Jerret Barker is an intern at The David Owsley Museum of Art and The Ball State Archives for the Spring 2022 semester. After discovering his passion for stories and the history behind them, Barker aims to use the skills he learned through internships to further his knowledge of artifacts and historical memorabilia. As a country music fan, Barker hopes to follow his passion to Nashville, Tennessee where he can work with some of country music’s most famous archives.
Note: This interview was published by Kaitlyn Herrenbruck.
How did you decide to pursue a degree in Public History?
I’ve always been a fan of stories. Documentaries, Mark Twain books, and ballads from the British Isles all captured my attention. Studs Terkel’s oral histories about working odd jobs or living during the depression opened my eyes about the malleability of historical events and the freshness and vividity in which they could be presented. Public history not only allows me to research and handle artifacts, but also interact with people who have interesting stories of their own.
Why were you interested in these two internships?
I’ve been going to DOMA for years. I’ve spent hours wandering around and looking at the wonderful paintings, sculptures, and artifacts and I’m fascinated by the local history that comprises a large portion of Ball State’s archives. I’ve lived around Muncie for most of my life, and I have a deep appreciation for the community. I feel lucky to be able to intern at two well-known local institutions.
What’s it like participating in this dual internship? Do they complement each other?
I love it. I am able to gain experience in two distinct public history careers. I’m not really sure what I want to do once I graduate, whether that be museums or archives, but the opportunity to work in both settings allows me to gain experience in both. One day I could be designing a scavenger hunt in the museum and the next be processing a collection featuring documents about a local record label and cassette tapes that were recorded in Muncie. I think these two internships do complement each other, as archival techniques can easily be applied to museum work and vice versa. My experience in Education could possibly lead to the creation of interesting content from the Archive material.
How do you think these internships will prepare you for your future career goals?
In the future, I’d like to work at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m a big classic country music fan.. I was raised on George Jones, Buck Owens, and Loretta Lynn. I would love to design educational content at the museum and work with their extensive collection of memorabilia. I believe working at DOMA is giving me the experience and skills that would make my goal a reality. In addition, the Country Music Hall of Fame also has a large archive of documents, manuscripts, and rare audio recordings.
What leaves you feeling most accomplished about your internship?
I feel most accomplished knowing that I’m actually making a difference. Thankfully, my internship doesn’t involve getting coffee and making copies for my bosses. In the Archives, I am processing collections and updating their database, which also advances the opportunities for the researching public. At DOMA, I am using my public history and reading and writing skills to help create additional content for the upcoming Larry Day exhibit as well as organizing and documenting the large collection of Greek and Roman coins in storage. Rather than read and study in a classroom, I am able to train and work in the field, which will yield tangible results.
What do you recommend for future public history students searching for an internship?
I’d recommend applying for various internships before you must complete one for the public history program. Not only will it make their resumes more attractive, but it will also give them more and varied experience in the field. Additionally, it can help them determine which branch of public history they are most interested in, whether that be historic preservation, archives, or museums.
For more information, visit the College of Science and Humanities website.