2018 Internship at The Cuyahoga County Archives

A few weeks before the end of my second semester as a graduate student at Cleveland State University, I went on my first visit to the Cuyahoga Country Archives which is located in downtown Cleveland on East 40th Street and Perkins Avenue. I traveled to the archives in order to introduce myself to the Head Archivist Dr. Judy Cetina. I was not sure how this meeting was going to go, especially sense this would be my first ever visit to the archives. Upon my arrival, I admit I thought I was in the wrong place; the building looked like an old factory and it was a bit difficult to find the buildings main entrance. Eventually, I would be let into the building and I was able to find my way to the third floor, where the archives was located. It was here that I was finally able to meet Dr. Cetina, whom made it very apparent from our first meeting, how passionate of a person she was. Initially, I only believed that I would be there for an hour, just to discuss the terms of the internship. However, I was proven wrong very quickly. We ended up talking about the archives and the possible projects I would work on and then on top of this, she gave me an extensive tour of the archives. Overall, I ended up being there for nearly two and half hours. Most would probably see this as a complaint, but to me, it was a sign of amazement. Dr. Cetina appeared incredibly passionate about the archives and even more passionate about the projects that I could do for her.

When I was at the archives, we discussed working on a project that involved going through old boxes that were collected by the previous Head Archivist in order to categorize them properly. We also discussed working on setting up exhibits in the new space; the archives had just moved locations so there was available space to put up some small exhibits in their new lobby area. In addition, we discussed working on a building card project, which would have involved organizing old building cards into a new filing system. Once I heard these projects, I was excited about working on both the box project and the project that involved setting up exhibits. I believed that these two projects would help me develop and sharpen old skills that I had already acquired from my previous experiences. Furthermore, I was excited to start this internship and was even more excited to work with Dr. Cetina.

On May 21st, 2018 my internship began and admittedly it was a rough start, but this was no fault of the archives. It was the fact that its location was still in transition from its old location, on Franklin Boulevard, to its new location. The two main problems that arose were the new security system had not been installed yet, so getting into the building was a challenge from the start and the second problem was that because of the move, everything did not yet have a defined place in the archives. Both of these problems were dealt with within the first few weeks of my internship as the entrance was completed and it became relatively easy to get into the building. By the end of the first month, it appeared that everything had a place or was quickly being moved into its permanent location. It was clear, from the outset, that all the employees were working hard to make this place look professional and elegant for their re-opening that would occur in August 2018.

As stated previously, I was supposed to be working on two projects at the archives, a cataloging project and a project that involved setting up exhibits. Unfortunately, my exhibition project fell through, but again not at the fault of the archives. It was the fact that the display cabinets for the exhibition kept getting delayed by the manufacturer and we were not able to get them delivered to the institution until the end of July. Even though the exhibition project fell through, I was still able to work on the cataloging project. This project involved me going through a multitude of boxes and copying down the information I found. Typically, I found books in the boxes, so most of the information I had to copy down was the title, the author, the publication date, and a brief description of the object. The best part of this project was that I had been asked to determine whether or not the archives still needed the objects. This meant that the object needed to have something to do with Cuyahoga County or at least had to be related to Cuyahoga County in some way. My initial thought on this was that, “of course all these objects would be about Cuyahoga County, it’s the Cuyahoga County Archives.”  However, I was proven wrong with my very first box.

In the first box that I opened, I found a very riveting book about plants. Now at this point you are probably thinking exactly what I was thinking, maybe this book is only about plants native to Northeast Ohio or Ohio in general. However, it was not. It was simply a basic book about plants in general. Immediately, I told Dr. Cetina what I had found and we both enjoyed a good laugh. During this moment, she told me “that is something that we certainly do not have to keep.” I continued working on this project for the remainder of the summer, finding other odd objects, but also finding some interesting ones. A prime example would be a near complete set of Cleveland Directories that date back to the early 1900s. Overall, I think that this was an excellent project that helped me develop and sharpen my cataloging skills.

When looking back on my internship at the Cuyahoga County Archives, I have one takeaway that goes above all others. It would be that I hope one day to be as passionate about my career as the employees at the Cuyahoga County Archives. The smallest thing would make them excited and would spark in-depth conversations full of both commentary and moments of uncontrollable laughter. It is easy to see that the people who work at the archives love what they do and will continue to work there until they no longer work. If you are looking for any information about Cuyahoga County, this is the place to go. The staff will happily assist you with any project you may have and even if they themselves do not know the answers to your questions, one way or another, they will find a way to help you. The Cuyahoga County Archives is a wonderful place and I was honored to have an internship at such an establishment.

 

Archives Meeting Room
Private research desks
Main atrium of the Cuyahoga County Archives
Main Hallway of Archived material
Here are the boxes that I was in charge of cataloging while at the Archives