Over the summer, the Theodore Roosevelt Center had four remote interns who worked primarily on cataloging parts of the collection. At the end of the summer, I asked them to write a blog entry about their experience. This is the first in the series.
So, you always wanted to be an archivist? To understand the thrill of working with primary documents? You are not alone! In fact, the new Archivist of the United States has even given you a name, citizen archivists. Back in April of this year, the new AOTUS started a blog himself and one of his first posts discussed citizen archivists. He noted that the types of projects citizen archivists could participate in is only limited by our creativity in connecting with people who have a passion for our work and collections, whatever those may be, and who are willing to step in and help. Makes you sound a bit like an undercover superhero doesn’t it?
Here at the Theodore Roosevelt Center, we’ve been training and using citizen archivists in our digital library since last year, in a special effort to tap into the enthusiasm we felt locally for the then-new digital library initiative. Through the wonders of the Internet, we are able to train volunteers both on-site and remotely so we can allow people across the country to work in our collections, cataloging them in preparation for the digital library launch early next year.
As a young man during the 1880s, Theodore Roosevelt ranched and hunted in the area around Medora, North Dakota. He had come west to experience the robust, vigorous life the frontier required of a man. Later in life Roosevelt stated, “I would never have become president if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota.”
Situated on the edge of Roosevelt’s beloved Badlands, Dickinson State University has launched an ambitious initiative to promote the study of Theodore Roosevelt. The Theodore Roosevelt Center (TR Center) is developing an extensive digital library of Roosevelt materials. We are digitizing letters, cartoons, photographs, diary entries, scrapbooks, and other documents, and making them available online. We will also provide rich contextual materials to accompany the collection, creating new pathways for doing historical research.