Student Interns in the Archives

This spring, Loyola juniors and history majors Christopher Linfante and Joseph Seminara are interning in Archives and Special Collections. We recently checked in with them to find out how their internship experience has been so far! 

What projects have you worked on so far this semester in the archives? 

Christopher: The biggest project that I worked on this semester was centered around Father John J. Griffin, a chemistry professor that taught at Notre Dame of Maryland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The main task was to process a collection of his personal papers. After that, Joseph and I built an online exhibit on Father Griffin’s life to accompany the collection. It was really fun to learn about Father Griffin, and it feels like we are experts on his life after spending half a semester with him!  

Joseph: I began with creating an exhibit within the archives for the late Father John J. Griffin of Notre Dame. Later, Christopher and I worked on organizing and processing some of the first student records of Loyola students going back to 1852.  

What has been your favorite part of the internship? 

Christopher: Interning at the archives has been an amazing opportunity and it is difficult to pin just one aspect of it as my favorite. If I had to choose, however, I would say the freedom to examine the documents that I have been working with this semester. While most people might see these old documents as boring, a brief inspection proves that they are anything but!  

Joseph: My favorite part of the internship has been making a physical exhibit of Father Griffin. This project allowed me to create a story of someone I never knew about prior to this experience and be creative with how others should see his life.  

Many students haven’t yet had the opportunity to use archival collections in their research. Had you ever worked with archives before? What was new about this experience? 

Christopher: Despite being a history major who has done a fair amount of research throughout my time at Loyola, I never had the privilege to work in an archive before. One of the most surprising aspects of archival work has been its accessibility. I had a preconception that archives were closed-off areas for specific researchers only, who needed to follow strict protocol and be heavily supervised while researching. While there are rules to follow in the archives, of course, I’ve found it to be a much more inviting place than I originally anticipated. Ms. Kinniff has encouraged us to investigate what interests us and to make new discoveries. Working with these primary resources and making new discoveries without a preset research plan is a new and very enjoyable approach for me. 

Joseph: I have never worked in archives before this. What was great about this experience was that I was able to explore documents that are over a century old and understand how to preserve them for other people to experience. I had the opportunity to look at documents that many people have not seen before and be able to tell their story and the significance they have today and why these pieces are important to keep.  

I would recommend an Archives internship for students who… 

Christopher: The archives internship is great for students who have a passion for history and want to put their research skills to work. It’s a great experience and it shows you how history skills can be used in the real world. Managing records, whether in archives or anywhere else, is an essential task. This internship both provides the student with an understanding of how to manage these records with an eye toward future use while allowing them to engage with history in a way that most people never do! 

Joseph: I would recommend an archives internship for students who are interested in history, who are creative, and not afraid of exploring old documents. This was not only about looking through documents, but also helping understand why something so dated is still important to keep today. Being able to help say why something is important and necessary to keep is a skill that is needed in the archives.