I am a third-generation Pittsburgher who grew up watching the Steelers every Sunday and leaving the Carnegie Library with an armload of books each week. I knew early on that I wanted to work with either public history or as a librarian, but it took until 2006 for me to really figure out what career path I should follow.
While attending Roanoke College, double-majoring in History and French, I had the opportunity to take a semester-long Archives Practicum with the college archivist, followed by a year of employment as a student assistant in the archives. With that experience, I was able to procure a summer internship at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum in Edgartown, Massachusetts. As the Library/Archives Intern at the MVM in 2006, I had the opportunity to process, arrange, describe, and document historic collections. I loved going to work every single day. Whether I was writing finding aids, helping researchers, or showing volunteers how to refolder items, I discovered that a career in archives would be perfect for me. The allure of unique items with evidential and information value drew me in — what if someone was searching for a single piece of information to complete their research and I happened to be able to help them? One patron at the MVM was so shocked to see her great-great-grandfather’s signature in an 18th-century whaling log book that she cried. I liked helping people find information. There was always something “cool” to discuss with coworkers or patrons. My supervisor advised me to apply to graduate programs in library science, but I knew I would have to put it off for a few years.
I spent four full years in Washington, D.C. as a research associate, steadily gaining experience in office work, management, client relations, and large-scale production of state educational assessment materials. In the meantime, I was accepted into the Archives, Preservation, and Records Management (APRM) track at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences, and I deferred my start date until the Fall of 2011. I then moved back to Pittsburgh from Maryland so I could embark upon one straight year of full-time graduate school.
My internship at the University of Pittsburgh’s Nationality Rooms Program gave me insight into how most archives must run: on limited resources with part-time staff. (I was surprised to find that while we had the ability to digitize photographs or audio cassettes, for example, since it wasn’t already accounted for in the budget, we would have to wait until the next quarter.) The staff at the Nationality Rooms Program gave me valuable insight to the collections which I was processing; I was lucky to use their institutional knowledge to help write my finding aids for future researchers. The diversity of the materials and information at the Nationality Rooms Program is stunning, and I helped them to develop the basis for their own Committee and Archival Resources webpage to promote their collections and give an insight into some of the heritage committees who made the Nationality Rooms possible.
I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences with my Master’s in Library and Information Science, specializing in Archives, Preservation, and Records Management. During that year, I learned archival theory on appraisal, representation, ethics, advocacy, digital curation, access, management, and preservation. I also opted to take electives on Museum Archives and Moving Image Archives.
After receiving my Master’s degree, I continued to work as an educational assessment Program Manager, while volunteering one afternoon per week at the National Archives and Records Administration’s Boeing Learning Center [part of the National Archives Experience] in Washington, D.C.
In February 2013, I was offered the Archivist position at The Strong‘s Brian Sutton-Smith Library & Archives of Play in Rochester, NY. The museum’s institutional archives, as well as materials from The Strong National Museum of Play and the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, are under my care. These materials include papers of prominent play scholars, childhood education specialists, toy inventors, game designers, authors, illustrators, and video game company records.