I was working on this post a while back and never had a chance to post it, so here it is. Trust me, this summer was bussyyy…I’m still playing catch-up. Enjoy! -AM
In the three months since I last posted, a lot has happened. I completed Spring 2014 semester classes, as well as my first semester of summer 2014 classes. LSC 557: Libraries and Information in Society was particularly enjoyable, it being the liveliest class I’ve taken so far (entirely a good thing) and included lots of debates and discussions about current trends in the information field. You know that stereotype about librarians being boring? Not true, so not true.
I am currently halfway through my summer practicum. I am working at the Smithsonian Institution Archives, my third placement at a Smithsonian unit. The others were the Anacostia Community Museum Archives (’12) and the Archives of American Art (’13). I have greatly enjoyed the experiences I’ve obtained so far. Most of my previous experience has been from the manuscript side of archives, so I was pleased at the prospect of working with audiovisual materials this summer. I am working on digitizing video footage with the Digital Services Division within SIA.
The first project I worked on during my placement was to review Here at the Smithsonian episodes and divide them into shorter “videocast” segments for eventual internet airings. The episodes date from the 1980s and feature different Smithsonian units, as well as new exhibits that the Institution wanted to publicize. From these shorter segments, I identified the ones that I found most interesting or intriguing. Because of the format and content, I felt some of the segments could be used as “throwback” exhibits highlighting anniversaries. For example, both the National Museum of African Art and the National Museum of American History celebrated their 50th anniversaries this year. It would be neat to build online exhibits highlighting their pasts, including footage of past exhibits. The other idea I had was to utilize some of the segments featuring exhibits at the National Museum of American History, the Anacostia Community Museum and the National Air and Space Museum to examine how the Smithsonian Institution has interpreted African American history throughout the years.
As an MLIS graduate student with an interest in African American history and culture, I am always interested in the interpretation of race and public memory. Within the Smithsonian Institution, the Anacostia Community Museum (ACM) and the National Museum of American History (NMAH) have played the biggest roles in showcasing this history, with ACM being heavily involved in educating and promoting African American history from the perspective of an individual community. In a way, until recently, ACM has served as the “default African American museum” in the Smithsonian Institution. With the construction of the National Museum of African American History and Culture being currently underway on the mall, it will be fascinating to see how these roles will change. Personally, I hope to see some collaboration in programming and exhibits.
Since completing the Here at the Smithsonian footage, I have been working on the Black Aviators Videohistory Collection. The oral history project focused on interviewing five pioneers of black flight: Cornelius Coffey, Lewis Jackson, Janet Bragg, Alfred “Chief” Anderson, and Harold Hurd. Unlike many oral history projects, these interviews were captured in video.