Archiving at the Woody Guthrie Center with MSM Student Brooke Dillon


Woody Guthrie is an American musical icon and a controversial activist. A summer internship at Tulsa’s Woody Guthrie Center introduced me to Woody and provided some great archival experience. There, I was learning the procedures to digitize portions of correspondences collection that were all related to Woody Guthrie.

As an intern, I was excited to learn more about Woody and the digitization process, but anxious about the responsibility of handling delicate one-of-a-kind documents. Kate Blalack, who is the Head Archivist of the Woody Guthrie Center, was my mentor through the entire internship. Almost immediately, I assisted Kate in taking down and moving an exhibit from the lobby to the archival room. From the first day, I felt like a member of the team at the Guthrie Center.

The first weeks consisted of getting established with the boxes of collections that were to be digitized, along with setting up a workstation. I learned the proper ways to create digital folders and how to store them. A multitude of documents were digitized, such as letters from his children to longtime friends that he had met in his performing days and even fans who were inspired by him. Afterwards, the following weeks continued to remain the same in digitizing documents, except for picking up the pace when completing a box and noting if there were any missing folders.

I also volunteered to help when the Guthrie Center needed it. Unloading of the John Mellencamp crates into the Woody Guthrie Center was exciting! Taking down Velcro straps off the wall off an exhibit… not exciting but necessary. By the end of summer, I was able to process six boxes of documents that were all digitized. This internship taught me a lot about both archival work and Woody. He was looked up to by many people for his music and his words. Overall, this experience was very positive. Getting practical experience and handling amazing documents made a great internship. I look forward to expanding my knowledge in museums this year.

Museum Science and Management Student Brooke Dillon