Preservation & Access in the Lee Family Digital Archive

This post is part of a series featuring behind-the-scenes dispatches from our Pohanka Interns on the front lines of history this summer as interpreters, archivists, and preservationists. See here for the introduction to the series.

By Caitlin Connelly ‘17

In her article “What Is the Meaning of Archives 2.0?,” Kate Theimer discusses the series of changes in beliefs about archival practices which she refers to collectively as “Archives 2.0.” The hallmarks of Archives 2.0 are increasing emphases on flexibility, openness, and collaboration that are meant to meet the needs of modern users, rather than those of users decades in the past. Theimer argues that technology – such as computers, specific software, and social media – has helped to facilitate these changes, but is not the cause of them. Modern archivists now tend to see more value in profession-wide standards of practice and in keeping records of their own work to aid other archivists, now or in the future, though they view their collections as no less unique than in the past. The shift from Archives 1.0 to Archives 2.0 can be characterized by the increasing use of technology to assist in archival work, such as recording and measuring, and in the effort to reach out to and work with users. Theimer describes Archives 1.0 like an opaque bubble where archivists worked isolated from each other and with the preservation of their collections as their sole concern, with a far lesser emphasis on researchers. Archives 2.0, on the other hand, is described as primarily user-centric, with archivists now more concerned with providing a service than just acting as guardians of the collections. The majority of the changes from Archives 1.0 to Archives 2.0 have come about because of this shift of focus. Continue reading “Preservation & Access in the Lee Family Digital Archive”

Archives 2.0: Defying the Stereotypes

By Mikki Stacey ‘17

This post is part of a series featuring behind-the-scenes dispatches from our Pohanka interns working on the front lines of history this summer as interpreters, archivists, and preservationists. See here for the introduction to the series.

Everyone had a picture in mind when I said I’d be doing archival work for the DuPont library at Stratford Hall over the summer. Often, that picture included me amid stacks of dusty books and old documents, sitting in silence and solitude, frantically typing away with my glasses glued to the top of my nose. Each time I got a reaction to this effect, I had to laugh and ask, “Relying a little heavily on a stereotype, aren’t you?” Quickly, I would go into my spiel about why libraries are not at all antiquated, not realizing that there is a term for what I was trying to explain: “Archives 2.0.”

Mikki Stacey defies stereotypes of archival work in her Pohanka internship at Stratford Hall: The Home of the Lees. Photo credit Mikki Stacey.
Mikki Stacey defies stereotypes of archival work in her Pohanka internship at Stratford Hall: The Home of the Lees. Photo credit Mikki Stacey.

Partially out of necessity and partially out of nature, libraries and librarians have evolved, and currently, we are in the period of Archives 2.0, which Kate Theimer distinguishes from other periods of archival work by its “spirit of flexibility and the willingness to experiment and collaborate.” a spirit that has brought interrelated changes to the field. More than gathering information, modern archivists want to disseminate information. This desire has resulted in an (maybe unexpected) embrace of technology to create a more user-friendly experience. Continue reading “Archives 2.0: Defying the Stereotypes”

History Alumni Lecture: Historic Homes and Audience

By Megan McNish ’16

"Panoramic image made from five photos taken Aug 2007 at Stratford Hall Plantation and merged together with AutoStitch," original uploader MamaGeek. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:StratfordHallPlantationPano.jpg
“Panoramic image made from five photos taken Aug 2007 at Stratford Hall Plantation and merged together with AutoStitch,” original uploader MamaGeek.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:StratfordHallPlantationPano.jpg

On the evening of October 8 in Gettysburg College’s Joseph Theater, Paul Reber ’82 spoke on the historic house museum. Reber presented for the History Department’s annual Alumni Lecture, despite the fact that when he was at Gettysburg College, he was a Political Science major. As Dr. Shannon, chair of the History Department, said, Reber eventually saw the light. Reber spent the majority of his talk speaking on various historic house museums he has had experience with, including Mount Vernon, the White House, and Stratford Hall, where he is the current director. Stratford was the home of the Lee Family on the Northern Neck in Virginia and is one of the sites of the Civil War Institute’s Brian C. Pohanka Internship Program. Stratford has a particularly interesting history. When it was taken into the hands of the historic preservation community in the 1930s, the home closely resembled what it had been like when Robert E. Lee was born there. During this period, however, the structure was restored to its Colonial appearance. Reber and his staff are attempting to restore various rooms in the home to their appearance based on various periods of the Lee family ownership.

Continue reading “History Alumni Lecture: Historic Homes and Audience”

Pohanka Reflection: Stratford Hall Plantation

By Abby Rolland ‘15

This post is part of a series on the experiences of our Pohanka Interns at various historic sites working on the front lines of history as interpreters and curators. Dr. Jill Titus explains the questions our students are engaging with here. 

Reflecting on my time so far at Stratford Hall Plantation, I have realized that objects, and not just guides, offer interpretation to visitors. Yes, the docents have a wealth of knowledge about the house, but they cannot reveal every single piece of information about the rooms in the Great House. In order to fully understand the comings and goings of the Lee family, the placement of the objects must tell part of the tale.

Rolland 2

Continue reading “Pohanka Reflection: Stratford Hall Plantation”