Friday, April 23, 2010

100 Days of DC

100 Days. That’s 2,400 hours, 56 cold lunches, 3 snowstorms, and 112 trips on the Metro, just to get to work! These 100 days have just flown by as I reflect back on my final night in Washington DC. I have learned so much out here; about history, about working in the real world, about myself. I hope that you have shared my adventure with me through this blog, because has it ever been an adventure!

Wednesday was our final field trip as a group, and our last time together as one large group. We went to lunch at Whitlow’s which is a local burger place with really good Oreo shakes! I remember Dr. Joyner saying back in January that by the time we get to Whitlow’s we should know everyone in the group, and I can proudly say that I do. Wednesday was also my final class for the semester, which is always a nice accomplishment to reach! Sadly the rest of my free time these past few days have been spent cleaning and packing, so that actually took up most of my time on Wednesday.

Thursday was my last day in the lab at the Archives. We had one of the best student groups in on a double lab, which actually made it not seem like a double lab. It was bittersweet to see the last of these student groups, as they have been one of my favorite parts about my internship. To see a group of students take historical documents, which many think are boring, and turn them into a meaningful project in under two hours is something of a miracle, and I have been blessed to be a part of that. I started saying goodbye to some of my coworkers on Thursday as well, as they will be elsewhere on Friday.

Today was honestly a strange day at the Archives. I couldn’t help but think that it was my last time doing this, or my last time running to find that. We had an ice cream social again for all the volunteers at Archives I since its National Volunteer Appreciate Week, which made it the finale to my time out here. I spent the rest of the day tying up loose ends and saying my farewells to everyone, which was sad. I have the greatest coworkers out here; I feel like we have become a little family out here! Like I said earlier, I would not trade this experience for anything, and although not everything was easy or happy, it taught me something or at least gave me a different perspective on life. Tomorrow I go back to Minnesota, where I know I have a lot of friends and family welcoming me back home, but I know that I will leave a little bit of myself here in DC, amongst the miles and miles of stacks, with those I have worked with in the past 100 days, or in the knowledge that I gave to a child during my time out here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Baseball, Potluck, and Records

Well I started out my weekend on a good note in Old Town Alexandria, and I finished off my weekend at the Nationals baseball game. They have such a nice ballfield, and it is so nice to have baseball outside where it should be! It did make me think of how great Twins baseball is going to be this summer at Target Field. Even though the Nationals lost, it was still a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. One of my friends that I went with is from Milwaukee, and they were playing the Nationals, so she was happy her hometown team won!

After being at my internship for 14 weeks, I have figured out that Mondays are quiet days at the Archives. I spent most of my time up in the Resource Room, since no one else was around. I met some really interesting people while I was up there, and was able to locate some D-Day records for a student, find military records for a veteran, and census records for a family looking for ancestors. These are the stories that make my day so meaningful and make my job one of the best! I hope that as I leave the National Archives that I will be able to continue to make these kinds of impacts on people and help them navigate through the millions of records available to them.

Today was my last day at Archives II. I did not get a chance to work on any preservation work today because we were celebrating National Volunteer Appreciation Week by throwing a potluck and ice cream social. It just happened to match up with my last day out there, which was kind of a nice way to end my time there. I am SO appreciative for all those who work out at A II who were able to teach me things and help me in my internship and I am sorry that I will be missing out on more of their teaching. Not having an hour and fifteen minute commute one way though will be nice....

Tonight was also my last class on the Supreme Court. I came into this course knowing very little about the set up of the court or the American judicial system and in general, and I have gained so much knowledge about the history and controversy behind the system and it's cases this past semester. For anyone who is thinking about coming out to DC for a semester, please let me know! I'll make sure that you don't get too lost or confused if you come out here.

Archives II
National Basilica, which I drive past each week on the way to Archives II

Anna, Robin, and I at the game

They have such a sweet scoreboard!
Gomez at the plate!!
National Field- outside like baseball should be

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Last Weekend!

I am wrapping up my last weekend in DC. Just like most people would, I am trying to fit in as much sight seeing as possible. This also means that I am cramming in projects to finish at work; it is going to be a fast finish!

Thursday at work was full of special groups coming in and out of the Education area. We started the morning with a group of new archivists, who were so excited to see the education space. The next group to filter in was a group of teachers who came to do a mini version of the Constitution in Action lab, and learn about more resources they could use back in their classrooms. We were pressed for time to begin with, but it became just a furried mess when the group showed up 20 minutes late! We made it through the lab, but it was a hurried one! They were very grateful though for the amount of flexibility we had, and enjoyed the lab. Our third and final special group for the day was a Treasure Vault tour!! Charlie needed a few interns to help show documents to a group of high schoolers, and I jumped at the chance! I got to hold and see up close an original (yes THE REAL THING!!) letter written by Thomas Jefferson to Congress about the Lewis and Clark expedition. I also got to show the original political cartoon that marked President Theodore Roosevelt with the teddy bear icon, and the only remaining copy of Mad Magazine comic book, Issue #1. It was just a great afternoon!

