For the Record’s “Meet the Staff” feature is an opportunity for our archivists to connect directly with the community which we serve.
Name: Gabriella Galarza
Title: Records Management/Appraisal Student Worker
Home Institution: Auburn University
Major: Bachelor of Arts in History, Minoring in Leadership
What are you working on day-to-day for this project?
For this project, I am indexing digitized local government records from Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.com, and the Alabama Department of Archives and History’s collections to inventory these records. In time, this information will complement a bigger project aimed at increasing access to permanent records produced by local governments in Alabama.
What is the most enjoyable part of this project? What is the most challenging part?
One of the most enjoyable aspects of this project is seeing so much history from local people–I’ve even recognized the last names of old families in my hometown. I am reviewing documents dating from 1700 to 1999 and am impressed at how each county has a plethora of information from land deeds, court records, and letters. My favorite category so far is estate records. A challenging part of this job is reading the handwriting on old documents. They almost always wrote in cursive!
What surprised you the most about the records you were reviewing?
When reviewing the records, I saw some that were titled Confessions and Judgements for cases that had confessions from different people and the verdict of each case. The amount of information recorded for each individual surprised me. For instance, one person had up to 17 folders of documented information. I also encountered older money, including two-dollar bills, which I feel are rare nowadays.
What has this position taught you about the archival profession, records management, or local history?
There is so much to learn and always more work to be completed at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. As a student worker, I have learned so much about records management and how to preserve certain documents. In my discussions with archival staff, I discovered the similarities and differences between archives and history and the variety of career paths. I believe archival specialization is a growing interest for my generation of historians.
What’s in store for you in school and in your profession over the next several years?
After I graduate with my History BA this spring, I plan to attend graduate school for a History MA and specialize in Public History. I have not made a definite decision on whether I would like to stay in the archival world or start a new adventure, but I do plan to stay in the history field.
What are your hobbies outside of school and work?
I love reading books, especially if it is a rainy day. If I do not feel like reading, I will watch movies with a big bowl of popcorn. I also enjoy outdoor walks and working out, which provides my mind with relaxation from my hectic schedule.