The project I work on in the Valparaiso University Archives is called “Week of Challenge” and it involves a wide-range of academic fields. Week of Challenge started in 1967 and ran through the late 1990s; many speakers from all ideological backgrounds spoke to the students. Since the event started in the mid-1960s, technology was not advanced and in order to record voice they used reel-to-reel tapes, as seen in the photo. I am currently assisting in an application for a grant to digitize the tapes. To understand the program, I have examined The Torch to obtain information about campus culture, the speakers, and the government structure at Valparaiso University.
When looking to apply your history degree it is best to utilize an individualized and semi-independent course of internships. What better place to obtain an internship than your own university; where you know the experience will be a quality and worthwhile one. With the internship opportunity I was able to test and develop my history skills, chiefly through the use of primary sources. One of the most valuable aspects of the internship was the opportunity to be one of the first historians to cover it.
UPDATE: After my time at the archives I still needed a year to finish my degree. I dual-majored in political science and history. My senior seminar project for history focused on the altering of the Sioux identity during and beyond the Sioux Wars. Unfortunately, due to time constraints and lack of funding I was not able to utilize an archive for my research topic, because most of the archives that hold documents of interests were in the west. Be that as it may there were many books that utilized a hodgepodge of archival documents that provided the bulk of my research; however, I am wary about the limited interactions I had with true primary documents—not an edited volume.
Since my time at Valparaiso University I have been undergoing a fellowship at the Russell Kirk Center in Mecosta Michigan. During my time I have learned a lot about the conservative intellectual movement in America, as well as the arduous task of running a nonprofit. I did not think about the potential primary documents before coming here, but Russell Kirk had corresponded with many people—the boxes of documents are somewhat overwhelming for such a small institute. As a person that seeks to examine history it would be impossible to escape an archive.
Beyond my current fellowship I plan to take a gap year. This gap year will allow me to zero in on the path I want to take. Because of my wide-ranging interests I find it difficult to select a field to study. The gap year will give me time to develop my thoughts and select a program that can best fulfill my intellectual desires.