Straight to the Source: Archives and AMCS

At an AMCS alumni event I was unsure of my summer 2018 plans. With the help of AMCS alumnus Kelsey Johnston, I ended up with a fantastic experience working as an archival intern for The L-A-D Foundation in downtown St. Louis. Named after the initials of its founder Leo A. Drey, the non-profit manages and protects over 150,000 acres of land in the Ozarks. I was tasked with attempting to make a functioning archive out of their historical documents, which included early organization photographs, correspondence about land acquisition, abstracts from the early 20th century, and much more.

With an interest in pursuing library and archive sciences as a future career, I was excited by the opportunity to dive into the L-A-D Foundation’s history. From the materials, I learned all sorts of things such as the forces behind the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Leo Drey’s many philanthropic ventures, and the value of Missouri’s gorgeous forests and rivers. Plus, I know more about the forestry industry than I could have ever imagined I would.

Perhaps most valuable was the expansion of my familiarity with work regarding historical documents. I learned how to catalog and protect everything in the archive, and worked with Mizzou’s esteemed history professor Susan Flader to help make the organization’s history accessible to those looking to dive in. My experience with the L-A-D Foundation furthered my interest in historical research and enabled me to continue learning with an internship with the ACLU of Missouri in the fall. The AMCS community has been so supportive of my archival work, and I’m grateful for the department’s encouragement to continue exploring American history by going straight to the source.