The National Archives—Central Plains Region hosted Alternative Spring Break Program interns Laura Gentry and Aubrey Maynard, Library and Information Science students from Wayne State University, to assist in planning and hosting two Citizen Archivist events during the week of March 10-14, 2014. The Citizen Archivist events focused on digitization and indexing of documents selected from: the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Selective Service System, and the Provost Marshal General's Bureau (Civil War). Collectively, the participants digitized 2,343 images and created 1,367 index entries.
In total eight members of the local community participated. Five members attended the first day and eagerly returned for the second day when offered the opportunity. An additional three joined on the second day. Participants were not required to attend both sessions, but several wanted to return to continue work on projects and sample other tasks.
The Citizen Archivist events illustrate the advantages of tapping into community interest in history. Though there is a time investment to prepare for and execute these events, they create a meaningful product that benefits researchers and staff.
Additionally, Gentry and Maynard emerged from this experience with a greater understanding of the National Archives digitization and indexing workflows and the behind the scenes planning required to hold such events. Skills such as record selection, project management, time management, resource allocation, and logistics, were refined through this process.