Friday was a double lab day. One lab is enough to keep you occupied for the day, so to have two makes for a busy day! We had close to 50 7th graders come through that day, and they really enjoyed learning in this sense. One commented that this was cooler than just being back in school. I'm sure the gloves, magnify glasses, and lab coats don't help in that aspect at all.

Saturday I spent my day down by the Potomac River in Old Town Alexandria. Unlike Washington DC, which grew up following the Civil War, Alexandria, VA was built up in the mid 18th century and was a pivotal town during the American Revolution and Civil War. Today the town has been preserved in its 18th century splendor, with lots of row houses and really unique shops and restaurants. It was a beautiful day to be out wandering and I came across some really neat stores. I also sat down by the riverside and read my book, which was one of the most peaceful things I have done yet. I have attached some pictures from my time down in Alexandria below. Today is my final tourist day in DC, so I will be spending it watching America's pastime: baseball. The Nationals are playing the Milwaukee Brewers, and they won yesterday, so I'm hoping that they will do the same. :)

George Washington Masonic Memorial
Looking out into the river
Christ Church- Both Washington and Robert E Lee attended church and had pews here
Sailors Row
One of the most picturesque places in Alexandria
A few ferry's in the harbor
Alexandria town hall filled with an early morning farmers market

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Two weeks to go! Things are strangely seeming to slow down, which is completely different than what I am used to. Normally, during this time of the spring college students are frantically trying to finish all of their course work, but this spring has been smooth sailing... so far

Monday was a really quiet day at work; President Obama scheduled a Nuclear Summit conference in DC the past two days, so a lot of people worked from home the beginning of this week. This meant that I was scrambling around picking up all the little loose ends in the office! No matter though, it kept me very busy, and is one of the many things all interns get to do at some point! I started on making a database on some of the video conference documents used by the Education staff. I will be no means complete this in the next week and a half, but at least it's a start for the next person to come along and finish. This is also the last week that some of the education staff will be around, so it seems like I am saying goodbye already.

This was the case on Tuesday out at Archives II, as it was my last "normal" day out there. I worked on preservation projects all day, both in the stacks and back in the preservation room. Amongst all of the WWI records I came across a letter sent overseas in the Argonne region of France explaining the new technology of Daylight Savings Time! It was comical to read how strange and serious they were about it! I also had a a file on baseball equipment in the camps in France. There was one company who was so generous as to donate baseball equipment to the troops for their free time and enjoyment while overseas. I can only think that this was a small comfort to those who were fighting so far from home. I also found some interesting documents back in the stacks. It was my last day back amongst all the boxes, which was a little sad. I did come across some interesting Soviet and Cold War records from Bulgaria...

Today's field trip after class was a choice- I decided to go to the National Zoo. It was so nice out to go to the zoo (both the warm weather and small crowd) and many of the animals were out. Sadly, my camera's battery died part way through, so I was not able to get many pictures. They have a wonderful panda exhibit, but only one of their pandas was out, as they other one is currently on pregnancy bedrest. I also watched an octopus each lunch, which was one of the strangest things I have ever seen! I have added the few pictures that I was able to get below. The rest of the week is going to be crazy with 3 labs in 2 days, but I guess that's what happens when you try to cram a bunch in in a short amount of time.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


I am counting down the days until I return back to Minnesota. (13 left!) With this countdown comes lots of lists: to do lists, packing lists, grocery lists, summer reading lists. My list of things to get done at work in the next two weeks is slowly shrinking, which I am a little sad about. I am going to miss the life of an intern, and even more working at the National Archives.

I am in the final steps of completing my Civil War project! All of the pages have been organized, printed, indexed, researched, and put in binders. There are three binders too!! (We were only expecting one, so this has been a HUGE project!) All that is left now is printing off all the introduction pages, and then it's off to the Resource Room for the public to use! Hopefully I will be able to get into the exhibit and at least see part of it before I leave, seeing as I have been working with these documents for so long now.

Friday I was at Archives II, where I learned that we finally got through all of the Brazilian consulate records back in the stacks! Cassie and I have been working on these since January, so it's nice to move to a different part of the world. Currently, we are going through the British West Indies (Antigua and Barbados) consulate records. So far there hasn't been anything too interesting, but I am sure there is some pirate map or hidden treasure in there somewhere! I also went back into the stacks for some presidential assassination research. I spent the afternoon going through the Lynette Fromme files from her attempted assassination on Gerald Ford. She was a member of the Charles Manson clan, so there were some creepy things in that file! I found some good court case papers though, which will be used for a video conference lessons.

