Meet the Staff Feature: Local Records Research Intern

For the Record’s “Meet the Staff” feature is an opportunity for our archivists to connect directly with the community which we serve.

Name: Elissa True Lisle

Title: Summer 2021 Local Records Research Intern

Home Institution: University of Alabama

Major: Master of Arts in History with a certification in Museum Studies 

What are you working on day-to-day during this internship?

I am analyzing and summarizing correspondence and documentation between the ADAH and local government and historical institutions in Alabama. This documentation includes letters, emails, faxes, even scraps of handwritten notes. I use this information to create a timeline of sorts which details the ADAH’s relationship with local entities in each of Alabama’s 67 counties. My synopses will be used as a “history” for ADAH employees to research local record initiatives. I am very grateful to have a remote position where I can work from home in Tuscaloosa.

What is the most fun part of this internship? What is the most challenging part?

The most fun part of this internship is getting to read correspondence on unexpected topics. The most challenging part is definitely sifting through the emails, sometimes hundreds, for a single local record initiative. The correspondence is often not chronologically ordered, and bouncing back and forth between days, months, and years sometimes makes it difficult to understand the scope and progression of a project. It’s a lot like putting together the pieces of a puzzle.

What surprised you the most about the records you were reviewing?

I was not necessarily surprised that smaller, sometimes rural, cities and counties lacked a cohesive record preservation plan, but I was surprised at how difficult it is to implement proper record storage and preservation techniques. This internship has definitely taught me the importance of local government, because officials can make or break a historical or genealogical project.

What has this internship taught you about the archival profession?

How expansive it is! There are so many career paths available for people who are interested in archival or museum work. People often think that the only careers available are to be an archivist or a curator, but analyzing these records has taught me that there are a lot of moving pieces. I’m reading correspondence from genealogists, consultants, conservators, administrators, professors, and government employees from every department. As a history major, I am often asked what I plan to “do” with my degree, and this internship has taught me that there are positions – and funding – out there. 

What’s in store for you in school and in your profession over the next several years?

I plan to graduate from UA in the Spring of 2022 with an M. A. in History and a certification in Museum Studies. My Seminar paper, which I am currently writing, discusses the desegregation of Montgomery’s Blue-Gray All-Star Football Classic in 1965. I love sports and would like to incorporate this into a career in public history, but I have yet to decide how to make those two worlds mesh!

What are your hobbies outside of school and work?

I enjoy kayaking and hiking, so it’s been nice living in Alabama and being close to some lakes and hiking trails. I was born and raised in Florida, and I try to make it to the beach when I have time. I also run an online shop where I sell antiques and vintage items. Once I move somewhere more permanent, I hope to open a booth in an antique mall.

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