Alanna Griffin-Bales ’14
When Alanna Griffin-Bales was looking to transfer from University of New Hampshire after two years of study, the reputation of the history department was the deciding factor for where she would go.
"I knew that Keene State had a solid history program, that it produced some great thinkers and was a really active community," she said. "So I immediately wanted to be a part of it. And of course the classes they offered were just right up my alley." For example, she said, the classes on the Vietnam War and the American Revolution, and others she wanted to take such as History of Families and Women in Medieval History.
"Everyone thinks that history is so linear, but it’s really interconnected," she said. "You can learn so much looking at history through different aspects, and everyone is a historian, it’s just how you look at things."
Along the way, Griffin-Bales had the chance to participate in an internship through the history program with four or five other history majors transcribing an 18th century property ledger.
"The Blanchard Property Ledger was from the 1800s and basically outlines areas of land in our area and in and around Manchester and down through Mass.," she said. "And so we would go back and research how to read 18th century handwriting. We went up to the state archives and talked to the people there and learned a lot about what it means to be an archivist. So we were really interactive with the archivists there and then we just spent a lot of time reading through the ledger—I think it was a hundred pages of this property ledger, making charts, it was great."
In addition to tackling the daunting task of reading 18th century handwriting, ( "We had to basically relearn the alphabet," she said.) the experience was a crash course in how to be an archivist, including how to preserve documents and what it’s like to work with old documents.
"We’re lucky that here in New Hampshire we have such a rich history that we were able to do this," she said. "Also, we learned how to collaborate with a group, how to reach out to professionals who do this, and really what you can do with a history degree."