An internship at the Marshall Foundation Library
Winston Churchill is quoted as once saying “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” I sure hope that’s true, as I have learned a lot about the 20th Century lately, much of it sad and tragic.
For the last year, I have worked as an intern in the archives at the George C. Marshall Foundation Library. As I helped organize and catalog items, I have handled letters, books, and pictures from the early 1900s to the late 1970s. I have read love letters from war-torn couples, condolences cards stained with tears, and seen a real map from D-Day. And not many people have seen an Enigma machine, an Oscar, and a Nobel prize all in one place.
But the worth of the Foundation and its records is much more than just the items. Every morning, when the vault door and gate are opened, Melissa the librarian greets the archives and the people whose stories have been entrusted to the Foundation with “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen!” There might now only be pieces of paper, but they belonged to living people. I have learned to be grateful to the people of the past for the work they put into making the present.
I have learned many facts, but what I cherish even more is the people I’ve learned about. George Marshall headed a plan to prevent pain, suffering, starvation, and possibly World War 3. I’ve read thousands of papers about the work that went into the Marshall Plan; the stories of the soldiers who had never left their hometowns before enlisting; and even the tales of dogs who underwent training to help win the war. I have laughed and cried in the archives as I read the stories of those who lived, and died.
I’m graduating from Clarion University next month with my Master in Library Science, and soon a full-time job will take me away from the Marshall Foundation Library archives. When I leave the archives for the last time, I will say “Until we meet again ladies and gentlemen!”
Eryn Davis is a library science graduate student at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and is working for a while in the Marshall Foundation Library archives accessioning collections. After graduation she hopes to find a permanent job working in library archives.