifacts and documents that speak volumes about the institution’s rich legacy. As an undergraduate student intern at the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center, I’ve had the privilege of engaging with this repository of memories, unraveling narratives from previous eras, and engaging in the meticulous craft of preserving history.

This past semester, I have been working under the guidance of Quinn Christie, Seton Hall University’s Public Services Archivist, whose expertise and mentorship have been invaluable throughout this immersive experience. Most of my time has been spent diving into the Seton Hall Photographs Collection, where I have been able to grasp a variety of archival management and preservation skills. 

The goal of the Msgr. Noe Field Archives is to preserve and collect materials relating to Seton Hall’s history, ensuring that the Seton Hall community and public have access to those resources. The Archives and the Walsh Library host events to display archive resources, including explorations of the past of the school like presentations of preserved art relating to the history of Seton Hall and its larger community in the Walsh Gallery. The archive also recently documented the 100th anniversary of The Setonian, Seton Hall University’s official undergraduate newspaper, by digitizing early editions of The Setonian for increased public access. 

At the heart of my internship lies the hands-on process of rehousing and processing photographs, a task that has not only honed my organizational skills but has also provided me with unique insights into Seton Hall’s storied past. From capturing the fervor of student protests in the tumultuous late 1960s to stumbling upon snapshots of historical documents, including a congratulatory letter from President Dwight Eisenhower to Seton Hall on its 100th anniversary, each photograph serves as a window into a distinct moment in time.

I have also had the opportunity to perform transcription work, a process which allows greater public accessibility to our digitized documents. The particular project I have been focusing upon involves transcribing the diary of a Seton Hall student from 1873, offering a firsthand account of life during that era from the direct private words of a student, instead of public opinions. 

Many people tend to view history as something distant and irrelevant to our lives today. However, my experience in the archives has shown me just how important it is to preserve history, even the smaller, more personal stories. Every person’s life contributes to a larger narrative, and it’s fascinating to see how individuals’ experiences have shaped the history of Seton Hall University.

Beyond the opportunity to access tangible artifacts from Seton Hall’s rich history, my internship has equipped me with a comprehensive understanding of the field of archival curation, from metadata description to digitization techniques. My experience within the Msgr. Noe Field Archives has strengthened my passion for public history, reinforcing to me the importance of disseminating historical knowledge to broader audiences than may have previously been possible. 

As I reflect on my internship experience thus far, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to work alongside many skilled archivists. Each day brings new insights, new challenges, and new connections to the past, reaffirming my passion for historical preservation and scholarly inquiry. In the archives of Seton Hall University, I’ve found not just a place of work, but a community of dedicated individuals united by a common purpose: to safeguard the past for future generations.

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