by Scottie Kapel, Head Editor, INALJ Oregon
Interview with Lauren Swain Mosley, archivist at Jacksonville Historical Society
Lauren Swain Mosley is the archivist for the Jacksonville Historical Society. She began working at the institution as an intern while pursuing her master’s in history and continued volunteering at the JHS Archives after completing her degree. Her hard work and enthusiasm paid off, and Lauren was eventually offered the archivist position. Lauren is a great example of how volunteer experience can benefit you in your job hunt, and she’s one heck of a volunteer/intern supervisor — I know because she was mine!
Did you know when you were completing your M.A. in history that you wanted to work in archives?
That’s a difficult question to answer! I loved research and I loved archives and enjoyed the process of researching in various institutions. If I had been asked if I would enjoy working in an archive or a library, the answer would have been a definite yes! Those were always on my list of strong possibilities, yet, I wouldn’t necessarily have said that was my ultimate goal or reason for pursuing the degree.
What does a typical day at the Jacksonville Historical Society look like for you?
In theory, on a typical day I’m going through collections that haven’t been processed, putting them into archival boxes, etc., and cataloguing them. In reality I also do a lot of volunteer/intern management, paperwork, and help the public with research questions. We have a very small staff and we are primarily a public history institution, so frequently we have special events and exhibits occurring. On those days I could be using the collections for public display, giving tours, going offsite to deal with other institutions, discussing the archives on our television show, etc. Generally things are pretty consistent and quiet and I’m either working on collections or answering research requests, but often I am doing all sorts of different jobs. I’m most intimidated and most excited when I’m doing and learning something new and challenging.
What has been the most interesting record you’ve come across in your time at the Jacksonville Historical Society?
My favorite is a scrapbook/photo album called the Kellogg Album. The book is an interesting combination of photographs taken in the 1870’s that were used by E. B. Kellogg, the creator of the scrapbook, to make stereographs for tourists during the height of Jacksonville’s tourist era. In addition to all the photographs, which are essentially highlights of northeast Florida’s most popular things to see and do during that time period, are drawings, poems, and other miscellaneous things made or collected by Kellogg. They’re really intriguing because it gives tiny clues as to who Kellogg was, and some of the drawings are quite good. I haven’t figured out if he is related to the famous Kellogg brother lithographers of the same time period, but I like to imagine that his drawings and photography are quite special. Either way it is a very interesting record with great photographs.
Favorite library and/or archive you have visited?
I don’t have a concrete answer other than to say that my favorite type of archive is any small, Southern courthouse where none of the employees really know what records they have and everyone is friendly, welcoming, and interested in what is discovered.
What is your dream job and why?
A job with a lot of flexibility, challenges, and something I take satisfaction in. I know it is a little much to say “My dream job is a job where I’ll be happy,” but that honestly is it. Every job is going to have some bad days, but overall I want a job that improves and adds to my life rather than makes me feel like I’m being drained every day.
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Anything positive and adventurous that gives me a refreshed perspective on life.
Any advice for job hunters?
I don’t think I’m the person to give advice, however, I’ll say what I think I sometimes need to hear: Enjoy the ride, even when you don’t want to. Don’t get so bogged down in worrying about your job that you forget the good things in your life. I believe that if you’re positive, good things are more likely to happen in your life, but even if they don’t you won’t mind nearly as much and you’ll be happy in the meantime.