BKBB Archives Intern Reflections: Matty Marrow | Presbyterian Historical Society

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BKBB Archives Intern Reflections: Matty Marrow

April 4, 2023
Spring 2023 BKBB Archives Intern Matty Marrow (right) with their internship supervisor, Reference and Outreach Archivist Sonia Prescott (left).

In February, PHS welcomed BKBB Archives Intern Matty Marrow. Read a reflection on their internship below and click here for an interview with Matty.

Throughout my internship, I honestly have grown so much more than I thought I would. I came in expecting to get some general knowledge of how an archive operates, and explore the ways that different archivists work, but I really learned so much more than that.

To start with, I was initially interested in this internship because of my total lack of knowledge on archives and historical societies in general. Before this year, I was an English major who had a deep level of personal interest in history, but I didn’t really think there was any future career opportunities in it. After doing some research and reflection, I realized that the reason I was studying English at all was because I loved to read historically relevant works and loved to learn about the history of documents, more than their actual contents. I was embarking on this new journey in history then when I came across the listing for the internship and decided that it would be a great way to better understand what careers in English and History look like. Along with that, I was raised Presbyterian and thought the opportunity to learn more about lesser-known Presbyterian histories would be too good to pass up.

Spring 2023 BKBB Archives Intern Matty Marrow with their internship supervisor, Reference and Outreach Archivist Sonia Prescott.

My church did not put a great amount of emphasis on the history of Presbyterianism, and I really lacked the ability to explore this there. The town I lived in and the church I went to were both predominantly white and so when I saw the opportunity to learn more about African Americans in the church, I knew it was the right fit for me.

This also ties into the way that I wished Presbyterians interacted with their own history. I find that there is not a huge emphasis on the past of Presbyterianism and the way that it has been changing and evolving. So much of what I know now, I learned during my short time at PHS. I hope that in the future, there will be more done by the Church and by individuals to teach and learn about the past of the Church.

I worked mostly on the African American timeline during my time at PHS. From that though, I found plenty of people to write more in depth through blogs, like my first blog Daniel J. Sanders (D.J. Sanders). His story struck me so hard at the beginning of my internship because he was so important to so many in his life, but years after his death his legacy began to fade from view. In his death as well, his pro-civil rights views were watered down to make him seem much more mild-mannered in his dealings with white men. I was frustrated by this and the way that it spoke on a larger scale to how many African Americans, like D.J. Sanders, are cast aside after their deaths, with their huge contributions forgotten to time. This really reaffirmed my biggest goal in my current and future career to rewrite those parts of history to include the unincluded.

Screen capture of the African American timeline created by PHS. 

My writing also has grown through my time here because of the thoughtful editing that I received. It was so nice to know that people were trying to really read my words as my words and that their edits were not to ever take away my personal voice from my work. I was also heavily encouraged to work on what interested me and to include what I felt was important, which made my work not even feel like work, because it was just fun to do.

This internship has been a tremendous help in trying to discover what I want to do in my future career. I went from knowing basically nothing about archives to actually seriously considering what my potential life could look like working in one. Even if I don’t, I have a much better understanding of my options with a degree in history. Along with that, I feel like I have made a great step toward my goals because I have so much tangible evidence of my time at PHS. Having all of the things I’ve written to show future employers or schools is really invaluable in today’s world. I have made some really amazing connections with so many people who work here and I am beyond excited to have them continue to watch me grow in this field.

I really think my only complaint about this internship is that it’s over. I loved being here, I love the people who work here, and I love how helpful it has been to my education. As cheesy as it sounds, I would do this internship a million times over without question and would recommend it to anyone who ever asked.