Overall, the whole point of the hours and hours of work I have put into the tasks required of me at this internship is to make the information about and relating to the Voter Education Project easily available to the public. To recap, the duties I needed to fulfill were mainly: sorting through the infamous briefcase (as my collaborators Lauren, Thaddeus, and I often referred to and passed around, caring for it as if it were our own child, of course), choosing from letters, field reports, and other miscellaneous documents, reading carefully through them a few times to get a clear understanding of the context and details, and finally constructing a 100 or so (200+ for me most of the time, oops!) summary of each chronicle to upload on a shared document with the three of us and Professor Faulkenbury. That portion of the internship is what seemed to take the longest, sorting and rereading in addition to trying to get the summary cut down to size without losing any crucial details. The second phase, however, is admittedly a little more fun to do, as I’m starting to see the sweat and tears come to life in a way that was not visible before. We are now to begin entering the information and uploading it on Omeka, a free open source web-publishing platform that displays digital exhibits and individual items. The site uses metadata that is entered in different sections such as “Title”, “Creator”, “Date”, etc (as well as the summaries that were completed in internship: phase one!) to create a public, online piece that includes all of the information necessary and makes it available to anyone anywhere with internet access through tags. I am fortunate enough to have worked with the site before creating my own exhibit, so I am able to navigate it fairly well. It is a slightly tedious process to enter every small detail into its allotted box, but it honestly feels rewarding. I think it’s super cool that I get to see the work I have collaborated on on the internet, obtainable for anyone who needs to use it for anything, forever. All of the work that Professor Faulkenbury put into preparing for his book and researching about mobilizing the black vote in the Civil Rights era south is visible for those who are interested, future historians included. It is an extremely important topic that unfortunately hasn’t been touched on as much as it should be, nor has the Voter Education Project gotten nearly as much credit for all the work it did to ensure voting rights for African Americans throughout the entire time it was active. This was an important book that Faulkenbury wrote, it has been important work that Thaddeus, Lauren and I have done, and I am so happy to be able to say I was a part of it. This is something I gush about to friends and family, and maybe one day will even show my own kids. (I’m sure they will also love history, right?!) While my perspective on our technology heavy world wavers at times, I’m glad we live in a time where information like this, stored away in a briefcase in an attic for decades, can be shared with the world after just a few clicks. Maybe it is the impending graduation emotions talking, but I feel so grateful that I was selected to work personally with Professor Faulkenbury on this, especially after realizing how much all of this truly meant to him and his work as a historian. This is something I will carry with me into my adult life. Through the ups and downs, I am ecstatic to say I survived being a history major at SUNY Cortland. To my other graduates- excelsior!
By: Tori Duger, spring 2019