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American Archives Month: Kim Coryat, Clinton Presidential Library

American Archives Month has one week to go, and we’ve still got so much to share about the hard-working archivists in our Presidential Libraries! This post takes us out to Little Rock, AR, where we learn about this archivist’s responsibilities, experiences, and why she’s Team Socks.

Kim Coryat is a textual archivist at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library.

Kim Coryat is a textual archivist at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library.

Name: Kim Coryat

Occupation: Textual archivist at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library

How long have you worked at this library?

I was originally hired as a Museum Office Assistant in December 2004, about two weeks after the library opened.

How/why did you decide to go into the archival field?

Within a few months of my arrival in Little Rock, I realized that there was a job here at the Clinton Library for which I was eminently suited. I was an American History major in grad school, and have always been a huge politics nerd. Archivists at Presidential Libraries combine history, politics, and my other great love–reading, all into one big pile, and they mentally feast on it! The best part is they actually pay you to do this! From that point on I applied for every opening in the textual archives here at the Library. I was hired as an Archives Tech in 2006, and in 2009, they finally gave in and let me be an … [ Read all ]

American Archives Month: Regina Greenwell, Johnson Presidential Library

We are continuing to celebrate American Archives Month by showcasing the work of our Presidential Libraries archivists. This edition takes us to Austin, TX.

If you have a question about President Lyndon B. Johnson, senior archivist Regina Greenwall probably knows the answer. She has been with the Lyndon B. Johnson Library since 1976.

If you have a question about President Lyndon B. Johnson, senior archivist Regina Greenwall probably knows the answer. She has been with the Lyndon B. Johnson Library since 1976.

Name: Regina Borders Greenwell

Occupation: Senior Archivist at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum

How long have you worked at this library?

Thirty-seven years, since March 1976. Prior to coming to the library, I worked at NARA for an additional two years. I’ll have my 40th anniversary this December.

How/why did you decide to go into the archival field?

I’ve always had a love of history, and particularly presidential history. As a 13-year-old, I persuaded my parents to let me go downtown and see President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade when he came to Dallas on November 22, 1963. I saw him just minutes before the assassination.

I later majored in history at the University of Texas. When my husband got an engineering job in Washington, DC, after graduation, I learned that the Archives was gearing up for a new declassification effort headed up by Alan Thompson. I was lucky enough to get the job, and worked with some great collections covering Army intelligence. Later, I was detailed to work with the Watergate Special Prosecutor’s Office with Nixon … [ Read all ]

American Archives Month: Valoise Armstrong, Eisenhower Presidential Library

We continue with celebrating American Archives Month by showcasing some of our amazing archivists in the Presidential Libraries.

This post takes continues our journey through the heartlands of America: Abilene, KS.

Valoise Armstrong is an archivist at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum.

Valoise Armstrong is an archivist at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum.

Name: Valoise Armstrong

Occupation: Archivist at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum

How long have you worked at this library?

After working for five years at the National Archives at Seattle office, I transferred to the Eisenhower Library in July 2004.

How/why did you decide to go into the archival field?

I went to college many years after I graduated from high school and majored in my passion, which is history. I didn’t have any desire to teach, but being an archivist was a way I could immerse myself in history every day, so it was a very easy choice to focus on Archival Management in graduate school.

What are some of your responsibilities at your library?

I am responsible for three main areas in our archival operations: I am in charge of manuscript preservation activities; I maintain our oral history collection; and I oversee all of my library’s entries in the National Archives online description catalog. Among the duties shared by all the archivists at my library, I also answer reference questions, work with researchers in the research room, assist with … [ Read all ]

American Archives Month: Matthew Schaefer, Hoover Presidential Library

October is American Archives Month! Although we’re partway through October, there’s still time to celebrate the archivists from our Presidential Libraries. The series kicks off with a trip to the heartlands of America: West Branch, IA.

Matthew Schaefer, outreach archivist at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.

Matthew Schaefer, outreach archivist at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.

Name: Matthew Schaefer

Occupation: Outreach archivist for the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

How long have you worked at this library?
Eleven years.

How/why did you decide to go into the archival field?
While working on my dissertation, I took a “temporary” job in archives to pay the bills. My plan was to keep the archives gig until I earned my degree, then join the professoriate. After 25 years and three institutions, I am ready to acknowledge that I am an archivist.

What are some of your responsibilities at your library? What do you like best about your job?
The thing that I like best about my job is the variety of tasks that fall to me. This meshes well with my short little span of attention. My duties at the Hoover include organizing conferences, working with professional organizations, and keeping the library in the public eye. I also manage the reference room, do collection management tasks, and serve as lookout for zombies.

Tell us about a time something unusual or unexpected happened to you in your line of work.[ Read all ]

Edith Lee-Payne: Accidental civil rights icon

This post comes to us from summer intern Hannah Fenster.

Summer intern Hannah Fenster interviews Edith Lee-Payne. Lee-Payne visited the Archives ahead of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The iconic photograph of her as a 12-year-old girl, taken by photographer Rowland Scherman, is currently on display.

Summer intern Hannah Fenster interviews Edith Lee-Payne, who visited the Archives with her granddaughters ahead of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

When Edith Lee-Payne stepped into the lobby of the National Archives last week, she came from a morning full of press interviews and national monument visits.

But the whirlwind of her recent rise to fame slowed when she entered the Rotunda to view a photograph of her 12-year-old self. Her hand rested on her heart as she bent over the glass case containing the original image.

On August 28, 1963, Lee-Payne attended the March on Washington, where photographer Rowland Scherman snapped her picture without her knowledge. While Lee-Payne went on to face constant struggles against still-prevalent racial discrimination, her image lived a life of its own, growing into an iconic symbol of the historic day.

Discovering herself in the photograph this year has allowed Lee-Payne the opportunity to harmonize her actual life with her archived existence as a symbol of a national movement.

She feels like the photo—and her recent fame—has afforded her new responsibility. “It gives me an opportunity to share with others what Dr. King shared with this country,” she said.

Just as she became a picture for the March on Washington, Lee-Payne says, “The March in 1963 was a picture of … [ Read all ]