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Career Spotlight : Historical Researcher / Archivist

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Lynette is 26, and attended Trent University (1995-1999) for her BA in history and English, and Algonquin College (1999-2001) for her archival technician diploma. She has also taken history seminars at Carleton University. Currently she is on contract at the National Archives of Canada, working on the development of a Web site for the William Lyon Mackenzie King diaries.

Stephanie: What made you decide to become a historical researcher/archivist? How did you become a historical researcher/archivist?
Lynette:
My interest in research and historical documents started in high school and from there I looked into it a bit more and found out that there was actually a job where you got to work with the types of material I was interested in.

To become a historical researcher, which is an archivist-level position, I did an honours BA in history and then did an archival technician program at college. While you can be an archival techinician with only a college diploma, the minimum requirement for my current position was a BA in history. To get a permanent position and be fully considered an archivist, I would need to get my MA in history, which I am planning to do.

Stephanie: What do you like about your job?
Lynette:
I like being able to use original documents to conduct research, and I like finding out details and information that improve or change the way in which something is perceived and presented. Making information available is one of the keys of any archives mandate, and doing detailed research allows for a larger amount of information to be available.

Stephanie: What is your least favourite part of the job?
Lynette:
Allergies can get in the way. Mould and dust are encountered a lot. Also, the research can be very time-consuming. I once spent days reading through letters and diaries trying to determine when two people first met - I never really did find out. The letters were dated only with the day of the week, no month or year.

Stephanie: What advice do you have for someone considering becoming a historical researcher/archivist?
Lynette:
Volunteering is a very good place to start. I did some volunteer work while I was working on my BA, and it gave me a background in the operations of an archive and shows your interest in the field while you are gaining experience that can prove to be essential later on.

Stephanie: What kind of an education do you need to be a historical researcher/archivist?
Lynette:
A master's degree in archival science or history is preferred. There are other people I work with who come from a library science and other backgrounds. Earning a BA would be a minimum requirement, and I would think that history would be the best subject to major in.

Stephanie: What kind of education did you get?
Lynette:
I have an honours BA, with a major in history and a minor in English literature. Then I did a diploma program to become an archival technician. My next step is to get my MA in history.

Stephanie: What is your favourite book?
Lynette:
'The Danger Tree' by David MacFarlane.


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