“I [spent a semester] undeclared and I just battled back and forth, but then, I realized that in my heart, I wanted to study history,” said Davis. “If I wasn’t sure before I took history classes at Temple, I became completely sure after.”
By the spring of her freshman year, Davis was officially registered as a history major, and after taking classes in the field, she knew that she wanted to apply her education to the professional world.
By taking an internship at the Presbyterian Historical Society, Davis has found an interest in the public history and archives, which she hopes to pursue professional opportunities in upon graduation.
Located in the Old City district of Philadelphia, the Presbyterian Historical Society is the official national archives for the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Davis’s tasks as an Assistant Archival Technician include digitizing documents sent to the organization by Presbyterian churches nationwide, organizing data on collections and archival material, and reading through research guides for collections to make sure they are user-friendly.
“The coolest part of having an internship is the hands-on [experience],” said Davis. “There are times when I [work with] books from the early 1800’s.”
At first, Davis was unsure if she wanted to stay in the field of public history, but her internship has solidified her passion for archives.
“I like the idea of bringing history to the public for everyday use, because people tend to think that history is just memorization of facts and dates,” said Davis. “If you don’t study the past and try to make sense of it for the future, you will have the same problems over again.”
Davis learned about history’s importance through her classes at Temple, specifically through the teachings of Professors Ralph Young and Lila Berman.
“They’re both inspiring with their value of history and their ability to make every topic relevant to today,” said Davis.
Young believes that internships complement students’ educations by providing them with real-world experiences and application.
“Internships give students an opportunity to implement their academic knowledge- the new ideas, perspectives, and critical analysis skills – that they’ve learned in the classroom, in a real world environment,” said Young. “Doing so gives them a deeper understanding of how to apply such knowledge as they engage with the community.”
Davis will be staying with the Presbyterian Historical Society this summer, and in the future, hopes to work in public history while pursuing a master’s degree in the subject.
“Having this internship has opened a lot of doors for me,” said Davis. “After I graduate, I [want to] work my way around the city in archives, museums or historical societies.”