Hello everyone! My name is Mary Beth Bensey. I am in my second semester of graduate school in the MA in History program at the University of Central Florida. My research interests center around religious history – specifically Protestantism in early colonial America. So, when the director of Public History at UCF, Dr. Scot French, told me that there was an internship available working with church history, I was thrilled! After receiving more information about the internship, I learned that the internship involved working with Betty Sample and other volunteers in a church archival project for First Baptist Winter Park. While I was interested in the internship simply because it worked with church history, I was incredibly excited to learn that I’d have the opportunity to work at First Baptist Winter Park.
I was excited about working with First Baptist Winter Park given that it is a church I’m familiar with. During my freshman year of college, I had a wonderful time helping out the youth group, known as “the 407.” I’ve also had several close friends work at the church. Considering my previous experiences, being offered a internship in archival history at a church that I’m familiar with seemed too good to be true.
Going into this internship, I am excited to learn all that I can. Given that I’ve never been in an archive, I hope to learn a lot about archiving and preservation. I hope to learn the process and techniques for preserving historical items. I also hope to learn about digitizing archives, as Betty Sample wants all of the archival items digitized after they have been catalogued.
When the first day of my internship came around, I got to dive right into learning and practicing church archival history! For the first part of my internship, I learned about the archival project. Giving you a brief overview, First Baptist Winter Park is 103 years old. The church has a collection of scrapbooks documenting the church history. Unfortunately, the scrapbooks contain photographs, bulletin clippings, letters, and more in scrapbooks that contain acidic paper. As a result, the historical items are in danger of deteriorating due to the acidity of the paper. Additionally, some of the items contain paper clips and staples that cause additional deterioration to the items. For the archival project, our first job is to catalogue all of the scrapbooks and each item in the scrapbook. For example, I’ve been assigned the 1978-1979 scrapbook. My job is to label each page in ascending order. The labeling system I am using is: WPFB.SB.1978-1979.01.000.000. This label stands for Winter Park First Baptist, Scrapbook, the year of the scrapbook, the page number, the item on the page number, the number of the item on the page. As I go through the scrapbook and label the pages and items, it is my responsibility to remove any staples and paperclips along the way. As an archivist, I wear cotton gloves so that I do not damage any of the items. For the first two weeks or so, I will spend my time labeling my scrapbook. Once the scrapbook is labeled, I will begin documenting the scrapbook’s metadata. Be sure to stay tuned to my blog and follow my journey in learning archival history!