Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Interning in the Outer Banks

Billowing white sand dunes, salty sea breezes, and Elizabethan history lurking at every corner – welcome to Manteo, NC in the Outer Banks! Today marks my second full week interning at the Outer Banks History Center (OBHC) on Roanoke Island after I spent my first week virtually due to an outbreak of COVID in the guesthouse I am staying in. A satellite archive in the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the OBHC collects materials about the history of the region – often maritime in nature – ranging from oral histories about life on isolated Ocracoke to extensive photo archives of the generations of beach goers in this late-blooming tourist destination. While Manteo, the town I’m working in, touts itself as the “birthplace of English-speaking America” and as the birthplace of the first English baby born on American soil – Virginia Dare – the collection I’m processing is decidedly more modern. It was donated by a prominent local who served two tenures as mayor, led on a variety of boards and commissions, spearheaded environmental and historical conservation projects, and managed a thriving architectural firm. 

This is my first experience processing a collection, and I am coming to understand that processing a collection is recursive in nature, with organizing, re-organizing, and re-re-organizing the organizational scheme that I think will best fit the collection as each new box challenges what I thought I knew. Fortunately, the staff of three at the OBHC have reassured me that this is the natural process! 

In addition to learning archival processing skills, I am learning so much about small town and tourist-focused governance, the geography of the Outer Banks, and the reasons for why Manteo looks the way it does today. As an architect, the collection’s namesake designed many of the buildings in town, and I love every time I open a new box and discover sketches hidden inside. They truly are small works of art! 

I still have seven more weeks to go and many more boxes to unpack, but my introduction to life in the Outer Banks and the foundational work of archivists has left me eager to soak up as much experience as I can throughout this internship!