|For my internship with the Gettysburg Semester, I worked in Special Collections and the College Archives in the Musselman Library. There was one other intern from the Gettysburg Semester, Jerrica, and our project was to process the Civil War Vertical File Manuscripts.|
For those for whom this might not mean much (including me before I did it), a Vertical File is like a closet, you collect stuff in it, even if you are not necessarily sure what it is, only this stuff is manuscripts-letters, diaries, ledgers, receipts, you name it. The Civil War Vertical File Manuscripts were papers that the archivists knew had some thing to do with the Civil War, they just weren't sure what. Our job was to read the papers, figure out what they were, and highlight key names, places, and dates to create finding aids for future researchers.
You never knew quite what you would find when you reached into the file. Some of the more notable things I processed were letters from O.O. Howard, Jubal Early, and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. We even have a Lincoln signature. How many people my age can say they handled and touched Abraham Lincoln's signature? Aside from (sort of) brushing shoulders with the greats, I also got to read personal letters and diaries from people who weren't so famous. While I was there, we got a donation of one soldier's wartime letters to his wife. All of them. He wrote to her almost everyday and sometimes twice on one day. Unfortunately, we didn't get to read them all, but it was touching to hear him tell of missing home and family, feelings that are easy to relate to. On top of that, in the process, I wound up learning a lot about the College, including during the battle, and the town of Gettysburg, which came in handy for class.