By Thomas F. Staley
I recently walked a group of students through our building and watched as they gasped in astonishment at seeing the original, handwritten manuscripts of works they had read and studied in their classes. It is always a pleasure to see students in the Ransom Center, whether they are here for class visits or tours, to conduct research for papers or other projects, or to attend our exhibitions and programs. Students are inspired and enriched by their experiences here, and they often offer us much in return. This fact is clearly evident with our graduate student internship program.
Since 1989, nearly 70 students have been trained through our highly competitive, two-year graduate student internship program. These students come from diverse backgrounds at The University of Texas at Austin. Many of them attend the University's School of Information, but others are students of literature, American Studies, French, Italian, music, history, art history, film, or anthropology. These interns spend their first year working closely with the Ransom Center's public services staff to assist researchers, students, and visitors to our reading room. In their second year, their work broadens, and they often take on additional projects related to their interests and expertise. Our graduate student interns have ably assisted with the curation of exhibitions. They have programmed and developed interactive technology features. They have cataloged collections. They have selected and displayed collection materials for class visits. They have helped write and produce videos for marketing and publicity purposes. I am always impressed with the quality of their contributions and the professionalism with which they approach their work. Their two-year terms feel all too brief when it comes time to say goodbye. Fortunately, so many of our former interns have become our peers and colleagues in the special collections field at such institutions as Harvard University, Princeton University, Stanford University, the New York Public Library, Yale University, the University of Kansas, New York University, the University of Virginia, and even here at the Ransom Center.
We benefit daily from the insightful contributions and diverse backgrounds of our graduate student interns. Their work here enriches the experiences of scholars and other visitors to the Center. But equally important, their contributions often cause their fellow students at the University—who may have never before seen materials like those in our collections—to light up with delight.
—Thomas F. Staley