Internship Spotlight: Archives, History and Heritage Advanced Internship Program

The 2020 AHHA cohort visits the Manuscript Division for an orientation to the collections (l to r: Zephaniah Galloway, Cienna Benn, Victoria Bankole, Kenneth Campbell, and Patrick Kerwin, Manuscript Division reference librarian) on February 26, 2020. Photo by Kimberly Powell.

The 2020 AHHA cohort visits the Manuscript Division on Feb. 26, 2020 (pre-COVID), for an orientation to the collections (from left): Zephaniah Galloway, Cienna Benn, Victoria Bankole, Kenneth Campbell and Patrick Kerwin, reference librarian. Photo by Kimberly Powell.

One of the Library’s newest opportunities is the Archives, History and Heritage Advanced Internship Program, which we call AHHA for short. AHHA is a fitting acronym, as it sounds like an exclamation of discovery and wonder—exactly what we hope the interns will experience while working on collections and projects at the Library.

AHHA is part of the Library’s Of the People: Widening the Path initiative sponsored by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. With this four-year grant, we plan to recruit interns to work on collections and projects that will help the Library more fully represent the rich cultural heritage of the United States. Undergraduate juniors and seniors, masters and Ph.D. students are eligible for the program. Each 10-week session offers impactful project assignments, participation in the Professional Development Series of workshops, and invitations to the Library’s monthly Archives Forum events, as well as the chance to network with professional archivists and librarians.

We can trace the genesis of AHHA to a meeting in 2018 between Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, Howard University President Wayne A. Fredrick, and selected Library of Congress staff. At that meeting, they envisioned enhanced collaboration between the two institutions in order to share resources, cultivate new users, and create a greater awareness and use of Library of Congress resources and services by Howard faculty and students.

Following the initial meeting, the Library’s chief of internship and fellowships, Kimberly Powell, was tasked with proposing an internship program that would be piloted in 2019. She consulted with Sibyl Moses, the reference specialist and recommending officer for African American history and culture in the Library’s Researcher and Reference Services Division (RRS), and a number of Library managers to consider options and develop a framework for the program.  Following the consultation, the team designed and managed AHHA and collaborated closely with Library’s Special Collections Directorate, which provided projects and mentors for the interns. To complement the projects, the Library provided a full curriculum of enrichment and included a research orientation for the interns, offered by RRS, to enable them to navigate the Library’s vast resources in support their projects and research interests.  As the third component of the program, the Library of Congress offered, for three years, a day-long research orientation for new Howard University faculty participating in the University’s Summer Academy, where faculty participate in a research orientation, tour the special collections, are briefed on Library-wide fellowship opportunities for faculty and internships for students, and connect with library specialists in each faculty member’s discipline.

After the consultation, the team designed and managed AHHA and collaborated closely with our Special Collections Directorate, who served as hosts by providing projects and mentors for the interns. To complement the projects, the Library provided a full curriculum of enrichment, including a research orientation for the interns to help them navigate the Library’s vast resources in support of their projects and research interests. Generous donations by Craig and Diane Welburn—members of the Library’s philanthropic group, the James Madison Council—made it possible for the Library to pilot the nascent internship program in cooperation with Howard University.

In February 2019, the Library welcomed its first AHHA cohortJacquelyn Chin worked on the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation collection in our Music Division. Brittney Meadors worked on the Pete Welding Collection, as well as that of Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian, in the American Folklife Center. Keshad “Ife” Adeniyi worked on the papers of civil rights pioneer Ann Tanneyhill in our Manuscript Division.

The group of interns who began work in the spring of 2020 had to quickly pivot from a traditional, onsite internship to one that was fully remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the entire cohort opted to continue their internships, becoming the first virtual interns of AHHA. Victoria Bankole created a finding aid for Roland Freeman’s African American Expressive Culture in Philadelphia Project. Cienna Benn conducted an inventory on the Jessye Norman Collection. Zephaniah Galloway processed the papers of Roy Wilkins. Kenneth Campbell updated the online exhibit, “Voices from the Southern Civil Rights Movement,” part of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) collection.

Our Spring 2021 cohort began their fully remote internships in early February. Antonio Austin will work on the Gordon Parks photography collection. Brittany Jones will use the AAPB collection to show how public broadcasting covered African American cultural life. Lanai Huddleston will work on the newly acquired papers of the Dupree African American Pentecostal Church.

For the first time in the program’s short history, AHHA will offer a Fall internship session, which will run from September 13 to November 19, 2021. We will announce on this blog when the application period opens for the Fall session. Be sure to share this announcement with the prospective future archivist(s) in your life!

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