By Corinne Neustadter
As a history major interested in pursuing archival research, Terrie Farley (B.A. ‘23) jumped at the chance to work with archivist Patty Rettig as the undergraduate archival intern this semester at the Colorado State University Libraries.
As CSU’s water history hub, the Water Resources Archive compiles and records the documents of prominent individuals and organizations in the West’s water history.
“Having this genuine archival experience is invaluable. It’s not just sitting back, but learning how to do it, and putting those things into practice,” Farley said. “Patty gives me a lot of independence to figure things out on my own where I can go to her for support, but my judgement is trusted.”
Farley first learned about the Water Resources Archive from a historical methods course taught by professor Mike Childers last semester when the class toured the archive to see how history coursework can translate into careers in archival work.
“I’m interested in archival work as a career, and this is such an amazing experience because this is what I want to do – an actual execution of my career interest,” she said. “I love the hands-on work of it – the processing, analyzing and researching.”
With Rettig and Childers, Farley built the semester-long internship based around her interest in learning how to work with archival documents.
Over the past six weeks, Farley has delved into the logistics of processing collections the Archive receives and began working on processing a collection of manuscripts documenting the development of a family farm in northern Colorado, with materials dating from 1960 to 2015. For the collection, Farley developed a series of finding aids that identify archival materials and help users find what they’re looking for.
“In college, we often take the position of researcher, and it’s not too often you get to engage in preliminary research and create finding aids for others – it was really interesting to go through and siphon out the meaning of that collection and process it, to see that side of things, it’s really insightful.”
With her first archival experience under her belt, Farley hopes to integrate her history degree and a concentration in the Italian language – along with a newfound interest in water history – into an archival position abroad. She plans to study abroad in Rome this summer and hopes to explore avenues for working internationally in archival research.
“It’s so thought-provoking to think about information in a different context,” she said. “What are people looking for with this collection, and how can we make sure this collection gets into the right hands?”
You can help student workers succeed
The Library Student Employee Support fund was created to help us continue to provide students with meaningful employment and the opportunity to develop valuable workplace skills through their work at Morgan Library, like the opportunities at the Water Resources Archive.