My experience as an intern at the AGRC this semester has been one of many roles. I’ve played the researcher, scouring through yearbooks and curriculums of semesters long past; the biographer, piecing together the professional life of MTSU Faculty Alumni June Anderson; the sleuth, digging through Anderson’s personal documents, including angry letters and personal correspondences; and the typical archives worker, spending many not so countless hours in a mind-numbing stupor scanning images and describing them. While some of these roles have been more fun than others, they have been undeniably helpful in preparing me for a career in museum work.
My project for the first half of the semester was to learn as much as I possibly could about the life of June Anderson, a Chemistry and Women’s Studies professor responsible for helping numerous women and nontraditional students earn degrees and enjoy a safe, supportive environment. She founded the Concerned Faculty and Administrative Women in 1975, the Women’s Information Service for Education (WISE) in 1977, and Women in Higher Education in Tennessee (WHET) in 1980. Looking through documents ranging from applications for financial aid to fund these initiatives, to letters written documenting the various services provided by these establishments, it is hard not to see June Anderson as a heroine for the women of MTSU. She campaigned not only to improve women’s experience at MTSU, but also to improve their lives outside of university. Anderson’s files reveal the lengths she was willing to go to for her clients, including providing rides and setting up job interviews. The fact that WISE was renamed the June Anderson Women’s Center following her death in 1984 reveals the impact she had on this community as well as the legacy she left behind.
The warm weather chilled, and alas, the first phase of my internship came to an end. I was sorely saddened to leave my beloved new hero behind. Comforted with the knowledge that she would pass into the hands of our other intern Amanda, however, I was ready to start my next project. The return from fall break marked my new task of scanning images from the Margaret Lindsley Warden Papers. I’ve learned a great deal about Warden and her work making Middle Tennessee a premier location for horse shows. If you could not guess from her enormous collection of books relating to all things equine, her work as the writer of “Horse Sense” for the Tennessean reveals that she was passionate about bringing her love and appreciation for horses to the people of Middle Tennessee. I’m excited about gaining a deeper appreciation for her zealous work as the semester moves forward. This experience has enabled me to learn many new skills and I can’t wait for my repertoire to continue growing.