I applied for an internship at the Cumberland County Historical Society in May and was very open as to which projects I would work on for the duration of my internship. Throughout my time at CCHS, I worked on two projects, both of which dealt with photos. The first project was to construct a photo exhibit of five different groups living in Cumberland County for the Pathways Conference, a genealogical conference that was held at the Cumberland County Historical Society in October. I spent several weeks researching African Americans, Pennsylvania Dutch, Scotch-Irish, Greeks, and the military in Cumberland County. I was mainly looking for why each of these groups settled in this area and how they influenced Cumberland County. After researching each group, I began looking through photographs to find ones that best represented each unique population. It was difficult at times to choose which photographs I thought would be best for the exhibit because there were so many great photos. I tried to include more recent photos as well, by going through the Sentinel Collection of photos. I then printed out the best photos, arranged and attached them on the bulletin boards, and wrote a short summary for each board that explained the significance of each group in Cumberland County. The boards were hung in Todd Hall for the Pathways Conference at the end of October.
After I finished the photo exhibit, I needed another project to work on for the remainder of my time at CCHS. I was asked to go through a box of Sentinel negatives from the late 1990s and early 2000s that was affected by a flood. I recorded the information of each set of negatives in an Excel sheet, dusted off the negatives to remove the dirt that accumulated from the flood and then placed them into new, archival plastic sleeves to ensure their preservation. Many of the original contact sheets that were meant to protect the negatives were stuck together due to water damage, which required me to rip them apart, and often the original sleeves that contained the negatives were also so damaged from the flood that they needed to be cut open in order to recover the photos. Although I went through roughly 400 sets of negatives, there is still much work to be done. There are still several boxes of negatives that need to be put into the new archival sleeves and the next step will be to go through all of them again to put them in chronological order. It was always enjoyable to process these negatives, though, because I saw what stories the Sentinel covered in the late 1990s and the early 2000s through photographs. The photos ranged from athletic events to aerial views of Cumberland County to an emu on the loose. I never knew what photos these negatives would contain, which kept it very interesting.
My internship with CCHS was very beneficial to me. The staff and volunteers at CCHS were extremely kind and helpful to me throughout my internship. I learned new skills, such as how to create a small exhibit and process negatives of photographs, which will be valuable to me as I continue to pursue a career in the public history sphere.
Andrea Readshaw, Shippensburg University, Fall Intern 2017
Apply for an internship at CCHS HERE.