Meet your Treasurer: Sean Mulligan

Sean Mulligan photoWhat jobs have you had in the archival realm?
I was hired in November 2008 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) to work as an archivist. In that position, I have primarily focused on processing and managing University Archives records. However, I have also had experience with processing several manuscript collections. Additionally, I have served as the Chair of the Staff Development Committee at Jackson Library at UNCG since 2012 and was the Chair of the Triad Area Library Association Paraprofessional Conference Planning Committee from 2016-2018.

What is your educational background?

  • Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (December 2018)
  • Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (December 2014)
  • Master of Library Science (Archival Studies) from the University of Maryland (May 2008)
  • Bachelor of Arts (History) from the University of Virginia (May 2005)

What is your favorite part of your job and what do you consider to be the most important part of your job?
What I love most about working in the University Archives is discovering unique items that have been “hidden” from the public and bringing them to light. One my favorite exhibits that I put together focused on various historical signatures we had within our collections. This included letters and documents signed by Thomas Jefferson, Helen Keller, Booker T. Washington, and many others. It was fascinating to me to see just how many "famous" people we had letters from.

I think one of the most important aspects of my job is providing reference help to patrons in answering their information needs. I want them to have a pleasant experience in the archives and hopefully they will return in the future if they ever need to. Unfortunately, sometimes the information they are seeking just isn’t within our collections, and it is never fun having to let them know that.

Tell us about something you're particularly proud of from your job or your institution.
One thing that I am particularly proud of is our effort to have all of our collections represented online in some fashion so that the public knows of their existence. When I began in 2008, we had a massive backlog of materials that were essentially hidden from the public. Utilizing MPLP, we were able to create online records for all of them. While they may only be minimally processed, I think it is more important to let others know of their existence than to have them fully processed.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?
My advice to someone looking for a career in archives, specifically in University Archives, would be to conduct informational interviews with people already in the profession to learn more. I remember how much of a shock I felt upon graduating from library school and then seeing the reality of archives. I thought everything would be nearly in order and that all collections would have nice, complete finding aids, etc. I was very eye-opening to see the reality versus literature. I think talking with other archivists will help them have a better sense of archives and allow them to build connections within the archival community.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?
Having served at the SNCA Treasurer since 2014, my hope is to continue making sound financial decisions for SNCA and to keep the organization fiscally solvent during the year.

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New movie-making digital collection at New Hanover County Public Library

Contributed by Travis Souther

Stunt Clean-Up photo

Stunt Clean-Up (Image courtesy of New Hanover County Public Library, North Carolina Room)

The New Hanover County Public Library has started a new digital exhibit highlighting Wilmington and southeastern North Carolina’s role in the film and television industry.  The exhibit is still in its infancy with less than 70 digital artifacts, but it features images and newspaper clippings from or about multiple moving pictures.  The collection is available at:  Stay tuned to their website for more images to come.

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New accessions at ECU Manuscript Collection

Contributed by Dale Sauter

Millie-Christine McCoy Photograph #1340

Circa 1900 cabinet photograph of the conjoined twins Millie-Christine McCoy (1851-1912), who were born as African-American slaves in Columbus County, North Carolina.  Photograph was taken by Frank Wendt, Boonton, New Jersey, and is autographed on verso by Millie-Christine.

Stuart Wright Collection: Stuart Wright Papers #1169-039, Addition #5

Stuart Wright manuscript materials, mostly galley pages, some with marginalia. Materials are related to his biography of Andrew Lytle and to the Colonel Heros von Bourcke Journal.  Transferred from Z. Smith Reynolds Library, Wake Forest University.

Disciples of Christ Congo Mission (DCCM) Photograph Album #1341

Photograph album documents missionary life in Bolenge, Congo Free State (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), at the Disciples of Christ Congo Mission in 1935 and 1936.  Photographs also illustrate everyday life among the Congolese natives.

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Meet your President: Kelly Wooten

Kelly Wooten photoWhat jobs have you had in the archival realm?
I’ve been the Research Services and Collection Development Librarian for the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture since 2006, and while it’s not the only job I’ve had in libraries, it is the only job I’ve had in archives.

