By Chauna Carr, Grant Assistant
At the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, South Carolina Political Collections (SCPC) began their yearlong grant project with National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC). They were granted funding to rehouse and digitize William D. Workman’s entire photograph collection. The grant provided for an assistantship originally awarded to Mae Howe, a current graduate student at the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science. She carried the project through to the second stage where Chauna Carr, also a graduate student in UofSC’s SLIS program, picked it up and will see it through to the end. To read more about the launch of the project and the phases of reprocessing click here!
Chauna found her way to archiving through an undergraduate degree in History with minors in Classical Studies and Art History from Virginia Tech (VT). She knew she wanted to pursue archiving as well as library science from having worked at the VT main campus library throughout her entire undergraduate career (a total of five years). During that time, she also found herself volunteering at local institutions in town who needed help organizing their small collections. It was there she found her love of archiving. One could say it came from her deep-seated love for organization and bringing order to a chaotic space. The work at these small local institutions was just that. She was given the opportunity to reorganize entire libraries, update book databases, create inventories, rifle through boxes of old letters and closets full of costumes, and throughout that process learn about her hometown and neighboring areas and the past generations who lived there.
Upon finding great joy in archival processing (which she did not know she was doing until she came to UofSC), she began looking for masters programs that would give her not only the necessary education to become an archivist but also a varied enough background that she could venture into any arena in which an archivist could be found. Upon starting her degree, she quickly discovered that archiving crosses many fields. Corporate, political, medical, and commercial businesses all need an archivist in some capacity to handle their records, whether digital or otherwise. The name of the position may be different, but the job itself will still hold similar elements. Chauna initially looked at museum studies programs wanting to focus on archives in museums.
However, UofSC’s library science program appealed to her for its versatility. A student could essentially build their own program apart from the three required courses necessary to complete the degree. The university itself boasts an excellent history program as well as a museum management certificate both of which provide courses that she figured would make up an excellent and well-rounded masters program. Thus Chauna found herself applying to her father’s alma mater. A fact that initially dissuaded her from applying, since his specialty in libraries is more data analysis and computer science, which does not appeal to her at all (at least not the data analysis part).
She was accepted in 2016 and immediately began searching for a part-time job to gain more hands-on experience to complement her degree. That is how she landed at SCPC. She has been there going on two years and three months now. In that time she has learned so much from the wonderful staff that works there including archival processing and arrangement, metadata, digitization practices, working a reference desk, handling patron requests and more. This grant project has been a great opportunity to exercise all the skills she has learned from SCPC thus far.