My time at the RAC has been anything but boring. I remember my first day passing by a few charming used book shops, a second hand clothing store with a statue of the headless horseman, while the smell of incense drifted from a psychic parlor into my nostrils. Because of its quirks and oddities, Tarrytown feels like a village that has been trapped in time. As I drove up the long-winding roads to the Archive Center, I felt a sense of calm in the still air.

I stood in awe in the front room under the 200 ton marble statue of John D. Rockefeller. I wandered the halls and found myself in the “Powder room” (which today is the “lactation room”) standing over a fainting couch. I could’ve spent days, years, a lifetime perhaps, exploring the art and memorabilia in the building- but unfortunately I couldn’t, it was time to get to work! I was greeted by many kind and smiling faces of the staff, including Rachel Wimpee (the intern coordinator). Under her lead, I began several projects simultaneously (again, never a dull moment!).

My co-worker Andrea Cadornigara showed me how to digitize some of the Rockefeller’s travel albums. The images were beautiful, strange, and mysterious, even a bit spooky sometimes. I lost time looking through the albums of various excursions and philanthropic pursuits in Venezuela. To my surprise, I discovered an old fax between one of the Rockefellers and Bill Gates, sepia-toned images of Rockefellers networking, even some books with dated language (they were being removed). What I found appealing about the RAC’s approach is that they prioritize being as transparent and objective in their work as possible. From processing to access to research, cultural competency is certainly a priority. Considering that philanthropic organizations can over-exaggerate their pursuits in order to come across in a certain way or virtue-signal, it made me appreciate the RAC that much more. The staff members hold each other accountable to certain standards in an effort to produce research tools that acknowledge possible bias in an attempt to uplift the communities that they are part of.

Some of my tasks included looking for peacock language (aka. unnecessary touting of the individuals and overly idealistic language) in the published works. Some other projects that I assisted with was adding alt-text for the digital images shared on the RE:source website. Emeline Swanson, one of the Collections Management archivists, set me up with a project archiving and logging in books from a Rockefeller collection. I was given a certain amount of independencewhile tackling these projects, which gave me a sense of freedom during my internship. For the Alt-Text, I did my own research on how to be as objective as possible when creating these descriptions. I wanted to consider all possible audiences, including those who are visually impaired (I remembered The Whitney created programs to make visual artwork more accessible to blind people). I felt a sense of pride in bringing all of my experiences to the table at the RAC. It was particularly fun to be able to collaborate and learn from other staff members and researchers at the center.

One of the most important things from my time at the Archive Center was learning to always ask questions. This is something that has been intimidating to me in the past, as I feared it would make me look un-knowledgeable. Funny enough, I’ve learned that this is single-handedly the easiest and quickest way to learn and connect with others. A healthy dose of curiosity and vulnerability is all it takes to grow as a worker but more so as a person, a friend, a human of the world. I’ll never forget my time at the RAC, as it introduced me to the archival profession. It gave me valuable skills and experience that I hope to carry over to my future endeavors, personally and professionally, whatever that may be.