Claire Enk is a senior Public History major, a German minor, and a proud member of the Honors College. In the spring of her freshman year, Claire and Sophia Hoffert created a podcast and a StoryMaps entitled “Prostitution and Social Reform in Muncie from 1870-1910,” which won the Student History Conference Outstanding Creative Project Award at the 2020 conference. Claire and Sophia also presented this project virtually at both the Mid-East Honors Association 2020 Conference and the National Collegiate Honors Council 2020 Conference. For the 2020-2021 academic year, she is the Curation Project Manager for Compass Creative, where she practices her marketing and writing skills on top of her historical skills.
During the 2021 spring semester, Claire is interning at Ball State University’s Archives and Special Collections. Under the direction of Sarah Allison, Claire is working on several projects for the Archives, including archival research on the Multicultural Center for an Omeka digital exhibit, processing a collection addition, and writing a blog post and social media posts.
How did you decide you wanted to pursue a degree in Public History?
Coming into college, I had some AP history credits, so I knew that I wanted to take some history courses to at least work towards a minor. Soon after signing up for my first history course, I learned about the Public History concentration, which is only offered as a major. After researching what Public History is, I decided to sign up for the major because I have always been interested in working in a museum.
Public History is neat because there are so many fields that you can pursue with the degree, from archives to historic preservation to historical film work to museums. Since teaching was not my goal, I thought that a Public History degree would provide me with a good foundation for the historical working world.
Why were you interested in this specific internship?
In high school, I worked at my local library and absolutely loved it. It is a goal of mine to earn my master’s degree in Library
Sciences, which is a degree that can be used in the archival field. When looking for possible internships, I was emailing archives in libraries because I thought that it would be a perfect fit.
One of the institutions that I emailed was the Archives here on campus because I was familiar with it from a few of my history courses. The Archives and Special Collections here on campus ended up being the best fit! I am happy that I was able to stay on campus to finish out my senior year, see the inner workings of the Archives, and experience library work in a new way.
What does a typical day at your internship look like?
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I am working onsite at the Archives. I do all sorts of tasks, from processing collections to conducting research. While I’m onsite, I typically use archival materials to do research on the Multicultural Center for a digital exhibit. On Tuesday and Thursday, I am working offsite, so everything I do is virtual.
The Digital Media Repository (DMR) has over 1 million items that are scanned or uploaded from the Archives and can be accessed from anywhere, so I spend time researching there. I also create one social media post per week by finding interesting/timely photographs on the DMR. Just looking through all of the fascinating photographs and learning so much about the university’s history is so much fun!
What are the most valuable skills you have gained from your internship?
I have definitely expanded my skill set in many ways. I have gained lots of hard skills, such as learning how to use ArchivesSpace to create digital finding aids and picking up on all the archival jargon. I have also improved some of the historical skills that I have learned in my classes, such as sharpening my research and writing skills.
I have been researching the history of the Multicultural Center because the Archives is going to create a digital exhibit to celebrate the Multicultural Center’s move to the heart of campus, right next to the library. Initially, it was daunting to research the history of an organization that has been around since the late 1960s. As patterns started appearing, I was able to create a story for the digital exhibit and I proved to myself that I am capable of researching an organization.
What is the most fulfilling part of your internship?
One of the projects that I worked on for the Archives was processing the addition to a collection. I spent about seven weeks processing the addition, working through five different steps. It was amazing to watch the addition be slowly added to the Archives and to see the progress of my work. I was even credited for my processing work on the finding aid for the collection! Seeing my name on the finding aid was such a special moment, and I am glad that I was able to make a physical contribution to the Archives during my time here.