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ARCHIVES  March 2006, Week 1

ARCHIVES March 2006, Week 1

Subject:

Re: How to interest young people in history...

From:

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Reply-To:

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Date:

Tue, 7 Mar 2006 10:11:41 -0500

Content-Type:

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Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (127 lines)

Hi, Emily!

That was an interesting message!  Of course I agree that people choose 
different subjects in which to specialize, have hobbies in, etc.  I 
mostly would be a listener rather than a participant in a conversation 
dealing with physics or chemistry.  Trust me on that one, LOL.

I hope you don't think that the many discussions about history on the 
Listserv are dismissive of people with other interests.  That's not the 
intent!  This Listserv mostly draws people who work in or want to work 
in archives.  Many people who work in archives find that they have a 
competitive advantage professionally if they have a solid grounding in 
history and current events.  I think archives is a field which draws a 
high number of people who naturally are interested in history.

Consider, for example, that as an archivist working with Presidential 
archival materials (Nixon's, Reagan's, etc.), you might screen records 
that refer to "hardhats," "refuseniks," etc.  It would be your job to 
understand what those terms meant historically.  After all, you might 
have to assess whether the records can be released to the public or 
whether they require restrictions.  Some archival work is "high risk" 
and you definitely want to get these things right.  (I'm interested to 
see what the current news stories about reclassification of government 
records reveal about the different levels of knowledge held by NARA 
archivists and the agency reviewers.  George Lardner's 2001 article and 
the Slate piece pointed to some differences, with archivists grumbling 
about the issue of historical context.)

As an archivist, you might also have to describe the records so that a 
broad span of users can use them.  Some users may be specialists in the 
Presidency (I worked with some former Nixon administration officials as 
well as scholars such as Stanley Kutler, Stephen Ambrose, etc.)  Others 
may be more casual researchers.  Whatever their level of knowledge, 
they would be depending on you to assess and describe the records 
properly.  In working with Nixon's tapes and documents, I found that it 
gave me a competitive advantage to have followed current events closely 
and to have read most of the scholarly books written about his 
Presidency.

Whether you work in archives or in another field, it also helps to 
understand some business and management concepts. That includes some 
familiarity with Myers Briggs typing (MBTI). I've found Myers Briggs 
useful in understanding that people process and use information 
differently.  Who knows where you may work during your career.  Some of 
your bosses may be Extroverts who are impatient with detail and prefer 
oral briefings and face to face contact.  Or don't want to read 
anything longer than one page executive summaries.  Others may be 
Introverts who like to immerse themselves in detail and like lengthy, 
carefully footnoted reports.  They may not want someone to filter too 
much knowledge for them.  (BTW, I hope your Oprah reference was a joke, 
;-)  An employee might even inadvertently torpedo his or her career by 
trying to force fit one way of handling information on a boss who wants 
something else.  I happen to be an Introvert but I know that my 
approach doesn't work well with everyone else.  So I adjust as needed.

Understanding how people process information also helps to understand 
researchers.  People who seem to pester reference archivists with 
constant telephone calls may be Extroverts who don't like to spend 
hours in a Library or in front of a computer.  If the reference 
archivist is an Introvert, it helps to understand how such a researcher 
approaches the process of gathering information.   The archivist might 
think to himself, "Why don't you go look it up," when the caller is 
wired according to his Myers Briggs type to pick up the phone and just 
ask around.

As for your comment about our having other work to do, it depends on 
the task at hand.  Sometimes we are immersed in research, writing, or 
helping others.  But sometimes we work on things such as scanning 
photos, burning CDs, etc.  That can leave ample time to peruse email 
and respond to the Archives List!

Take care,

Maarja



-----Original Message-----
From: Emily Brown <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent:         Mon, 6 Mar 2006 14:47:31 -0700
Subject: How to interest young people in history...

I know next-to-nothing about politics, current events, or history. My
parents know less than I do (thanks to my "worldly" husband). At the
dinner table, they focused on other subject matters (Physics and
Chemistry). Just because someone (or an entire generation of people)
doesn't know what you know, it doesn't mean he doesn't know anything.
I'd like to think that differences in interests make the world go
round.

Current events become history and history is waiting for me in
archives. If something is really important, Oprah will bring it to my
attention.

And, shouldn't we all be working?

E. Brown

A posting from the Archives & Archivists LISTSERV List sponsored by the 
Society
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A posting from the Archives & Archivists LISTSERV List sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, www.archivists.org.
For the terms of participation, please refer to http://www.archivists.org/listservs/arch_listserv_terms.asp.

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      In body of message:  SUB ARCHIVES firstname lastname
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Problems?  Send e-mail to Robert F Schmidt <[log in to unmask]>

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