What is your educational background?
I have a BA in English Literature and Women’s Studies and an MS in Library Science, both from UNC Chapel Hill.

What is your favorite part of your job and what do you consider to be the most important part of your job?
I love working with students of all levels (including Girls Rock NC campers in elementary school, Duke undergraduates and graduate students from all over the world) in the classroom and as researchers in the reading room. I lead workshops to share about my work documenting women’s, girls’ and LGBTQ+ history particularly through our zine collections. I enjoy doing this outreach work because it helps people learn about the archives as well as seeing themselves as important creators of history when they make their own zines.

Tell us about something you're particularly proud of from your job or your institution.
I was humbled to be recently honored with the the Blue Ribbon Diversity Award at Duke University in recognition of my work documenting women’s and LGBTQ+ history as well as my leadership with the Duke University Libraries’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. I’m very glad to be part of an organization that values working towards creating a more inclusive and diverse historical record and environment for library workers and visitors.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?
The relationships I built with archivists, librarians, and other library workers at different institutions have been the most important part of my education while I was in graduate school and for my ongoing professional development. I have been fortunate to work with colleagues who are generous with their time, energy, and expertise and have been invested in bringing along new professionals in the field. My advice is to seek out people working in archives or related areas and build meaningful connections with them.

Who has been key to shaping your professional outlook?
My colleagues at the Rubenstein Library are too numerous to list by name, but I have learned so much from them during my time here. I am inspired by the writings of Michelle Caswell and Marika Cifor about radical empathy in archival practice and by the work of the women who participated with me on a panel on that topic at the Society of American Archivists meeting in 2016. I have also built a practice of feminist pedagogy based on the work of Maria Accardi.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?
I’m excited to start work on developing a strategic plan with our board to help give us a longer-term view of our goals as an organization.

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Introducing the Student Spotlight Series

Contributed by Erin Gallagher

Archival students produce extensive and often integral work through their internships, field experiences, and school projects. They contribute supplemental project support, lead projects, and create and update workflows to support a variety of institutions. To highlight the work that archival students create, the Society of North Carolina Archivists is starting a Student Spotlight blog series through the SNCA newsletter.

I thought that a blog series showcasing the vital work in which archival students engage would be an interesting way to get to know and connect with the student population of the SNCA community. By showcasing the work produced by archival student workers, the entire North Carolina archives community gets to meet these future archivists.

Additionally, when we share our experiences, no matter where we are in our careers, we learn from one another and add to the profession. Personally, I find that the most informative accounts often explore the problems encountered during projects. These write-ups tend to highlight how archivists draw from their experiences and develop innovative skills to overcome those obstacles.

My goal for this series is to highlight the important work of archival students across the state of North Carolina. It is important to me in the position of Second Member at Large to provide a space for students to share the important work that they’re doing and to introduce current professionals to their soon-to-be colleagues.

NCSU SCRC blog photoI was inspired to start this blog series from the Meet the Members newsletter series, introducing the Executive Board members to the North Carolina archiving community. Also, a blog post from North Carolina State University’s Special Collection Research Center (SCRC) blog series, Space Showcase, acted as an influence for this series. The posts in the SCRC’s series highlight the digital team, including the contributions of former fellows and student interns. This photo was taken for a post, featuring me processing disks for archival storage. You can read that post here:

Any recent work, internships, or interesting school projects are welcome additions to the Student Spotlight series. If you have any questions comments or concerns, please feel free to contact me at

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Archives Month: Lake Junaluska

Contributed by Sarah Downing

Lake Junaluska, situated amidst the verdant mountains of Haywood County, hosted its first grand assembly in 1913. Its beginning can be traced five years earlier at a meeting of the Layman’s Missionary Movement held in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A resolution was passed calling for the Methodist Episcopal Church, South to create “a great assembly ground” that would be used “for the gathering together of our forces” at appropriate times, as well as being improved to allow for conferences and institutes and to allow for “the general upbuilding of the Church.”

