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Pepperdine Students Conclude Special Collections Internship

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Austin McElrath, Andrea Oates, and Sarah Dannemiller recently concluded their 15-week, for-credit internship during the spring 2013 semester.

Austin processed and created a finding aid for the Elinor Oswald Collection of Southern California Tourism Ephemera. The collection comprises a wide variety of tourist ephemera relating to Elinor Oswald’s professional career as a tour guide in the Southern California area between 1968 and 2009. The project included arranging and describing materials, writing a finding aid, and adding descriptive information to Archivists’ Toolkit. The finding aid is online and viewable by clicking here.

Andrea also processed and created a finding aid for a collection. She processed the John D. Nicks Jr. Papers. Nicks was a former professor, dean of the business school, vice president of academic affairs, and vice president of development at Pepperdine University from the 1970s to the 1990s. The project included arranging and describing materials, writing a finding aid, and adding descriptive information to Archivists’ Toolkit. The finding aid is now online and viewable by clicking here.

Sarah worked on two projects during the course of her internship. She enhanced the finding aid for the M. Norvel and Helen Young Papers. The Young papers are our single largest collection at 225.59 linear feet. Sarah described the collection in greater detail, adding folder level description to Archivists’ Toolkit and updating the finding aid. She also assisted the archivist with exhibit preparation for Bible Lectures. Sarah selected Churches of Christ hymnals to display and researched the hymnals to make captions.

Sarah had this to say about her internship experience in Special Collections:

After reflecting upon my experience as an intern I realized how I had underestimated the importance of an archivist’s work and also the amount of time that goes into a project. I thought that I had a legitimate reason as to why I should be selected to do this internship. I wrote a paper for my HIST 200 class that required the use of the university’s archives. I spent hours flipping through folders and papers that had little relevance to my research in order to find the “jackpot.” I thought there needed to be more organization and better detailed finding aids so I wasn’t spending all my precious research time flipping through folders. However, once I was assigned to creating a finding aid and expanding it I realized just how much time it took to create the bare minimum. I came to appreciate and to respect the time and effort that archivists put into making materials available for researchers, regardless of how much detail they put into the finding aids.

Not only did I gain a new appreciation for archival work but I also enjoyed the creative aspect of it. I was lucky enough to be interning at the same time that an exhibit for Pepperdine’s Bible Lectures was being set up. As a member of the Churches of Christ, the opportunity was great not just for my career but also for my spiritual involvement. I was excited to learn about my own tradition’s history and through what seemed like a personally edifying research process, felt like I was able to give something back to my church family. I was able to use my research skills as a historian and my creative capabilities to contribute something to an event that brings many Christians together in a spirit of unification and fellowship.

Sarah standing in front of the exhibit case she worked on.

For further questions about internships or Special Collections and University Archives holdings please contact Katie Richardson at or (310)506-4323.

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