Written by Sarah Calise, Archivist
The Gore Center is pleased to introduce our 2019 Bart Gordon Papers summer intern, Sarah Coffman! During the spring semester, the Gore Center held a nationwide search for a graduate student in public history and archives to help process the congressional papers of former U.S. Representative Bart Gordon. Sarah will be focused on developing an efficient workflow for processing the Gordon Papers, as well as creating a public history project of her choosing.
Sarah is originally from Soddy Daisy, Tennessee which is a town just outside of Chattanooga. She received her undergraduate degree in History with a minor in Anthropology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and then completed her M.A. in Public History and Archival Science from Illinois State University. She is currently pursuing her Master of Library Science from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.
What are your historical and archival interests? Why do you want to enter this professional field?
I spent my two years of graduate school working as a graduate archivist for the Jo-Ann Rayfield Archives at Illinois State and the Milner Library working to help digitize faculty research notes. I had a wonderful mentor and boss who helped to spark my archival passion. I knew I would never have the patience to teach history, so becoming an archivist/librarian is my way of educating people.
I have a wide range of focus when it comes to history interests–from the rise of nation-states in 1848 to the end of WWI to urban development history and how our choices have affected us today. My archival interests seem to be tied to my history interests. I am drawn to the Russian archives and their vast amount of information and structure.
What interests you about congressional archives?
Since I have never worked with a congressional collection, I am super curious to see the differences between processing a university collection and an individual on a larger platform.
What do you do for fun? Any cool experiences you wish to share?
I am a dog mom to Chuck. He’s a 9-year-old West Highland Terrier/Shih Tzu mix. I love him a lot. Also, my best friend (Shayla) and I want to visit every MLB stadium over the course of our lives. Our next stop is Wrigley Field this summer.
What are you looking forward to during your internship?
Honestly? Learning! Each research center or archive are different, and the more I visit and learn, the more beneficial I can be for the future archival field. Congressional collections themselves are new for me, too, so the exposure to political materials will be a helpful insight.