Normally I don't work on Saturdays, but this week I did. There were people everywhere, just like last weekend! I was in the Resource Room the whole day, so I spent most of my time showing people ARC and the Declaration. There was the annual Cherry Blossom Parade right outside the Archives this morning, so people flocked into the museum once that was finished. In the meantime though, I sat by the huge window and watched it. There was also a large block party/fair on the other side of the building, which made getting home a bit difficult. The people who came into the RR today too were all about family roots for some reason! I feel like I should wear a sign around my neck that says " This is not a research/ geneology center. This is a Resource Room". O well, I have gotten really really good at using Ancestry, Heritage Quest, and Footnote. So, if anyone needs a hand with genealogical research, I'm your girl!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Seasons of...

It's a little crazy that I have only been here for 12 weeks, and I have seen all four season in Washington DC. This week has been summer, with temperatures reaching into the 90's. I feel like I should be in a band uniform marching somewhere!!

Monday was pretty quiet day in comparison to last week at the Archives. I am getting into the final steps of my Civil War notebook, which is exciting! I thought I wouldn't get it all done, but it looks like it will be. The tourist levels were fairly low too, which was nice, since it's much easier to help people when they're aren't as many of them.

Tuesday I spent the day in downtown DC rather than the University of Maryland, as the department took the interns out for lunch! We went to Matchbox, which has some of the best pizza around. After lunch, we were sent on the mission of all missions for interns: getting donuts. :) I guess it had to happen at some point!

Wednesday was full of field trips! Our last class for Art was at the Phillips Collection, where we had a discussion on Washington modern art. Then we had a briefing with the NCIS as an introduction to the Spy Museum, which was our next stop. There are some crazy things that go on in the US intelligence agencies around here- like DC has the highest capita of spies in the world...I'll have to remember that the next time I'm at the grocery store.

The Spy Museum was great! The only bad thing was the heat and humidity that seeped into the museum making everyone sticky and warm. The exhibits had a bunch of gadgets from James Bond, as well as actually spy materials used during World War II and the Cold War. They had stations throughout the exhibit to see if you could handle being a spy- I didn't pass the test though. O well, I always seem to be the last person to figure out when people are planning something without me, so being a Bond girl (or a spy) is not for me.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier- Arlington
White House- all set up for the Easter Egg Roll
Mom and Dad looking at all the Cherry Blossoms
Lincoln's booth at Ford's Theater
Michelle Obama's inauguration gown at the Smithsonian
Cherry Blossoms! :)
Jefferson Memorial with Cherry Blossoms- and thousands of people

Whew! Those have been the four busiest days since I got here! My family came out to visit me over their Easter vacation, and we have been (and probably walked) all over the city. Let me back up a bit...

Thursday I was in work way too early in the morning, so I would have a chance to join my family when they got here in the afternoon. They got here by the afternoon, just in time for a huge tour of the Archives. After explaining to them over the phone for the past three months, it was nice to be able to show them what I was doing (and exactly what an archivist is). All of my family are history buffs, so it was nice to show them everything I have found; it was so great to seem them excited about what I do. After that we took the large monument loop and headed back downtown for dinner.

The next day we spent around the Capitol grounds. Since it was Easter vacation, the height of the Cherry Blossom season, and it was 80 degrees out, everyone was out and about in DC. We caught two of the three branches of government, and then finished off with the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. My brother was hard to drag out of there!!

Saturday we went to a bunch of museums, and down to the Tidal Basin for all the Cherry Blossoms. It was part of the peak time, so there were people everywhere. It was worth going to see them at that time though, they were georgeous. I have added some pictures of the blossoms, so you can get a little glimpse of them. Since this was the peak weekend, the Cherry Blossom festival had it's annual fireworks show on Saturday night. They were fantastic out on the riverfront, especially with a little bit of seafood mixed in with it!

Today were finished up the grand tour of DC with a stop at the White House Visitors Center and Ford's Theater. It rounded out the three branches that we started with on Friday. We also walked down to Arlington Cemetary in the what turned out to be hot weather! We had a Mexican themed Easter Sunday dinner, which was a little strange, but very tasty! Then it was time to say goodbye to my family, as they have to get back to Minnesota for work and school tomorrow.

Only a couple weeks until I return home to MN. There are still a few things that I want to do before I leave, and a pile of work and homework to finish, but this is what college students do best; pushing through to the end.