Volunteer Spotlight: Julie Goforth

Get to know Archives volunteer Julie Goforth.

The Smithsonian Institution has more than 6,000 onsite volunteers and thousands more who work virtually on various projects. Julie Goforth has been an intern, contractor, and now volunteer with the Digital Services Division at the Archives. Her work has included processing thousands of digital video files in our collections. We are happy to highlight Julie for Volunteer Appreciation Month.

A white woman in a blue shirt and blue jeans wearing rings, necklace, and bracelet sits outside on a 

What is your background?

I am originally from Alabama and I attended Florida State University where I received a B.A. in Art History. I took a lot of art classes while I was in college and really liked computer design, so I became a web and graphic designer after completing a Web Design Specialist certificate in Northern Virginia. I concentrated on working with cultural heritage organizations in my area and I realized that I wanted to offer services like digital preservation and online collections, so I received a graduate certificate in Digital Curation from Johns Hopkins University. 

What brought you to the Smithsonian Institution Archives as a volunteer?

The Johns Hopkins Digital Curation program opened the door to me to work with the Smithsonian Archives as an intern. It was really thrilling to get that hands-on experience working in the Archives. Later, I was able to work as a contractor on a project and now I am a volunteer.

What are you working on currently for the Archives?

I currently work on the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory-Science Media Group collection. This is the collection I worked on as a contractor previously. It was such a great experience to be able to do the initial processing on this collection that I didn't want it to end! It has been really interesting to see the depth of technical detail you can get into when working with a digital collection. On the flip side, looking at larger themes and connections, historical materials, and thinking about what people might get out of the collection is fascinating. Working with a born-digital collection is particularly interesting because there are so many preservation issues. It is great to look at older digital materials since I think we forget how far we have come digitally in such a short amount of time.

What is the coolest or most interesting thing you have found or learned about at the Archives?

The coolest thing about the Smithsonian Archives is the people. There is a great culture of openness and education there. Of course, the collection itself is amazing and it has been great to see how such a large collection is managed and made available to the public. 

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