Monday, April 15, 2013

Oral History Intern - Final Thoughts

My internship with the Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection has finally come to a close, although I feel like I just started. To reiterate my thoughts from an earlier post, the experience has been twofold: I got some priceless hands-on archival training and learned a wealth of political history about my home state. The training has equipped me to sort through an oral history collection, narrow in on the important topics, figures, and dates, and create description using common encoding and content standards: EAD and DACS. It’s also given me experience with Archivist’s Toolkit and furthered my familiarity with using name and subject headings. I’m happy to have made my mark on the collection by taking a long, unwieldy finding aid and breaking it down into several smaller, more manageable ones so that resources are easier to locate.

On the history side of things, I feel like I’ve taken an advanced class on Georgia’s modern political history, but all of my instructors are speaking from firsthand experience. Every Wednesday since January I’ve had the opportunity to hear stories from former governors, campaign managers, commissioners, secretaries, civil rights leaders, and legislators on the state and national level. The personal accounts of different interviewees often weave together, presenting a variety of perspectives on key events and people. Across the collection, discussions of campaigns, policies, controversies, and important leaders interconnect to form a vast and complex body of knowledge filtered through the personalities that shine through each speaker.

One such speaker I will leave you with is Bill Shipp, a towering figure in Georgia journalism, and, as of this post, the most recently interviewed subject for the collection. Between Mr. Shipp and his interviewer, the perennial Bob Short, the air in the room is thick with erudition on Georgia politics (at one point Bill and Bob briefly raise the question of which one of them has more expertise). Shipp does an amazing job of packing in a career’s worth of history and experience into this hour and seventeen minute discussion. In covering the civil rights struggle, the major elections since 1946, and a range of other topics, the interview acts as a very nice representative slice of the overall ROGP collection.

Post by Steve Armour, Intern, Russell Library

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