Social Media intern Rachel Panella is a student worker in Digital Collections at the Harry Ransom Center. Rachel holds a BA from the University of Texas at Austin and is finishing her MSIS from the University of Texas at Austin School of Information.
What drew you to archives?
I had always been interested in cultural heritage institutions, and this was a large reason that I became an Art History major. At some point during my undergrad, I was looking for a volunteer position and found out about the Austin Public Library system. They had a position open at the Austin History Center and the minute I was given a tour of the stacks, I fell in love. I felt like Indiana Jones lost in a room of unknown artifacts. From there, I ended up interning at the Harry Ransom Center, and I have been there ever since. Every time I come across some new document or artifact, I instantly remember why I picked this profession.
Why did you get involved with WAR?
I have been working with archives for three years now, and as I continue with this profession, I wish to become more involved in SAA. I believe that SAA and in particular, your group provides an important outlet for new, young professionals in the field. Although a seemingly female-dominated field, WAR understands and discusses the unique issues of women in the archives.
I, myself, have been interested in fashion and costumes over the years and their function in the archive. I feel that these are unique cultural heritage materials, but are often overlooked or disregarded due to their feminine connotation. Much in the same way that the Arts and Crafts movement, a movement highly populated by women, was once disregarded by Art Historians as a lesser form of art, I believe that clothing and textiles are often overlooked as cultural documents. As an archivist, I wish to make the importance of these artifacts known. I believe that WAR provides a nurturing outlet for this kind of thought and because of this, I wanted to help to promote WAR.
What’s your favorite memory from an SAA conference?
As a fairly new member, I have, unfortunately, not been able to attend an SAA conference yet, but I have many memories of intense jealousy towards those posting pictures from the event.