Recent Graduate Completes W&L Archival Internship

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Michael Hunter, a December 2014 graduate of Southern Virginia University who will walk at the annual Commencement exercises with more than 100 classmates May 7, recently completed an archival internship at Washington & Lee University.

“Michael’s passion and interest in archival work has certainly matured during this [internship],” said Tom Camden, head of Special Collections and University Archives at W&L. “Michael’s future is bright in the archival profession and I am so pleased that we were able to provide him with an opportunity to develop that passion. His work for us was of the highest caliber and he was always punctual and efficient.”

Hunter, who majored in history at Southern Virginia, worked on three different archival projects during the course of the internship.

“The first one was [about] a soldier during World War II,” said Hunter. “The second was a very notable lawyer in Rockbridge County. And the third was Professor Crawford’s research collection. It has all of her research she did for a book she wrote and is really fascinating.”

Prior to attending Southern Virginia, Hunter had thought he would become a history professor one day. When visiting several museums and other historic sites inspired him, however, he realized that he wanted to pursue a career as an archivist.

“I really love to handle old documents, to be able to experience them,” he said. “It sort of feels like a connection between the present and the past. … [I learned through the internship] that it takes a lot of careful dedication because many of the documents and even artifacts that I work with were at least 50 years old and in very delicate conditions.”

In addition to the W&L internship, Hunter also took a directed study course in archiving and participated in an internship at Southern Virginia. The directed study course and internship were both under the instruction of Stephanie Hardy, instructional services librarian, archivist and adjunct instructor of information literacy at the university.

“He is extremely passionate and dedicated and just gets completely into [his work],” said Hardy. “I think that this is really his niche in life. He just thinks like an archivist. … He was a very good student. He did a wonderful job.”

According to Hardy, he worked primarily on two main projects during the internship: digitizing and transcribing the journal of a Southern Seminary alumna and creating a display that linked the buildings on campus with the history of their namesakes.

Additionally, she said that Hunter is “very well qualified” for graduate work in the archival field. Hunter plans to pursue a master’s degree in archival studies and is particularly interested in a program at San Jose State University. He said that he feels his Southern Virginia education has prepared him well for further study.

“One of the main reasons I chose Southern Virginia is because it’s a liberal arts school and takes a lot more dedication,” he said. “I also [appreciated] the one-on-one time with the professors. A lot of them helped me surpass what I thought was my potential. I know it takes a lot of dedication to get through [graduate school] and I think that … the education I have received here will definitely help me in my master’s program.”

Hunter cited Dr. Francis MacDonnell, professor of history, as one of his most inspiring professors.

“When I’m in [Dr. MacDonnell’s] class, I can really grasp the passion for teaching, the passion for history,” he said. “He’s just overall a really fascinating professor. He’s really helped me, worked with me, and overall been an example of what any professor should be.”