Journey to becoming an Archivist/Preservationist

History Major

You want to be a teacher?

No.

The most common question that history majors get asked as above is about teaching. Teaching is not what I wanted to do, so as a undergraduate history major what did I want to do? Well I wasn’t sure. But shortly I would figure it out.  In taking a standard course that was a requirement for history majors we had to read an electronic version of the book Careers for Students of History which I have linked too. So in reading this I found a few ideas I was interested in such as maybe working in a museum. As I went through and read the blurbs about each part of the museum descriptions I wasn’t quite sure it was for me but I wrote it down. I went through the list of the different job types that historians could work in and then I came across archives. In reading the description it was like reading about a position that was cherry picked just for me.

What comes next then I figured out the type of field I wanted to be in but how do you get started in the field or get involved. While there are many different paths to take I read the article pretty close and found you have to have an Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS)/Masters of Library Science (MLS), Masters of History (MA, usually American History for the U.S) and Masters of Public History (MA).

Like most people i had never heard of any of these programs outside the history ones. Therefore my next step was to find out what is an MLIS/MLS. I was working on a minor in Renaissance History (1 course in) when I was researching this at the time. In researching the  degree I was having more success in finding out about MLIS programs. In finding information about this I found out that my current University offers an MLIS program and Information Science as a minor.

I switched my minor to Information Science and started taking courses in the subject. While do this program I had the opportunity to interview an archivist in one of my courses. I went to the S.C. state archive and history department for my interview and not only got a great interview but got a personalized tour of the stacks, the reference room materials and got an in-depth instruction on how to use the ancestry.com software for free. After the interview the archivist mentioned the idea of an internship at the department and gave me the contact information for the person in charge of the program. This interview took place towards the end of the spring semester. Shortly after the end of the semester I got in contact with the person in charge of the program and received a volunteer internship.

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