Lake Junaluska and auditorium. Alexander Inn Collection, WRA.

A committee was appointed and locations discussed. Among those considered were Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, and Lake Toxaway in North Carolina; East Tennessee; and a spot in Tidewater, Virginia near the growing resort of Virginia Beach. A group of organizers created a corporation and issued stock. A dam was created over Richland Creek to form Lake Junaluska.

By 1913, in addition to the auditorium and public services building, a dozen or so cottages were in various stages of construction, with their owners from the Carolinas and Tennessee but also as far away as Mississippi. Development was slow and there were many setbacks, but the construction of cottages and inns continued, and a tradition of summering at Lake Junaluska began.

During the Great Depression, the Assembly went bankrupt but received funding from the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In 1936, a successful campaign was undertaken to raise money to pay off the mortgage. The General Conference agreed to take over the property, provided it remain mortgage-free. In 1939, after the reunification of the southern and northern offshoots, the assembly became the property of the Methodist Church.

Today, visitors can stay in a variety of accommodations at Lake Junaluska, including cottages, inns, lodges, and a campground. Sojourners make their way to the historic gathering spot to attend conferences, events, or for personal respite. Lake Junaluska is headquarters of the World Methodist Council and home to the World Methodist Museum.

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Meet your Publications Chair: Jennifer Coggins

Coggins photoWhat jobs have you had in the archival realm?
In 2014, I began serving as Records Services Archivist in the University Archives at UNC Chapel Hill, and in 2016 became the Collections Management and Engagement Archivist there.

What is your educational background?
I have a BA in history from Wofford College and an MSLS with a concentration in Archives and Records Management from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2017, I completed a graduate certificate in Digital Public Humanities from George Mason University.

What is your favorite part of your job and what do you consider to be the most important part of your job?
My favorite part is engaging people with university history - whether on social media, at events around campus, or in the reading room. I think that work is one of the most important aspects of my job, too.

Tell us about something you're particularly proud of from your job or your institution.
Last year the University Archives partnered with the Carolina Playmakers to produce Voices from the Archives, a performance of readings from our collections. We selected letters, editorials, administrative records and more that highlighted a diverse array of student experiences and perspectives from the late 18th century to the present. It was fantastic seeing actors bring these documents to life on stage and a powerful exploration of student life.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?
I recommend talking with as many people working in the field as you can. Everyone has different perspectives and experiences that can inform your thinking and practice.

Who has been key to shaping your professional outlook?
I have learned and continue to learn from the many experienced, thoughtful, dedicated archivists and public historians I’ve met through my work at UNC Chapel Hill as well as through SNCA, SAA, and NCPH.  In my professional reading, I look to those who are working to make library spaces, collections, and services more inclusive and representative of the communities they serve.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?
As publications chair, I look forward to collaborating with the rest of the publications team and my fellow board members to expand the reach of our online presence and use these platforms to promote connection and collaboration across the state.

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Archives Month: Lake Tahoma

Contributed by Sarah Downing

Lake Tahoma, located between Mount Mitchell and the town of Marion, was created in 1924 by a group of local investors interested in land development. The lake’s water supply is Buck Creek and Little Buck Creek, and early on, it was described as a “recreational place of remarkable attractiveness.” A stone pavilion, known as the casino, was built over the lake where summer visitors could watch speedboat races or dance to orchestra music provided by local and regional ensembles. A power plant generated electricity which was sold to the National Utilities Company, supplier of power to the town of Marion.

The casino at Lake Tahoma, Blue Ridge Heritage Area Scrapbook, WRA, circa 1940

In 1929, R. M. Mead of Cleveland, Ohio, and a group of associates purchased the lake with the intentions of improving the casino, building a hotel, adding a golf course, and transforming the area into a “sportsman’s paradise.” Mead served as president of the Lake Development Corporation, and local men served as officers with the firm. However, the project dried up, so to speak, with the Great Depression. Investors lost money and the hotel was left unfinished along its shores. The power plant was purchased by Duke. The property was sold at foreclosure and became part of the Kinstler estate, since A. M. Kinstler was one of the original investors.

The construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway, in close proximity to Lake Tahoma, sparked new interest in the lake. The Lutheran Church considered buying the property for a summer assembly. In 1945, Gov. R. Gregg Cherry set up a commission of men from McDowell, Burke, and other nearby counties to study the possibility of obtaining the property to establish a state park.

The property was later purchased by a group of investors and businessmen, who formed the Lake Tahoma Corporation. The organization issued stocks and established restrictions for developing lots in the area.

Today, Lake Tahoma and the surrounding property is privately owned and is administered and maintained by a homeowner’s association.

Sources: “Big Lake Development Sold,” Marion Progress, August 29, 1929. “Commission Named,” The Evening Telegram, May 16, 1945.
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Meet your 1st Member At Large: Leah Kerr

Kerr photoWhat job(s) have you had in the archival realm?
Currently I'm a Processing Archivist for the Rubenstein Library at Duke University. Previously, I lived in Los Angeles and was a digital archivist for REVOLT TV, a project coordinator for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, and the first archivist for the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum.

What is your educational background?
I got my Masters in Moving Image Archive Studies from UCLA and a B.S. in Psychology from Colorado State University.

What is your favorite part of your job and what do you consider to be the most important part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is discovering an object, a field, a fact, a person, or even a place I'd never heard of previously. I am very happy that I can often highlight that new knowledge to enlighten others who may have never heard of it either. I find two different areas important about my job. The first may be the obvious: saving history for inquiring minds in the future. The second is related: interesting others in doing the work of saving history.

Tell us about something you're particularly proud of from your job or your institution.
I’m proud that the Rubenstein Library has taken on the mission of increasing diversity in the workforce and collections. This effort will continue with a focus on accessibility and also increasing equity and inclusion.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?
My advice would be to keep an open mind and bring all of your skills and interests into the profession. I started as a moving image archivist but soon found myself arranging and describing movie posters, books, and manuscripts. I would never have guessed that I’d currently be working with an author’s collection, but I’m glad my legal assistant and writing background helps me to understand the publishing process and gives me a familiarity with the materials I’m now processing.

Who has been key to shaping your professional outlook?
Every mentor I’ve had has helped me to navigate the profession. My professors, supervisors from internships, colleagues from graduate school, and certainly my coworkers each offer insight into envisioning the profession and my place in it. These folks are instrumental both in helping me to move forward in my career and in approaching an archival challenge. I frequently turn to them for inspiration and answers. Because of the assistance I’ve received, I am happy to mentor others to encourage them into the field and to be of help in any way possible.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?
As the Member at Large, I'd like to learn what the membership finds important and effectively have those concerns addressed by either the Regional Archival Associations Consortium, the Society of American Archivists, and anywhere else where I'm representing SNCA.

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New University Archivist at ECU

Alston Cobourn is proud to be East Carolina University’s new University Archivist as of July.  She is from Raleigh and attended UNC-Chapel Hill, where she earned an undergraduate degree in English with minors in Creative Writing and Journalism.  She worked in the Metadata and Cataloging department at NC State’s D.H. Hill Library for four years while completing an MLS (also at Chapel Hill).  During this time, she served as the chair of SNCA’s membership committee, which enabled her to meet many archival colleagues across the state.  After finishing her Masters, she moved to Virginia and worked as Digital Scholarship Librarian at Washington and Lee University, providing outreach about scholarly communications issues such as copyright, author’s rights, and open access to the campus community, leading an implementation of ArchivesSpace, and working with faculty and students on digital humanities projects.  From there she moved to Texas to assume the role of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Processing and Digital Assets Archivist.  She is deeply thankful for the experiences those positions afforded in terms of professional development.  Cobourn is very excited to be back in North Carolina and to be a part of SNCA again and looks forward to interacting with both familiar and new faces in the coming years.  Contact info: Welcome back, Alston!

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