Posted March 5, 2018
Ashley Stevens, MLIS ’11, manages the emerging archival program at the Historic Ford Estates in Michigan.
What do you do in your current job?
I am in charge of Historic Ford Estates’ emerging archival program, which encompasses the collections of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House and Fair Lane — the Home of Henry and Clara Ford. I’m presently balancing the responsibilities of managing a small department, developing policies and procedures, and educating the staff about archives and their use. It’s an exciting challenge to build something from the ground up.
What’s the most interesting or significant thing you’ve done since graduating?
Honestly, it is hard to choose. I have been fortunate to have some pretty amazing moments in my seven-year archival career. My most recent experience occurred at my last job where I was the education outreach coordinator for the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. I had an opportunity to showcase the Texas Declaration of Independence in the Texas Senate. One thing that made it a surreal experience was I was escorted to the building and into the chamber by a police officer from the Texas Department of Public Safety. They really take their history serious in Texas! The other surreal moment was being swarmed by Texas senators as they geeked out about Texas history. They asked so many questions. At the same time, you have all of these photographers taking pictures of you doing your job.
What are you passionate about in your work?
Engaging with people is the one thing I love. Whether it is doing a program, talking about documents or having conversations with your fellow archivists, that is where I thrive. I said early on in my career that it isn’t enough to process and describe collections for me. I have to take it that next step and tell you about it.
What did you learn while in school at the CIC that still resonates today?
The CIC equipped me to be an archivist. Some of my earlier classes really challenged me to think about archives in a different way. What kind of archivist do I want to be? That is a question I’m still wrestling with today. Some days, I think I have it figured out. Some days, I don’t. Either way, I’m enjoying the experience.
Do you have a favorite professor or a favorite memory from your time at the CIC?
My favorite experience was being a part of the Archival Student Guild. It was defunct for a number of years but about midway through my time at USC, it started to come back. I served as president for about a year. One of my favorite programs we did was a Saturday disaster workshop at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. It was a hands-on workshop that required us to salvage different types of archival material that had been damaged. We performed this part outside. About ten minutes in, it started to rain. Our instructor told us to keep going because sometimes things like that happen. It may be raining but you still have records to save.