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High school intern makes, preserves history at University Archives

IU Libraries University Archives hired its first high school intern, Cora Deemer, last school year, and the recent graduate from Bloomington High School North has helped the institution archive images and research information for some important collections.

IU University Archives photograph curator Brad Cook searches a 1907 commencement program to help ... IU University Archives photograph curator Brad Cook searches a 1907 commencement program to help Cora Deemer identify individuals in a reunion photo from 1947 as she enters the photograph into the Archives Photograph Collection. Photo by James Brosher

University Archives is renowned for its dedication to collecting, preserving and providing access to a wide range of materials that document Indiana University’s rich history, activities and achievements. Its vast holdings include official records, personal papers, manuscripts, photographs, audiovisual materials and digital records that cover various facets of IU such as academics, student life, athletics, research and cultural events. It serves as a valuable resource for researchers, students, faculty, staff, alumni and the public for scholarly research.

Photograph curator Brad Cook said University Archives usually only hires graduate students, particularly those in the Archives and Records Management program, Rare Books and Manuscripts program, or related fields such as history and folklore. However, Bloomington High School North approached Cook about an internship opportunity for Deemer, who expressed her interest in working with the photo archives.

During her internship, which started in the fall, Deemer has been undertaking a range of responsibilities, including scanning, editing, cataloging and conducting thorough research on images for the archives’ collections.

“I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to be the first high school intern at the archives because it allowed me to step outside the confines of a classroom and engage in work that I genuinely enjoy,” Deemer said. “Being involved in the same projects as graduate students was not only exhilarating but also an extraordinary chance for a high schooler like me.”

Cook said Deemer has been diligently scanning negatives from the 1950s. She has also successfully completed scanning the remaining images of renowned World War II journalist Ernie Pyle and members of his family that hadn’t yet been digitized.

However, Cook said the highlight of her work lies in her remarkable efforts to digitize a substantial portion of the Arthur Metz Photograph Collection containing World War I images by Alpheus B. Streedain.

Deemer said the project combined her passion for history and photography, giving her an appreciation for the impact of preserving historical narratives through photographs.

Cora Deemer, a recent graduate from Bloomington High School North, scans a photograph into the Ar... Cora Deemer, a recent graduate from Bloomington High School North, scans a photograph into the Archives Photograph Collection in the Wells Library. Photo by James Brosher

“The project revolved around a captivating collection of photos capturing an American military hospital in France known as Base Hospital 13,” she said. “I conducted extensive research on the photographer behind these captivating images, Alpheus B. Streedain.”

Cook said Deemer has scanned, created records and entered metadata for approximately 400 different images.

“Immediate plans for the images are to have them available in our online collections,” Cook said. “Having the images in our online collections then facilitates others in the world to find images for their projects (books, articles, exhibitions and documentaries). There is always the possibility that we here at the IU Archives, or others within IU, will use the images for exhibits and other projects.”

Deemer said she’s proud of her contributions to University Archives.

“I played a part in expanding the online collection of photos, making it even more comprehensive and invaluable for research purposes,” she said.

As Deemer has progressed in her internship, which will wrap up at the end of the summer, she said she experienced personal and professional growth. She attributes a lot of it to Cook’s mentorship and his willingness to share his three decades of experience.

“Brad imparted upon me all the essential knowledge required to feel confident in the task of cataloging photos,” Deemer said. “He consistently reviewed the photos I cataloged, providing me with valuable feedback and pointing out areas for improvement.”

She said her experience also has sharpened her research skills, such as attention to detail, and deepened her passion for history and documentation.

With her newfound knowledge and experience, Deemer said she looks forward to continuing her contribution to the field of archival work. She has an interest in pursuing a career as a photojournalist and will attend Augustana College in Illinois, where she will major in multimedia journalism and graphic design.

The experience University Archives has had with Deemer has opened doors for future high school interns.

“We will try to consider another high school intern in the future,” Cook said.

Nisha Lalria is an intern in the Office of the Vice President for Communications and Marketing.