Voices of the MRC: Volunteering

Astrid is a final year History student at the University of Warwick. She has kindly written us a piece about her experience as a volunteer for the MRC:

This year I’ve volunteered at the MRC on a weekly basis and have been part of a supportive and intellectually dynamic team. I have been given the opportunity to research, catalogue and reference material and create webpages. It has been enjoyable, as well as a source of invaluable work experience. As a volunteer I’ve acquired and developed skills that will serve me in the future including working independently, working as a team, performing administrative tasks, undertaking extensive research projects, learning how to verify the accuracy of information, designing webpages… and so the list continues. I have been able to do all of this whilst indulging and enriching my passion for history, philosophy, politics and the arts in general.

You never know what you may come across whilst sorting through a wide variety of material, and that adds to the fun of working in archiving.  I’ve been engaged by everything from correspondence, reports, newspaper articles and photographs, to scribbled notes and scrapbooks containing flower-pressings. It is one thing to read about the past in a history book, but quite another to have a personal connection with the actual physical remnants, and feel the past become relevant and connected to your present.

I originally joined the MRC about two years ago during the summer holidays almost by accident and had little or no idea of what archives really did for communities. Now with five months left until graduation, archiving has become an area I would like to explore and take further.  I have learnt that archiving is not limited to academia, that it has a wide variety of uses and audiences, and involves exhibitions, talks, projects, digitisation, web communications, business acumen, administrative skills and customer service. For many reasons, I would highly recommend volunteering at the Modern Records Centre to others.

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