Making a Future from the Past

Quinn Albert at the Porter County Museum

Quinn Albert ’18 started at Valparaiso University as an exploratory major, and through her coursework and internship experience she discovered her love for preserving history.

To explore her options for post-graduation, Quinn looked to the Valparaiso University Archives and Special Collections. Quinn was a member of the Archives’ inaugural internship/independent study cohort where she gained professional experience that supplemented her history interests.

“I was trying to figure out what I could do with a history major,” Quinn says. “It was a great experience to have an introduction working with historical artifacts in an archive. The internship made history come alive through the artifacts.”

Each student in the cohort was given an archival project to provide professional experience relevant to their future plans. In Quinn’s case this was carefully evaluating and editing the inventory of glass lantern slides that had belonged to the University’s first archivist, Katherine Bowden, who worked at the University library for many years until her retirement in 1950.

“Every day I went in and didn’t know what to expect,” Quinn says. “Katherine told stories with her slides, from a passion play in 1900 to the world’s fair in Paris. There’s a letter that I think of all the time from the president of Panama to Katherine thanking her for her presentation.”

After graduation, Quinn completed an internship with the Porter County Museum, and she has quickly become an integral member of the museum’s staff, overseeing the visitor experience.

“I’m usually the first person people see when they come into the museum,” Quinn says. “I give tours, manage volunteers, monitor the social media channels, and do as many other tasks as possible.”

Quinn is currently using skills she learned in a podcasting class taught by Elizabeth Wuerffel ’00, MFA, associate professor of art, to launch the museum’s first podcast. The initial episodes will tell the stories of the museum’s home, the former Porter County jail.

“When I started as an intern, I expressed interest in developing a podcast for them,” Quinn says. “I’m excited to see it finally come to fruition.”

In Quinn’s role at the Porter County Museum, she not only relies on the skills she learned at Valpo, but also the connections she made, especially those at the University Archives.

“In the Archives, we want to see students working with the materials of their ‘trade’,” says Rebecca Ostoyich, University archivist. “Having her move on to the Porter County Museum has been especially rewarding because it has brought our two institutions closer together.”

Quinn continues to collaborate with the University Archives to deepen the museum’s knowledge on Valpo’s history. The two organizations act as resources for one another, working to tell detailed and accurate accounts of the University and community.

Quinn Albert at the Porter County Museum