In February, the Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS) welcomed Matty Marrow as the most recent Building Knowledge and Breaking Barriers (BKBB) Archives Intern.
Marrow’s internship was part of PHS’s multi-year collaboration with Community College of Philadelphia (CCP). The BKBB grant project started in 2017 and grew out of the belief that PHS could create meaningful firsthand encounters between CCP students and historically resonant documents, build research and critical-thinking skills important to student success in academic and vocational pursuits and identify ways to assist Philadelphia students and educators more after the grant ended.
Since 2017, PHS has welcomed hundreds of CCP students to the archives, curated digital resources for the classroom (hosted on the project’s website) and worked with a panel of seven CCP students to install an exhibit at PHS. The BKBB Archives Internship provided CCP students a chance to work in PHS’s collections and gain training and experience in the field. Marrow’s internship was made possible through funds raised during PHS’s 2020 Giving Tuesday campaign.
Marrow was the first BKBB Intern to join the PHS staff since Covid building restrictions ended. Marrow grew up Presbyterian, recently graduated with an Associate’s Degree in English from CCP and is currently enrolled as a history major at Penn State University.
Read the edited interview below to learn about Marrow’s experience at PHS.
What initially interested you in an internship at the Presbyterian Historical Society?
M: I grew up Presbyterian, love history, and thought that the internship was a great opportunity to learn more about archives because of my very minimal knowledge of them.
What are some of the projects you worked on?
What did you find surprising about working at an archive?
M: The processes that go on behind the scenes. I’ve never really thought too hard about how researchers get their information, but it was so cool to see in action all that has to happen before a researcher ever sits down with a box of records.
What did you find challenging about the experience?
M: The self-direction. I had to really work on managing my own time and deciding what to work on, for how long, etc. This was really helpful ultimately, though, as I now have a better idea of how long I need for certain projects and what my abilities are. I also had a ton of freedom in choosing what I would work on and again, it was challenging (but fun!) to narrow down what I would research and work on.
How does your experience at PHS help support your professional or educational goals?
M: Being able to take all the things I have worked on with me and have tangible proof of my abilities is really invaluable in today's world. Along with that, I have built some great connections with many of the people who work here and I’m excited to continue to build those connections and let them watch me grow in this field! It also has really helped me to understand more of my options in the history and archives fields. Going into this I didn’t really know what I could even do in an archive or how they worked. Now, I’m looking more seriously at a future in archival or library work. I also have learned just how much I enjoy research and writing about the things that interest me!
How would you describe your internship to a confirmation class at the church you attended growing up?
M: As an opportunity to learn more about what got the church to where it is now. It’s interesting to look at the future of the church through its past. That was something that I never really thought of when I was going through confirmation and exploring what being Presbyterian is.
How do you think/hope Presbyterians should engage with their history?
M: In general, I don’t think a lot of Presbyterians interact with their history much, if at all. My hope is that Presbyterians take their history into account and realize that there is a history to be studied and taught.
Any additional reflections?
M: I literally loved being at PHS. The worst part and my only complaint is that my internship is over.
Want to learn more about the Building Knowledge and Breaking Barriers project? Click here to visit the project website.