Week 5

After a month of pulling the Wilson and Segregation collection to pieces, I’m finally integrating the digital-only collection and paper-only collections by scanning the paper only collection and printing the digital-only collection. The goal is to have all the papers on Wilson and Segregation in a single collection in both digital and paper format.

Processing papers reminds me strangely of cleaning Grandpa’s basement: gape at the mess, pull everything out, bang your head against the wall wondering why Grandpa has this and what it is, try to group things, and put everything back.

This is a for-credit internship, and I needed to interview a professional working at WWPL for an assignment. I chose Karen Dodson, the chief administrative officer. When I interviewed her, she offered me a job as an interpreter! I had asked her for any advice she had for an early career museum professional, and she suggested I get experience working on the front lines to get to know audiences. “You could have the greatest program, but if you don’t know the people who are coming, you could be making it for nobody,” she said (Dodson, Sept. 26, 2017, personal communication). I had previously only thought of getting to know one’s audience through evaluation, so this was really a lightbulb moment for me. When I seemed serious about wanting to learn about audiences through interpretation, she told me that I could do paid interpretation work at the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace house next spring. 

Author: Althea Cupo

I’m Althea Cupo, a Museum Studies MA student at Johns Hopkins University, and I’m interning in the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum (WWPL)'s archives from August 29th through early November. My task for the semester is to create finding aids for the papers in "Woodrow Wilson and Segregation Box 1" and curate a digital exhibition based on the information in the box. I’m very excited because I eventually hope to start a museums consulting firm dedicated to equitably presenting controversial history and this is a chance to test out my personal theories.