When I first applied for an internship at the Smithsonian Institution Archives, I admittedly did not know much about it. For my internship, I was asked to make a video that would explain to the general public what the Archives was, as well as what resources it could offer them. On my first day here I was told that the Archives held the records and history of the Smithsonian Institution. I thought this sounded straightforward enough, but as I began to work on the video I realized there was more to it than that. With each new interview, with each day of shooting B-roll footage, or simply being around the office I heard new stories and learned new things about the Archives. I learned that there was everything here from correspondence, books, and architecture plans to photographs, negatives, and film reels. The subjects of these items range from science and history to art and literature. They cover a large span and scope of American History and give unique insight into it. There really is something to interest everyone here.
What I also discovered is that this information is available to the public. While I grew up in the Washington, DC area and have always enjoyed going to the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo, I never knew that the Archives were also there as a public resource. Visitors can request specific information from the reference archivists, explore the collections online through the Archives’ website, or get helpful advice on preservation through the forums. These resources are valuable for everyone from researchers, to archivists, or anyone simply interested in the history of just about any subject.
I quickly realized that covering the broad scope of the Archives would be difficult to do in one video. I felt that any one area of the Smithsonian could easily fill its own video, and I had to consolidate all of these into one. I decided to try to touch on every area or subject that was in the Archives, rather than trying to cover any one in depth. I felt that this would give people an idea of what was at the Archives and allow them explore more about whatever area interested them most on their own. In the end there was too much information, footage, and too many good interviews to fit into just one video. So we split the video in two: one to explain what the Archives is and one to tell people about the resources it can provide. I hope these videos will help people discover the Archives and all that it has to offer, as I have over the course of this summer.