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An Adventure in the Archives
06.27.11 |
Melissa Zellner ’13, Lehighton, Pa., is spending 12 weeks of her summer interning at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in Harrisburg. The internship was made possible through a grant established earlier this year by Dr. E.H. Arnold H’87 and Dr. Jeanne Donlevy Arnold H’08.

The internship will support this history and historical communications double major’s career aspirations in archives and museum work. She has already had experience as a student researcher with Dr. Michael Schroeder, assistant professor of history, on the Sandino Rebellion in Nicaragua and is a student editor for the Valley Humanities Review.

“I took the Sandino research opportunity to give myself a little more experience on the daily work of an archivist,” she said. “Throughout the school year and now into the summer, I have been carefully organizing and processing 15 cartons worth of primary and secondary documents. This work interested me in archives work, and made me interested in taking it to the next level, and gave me a full understanding of what archivists do and how this can impact researchers. These understandings make me fully appreciate the value of an archive.”

At the historical and museum commission, Zelnner is processing 42 cartons of materials related to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. “This could appear boring to a lot of people, but I’m still finding wonderful pieces of history—from the schematics for the Lehigh Tunnel and a Monopoly prototype of the 50 year anniversary of the Turnpike Commission. Every minute in the archives is an adventure.”

“I love being surrounded by documents that have shaped Pennsylvanian history—from the 1681 Charter from King Charles the Second all the way to today. It is amazing how much has happened in our great Commonwealth—from the Founding Fathers signing the Declaration of Independence, to the Battle of Gettysburg, to our current government, led by an LVC grad, no less! I work every day with these documents, and I help care for them and help researchers find their true worth.”

Zellner says that her coursework adequately prepared her to be successful in archival work. “The classes I have taken this year at LVC have helped me fully appreciate the work of a researcher, as I now have experience writing lengthy research papers. I can definitely see how my classes and professors have been an indispensable resource. I can take what I’ve learned from them and apply them to my internship, my classes at LVC to come, and my future career.”

“The grant is really just a blessing,” Zellner added. “Unpaid internships, while providing a great opportunity, can often prove to be expensive. My hometown is more than two hours from Harrisburg, and if I had had to drive every day, it would have been nearly impossible. With this grant, I can stay at LVC and commute daily to Harrisburg. I can focus on the experience I am having at my internship and truly get the full experience out of it.”

Zellner is the daughter of Thomas and Shelly Zellner and a graduate of Lehighton Area High School.

To learn more about The Edward H. Arnold and Jeanne Donlevy Arnold Program for Experiential Education, visit

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