"Pursuing an internship with the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center was one of the best decisions I made during my time in the UW Museology program....I solidified my classroom knowledge through hands-on experience, gained confidence in my abilities as a professional, and contributed to the well-being of an institution for which I have enormous respect."
Knowing I was still in need of two internship credits in order to graduate, I was constantly keeping my eyes and ears open for opportunities. However, when I heard Illana Kennedy speak in the fall Museum Education class, everything fell into place. As director of education for the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center (WSHERC), Kennedy detailed the numerous ways WSHERC memorializes the victims and celebrates the survivors of the Holocaust. I knew this was an organization with which I wanted to work.
With a mission to “inspire teaching and learning for humanity in the schools and communities of this region through study of the Holocaust,” WSHERC serves the community in numerous ways. One of the greatest projects the Center takes on is the creation and distribution of “Teaching Trunks.” Similar to “Burke Boxes,” Teaching Trunks are sent to instructors to help them explain the Holocaust to their students through specifically chosen books, replicas, and various activities. Additionally, WSHERC offers an extensive library of books, as well as audio and visual resources that are available to the public. During my brief time at the WSHERC, I witnessed their attempt to expand their resource center through the creation of a DVD commemorating the stories of Holocaust survivors now living in Washington. However, one of the most daunting tasks, and arguably one of the most important, facing WSHERC is the care of the Center’s countless collections. Donated by Holocaust survivors or their families, WSHERC’s collection includes everything from letters, passports, and photographs to Stars of David, prisoner uniforms, and their most recent acquisition, several accordions played by prisoners in their attempts to save their lives.
With my work experience in the Henry Art Gallery, it was decided I could best serve the Center by working with their extensive collections. My goals from this internship were to become more familiar with the Museological database Past Perfect as well as improve my overall collection management skills. Additionally, I wanted to increase my research skills and my understanding of how finding aids are created for artifacts. With these goals in mind, WSHERC Director Dee Simon and two collections managers, Kelly and Roberta, gave me the opportunity to work with three amazing collections. These collections consisted of satirical cartoons of Nazi death camps, a collection of over 300 letters between family members in Germany and those who had escaped, and a collection with a wide array of items consisting of everything from photographs and letters to record albums and medals. With these collections, I assigned accession numbers, completed condition reports, and selected search terms for when the artifact is entered into the database. I also had the opportunity to familiarize myself with Past Perfect, searching through their digital collections and observing Kelly’s procedure for entering information.
 “What are teaching trunks?” Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center, http://www.wsherc.org/teaching/trunks/teachingtrunks.aspx (Accessed on March 3, 2011).