Meet the Archivist: Mary Margaret

March 5, 2015

One of our goals on this blog is to pull back the curtain on the work we do in the University Archives. A lot of people wonder what an archivist does, so we thought we’d introduce ourselves and explain why we love our jobs! 

How long have you worked in the Norwich University Archives and what is your role? I came to Norwich in June of 2013 and have been in the role of Outreach Archivist for the last nine months. In addition to running this blog, this means that I handle all our events and marketing, as well as coordinating with people and campus offices who want to use our archival resources for major projects. Basically, I do everything I can to get the word out about how great the Archives is!

Why are you an archivist? I love helping people understand how real and relevant history is—that it’s not just an abstract idea, but it’s made up of photographs, letters, diaries, scrapbooks, and documents that you can touch, read, and use to understand people’s personal experiences.

What is the best part of your job? Watching someone uncover a major revelation during their research—that “aha moment” is pure joy for anyone who works with students, as we do so often. Any time I can tell someone’s really excited about history, I’m a happy camper.

What is your favorite part of the University Archives collections? We get this question a lot! I love it when I come across unusual  documents that illuminate the personal side of an historical event or time period. For example, when preparing for an exhibit last year, I fell in love with a letter that one of our alums, John Finn, wrote home during World War II describing how he felt sympathy for the German children he was meeting overseas, and struggled with the strict policy against interacting with them. I also adore this photo of Gus Nelson, class of 1924, wearing a big grin while overseas on Armistice Day, 1918:

World War One soldier eating on a log

Click to enlarge

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