June 25, 2022

Angie Kemp: History Handler

Digital Resources Librarian Angie Kemp

Digital Resources Librarian Angie Kemp

Angie Kemp ’11 can trace the history of the University of Mary Washington through her own family tree. Her great-grandmother graduated in 1925, when the school was known as the Fredericksburg State Teachers College. Nearly six decades later, her grandmother decided to pursue a bachelor of liberal studies degree after raising her children.

“There has actually been at least one Mary Washington student in my family in every generation,” said Kemp, who joined UMW Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives team as a digital resources librarian in 2017.

Kemp, who majored in history, built a strong foundation in research, writing and information literacy, and developed a passion for preservation through an internship with the Papers of James Monroe. After earning her diploma, she completed a master’s degree in library and information science online through the University of Alabama while working at the University of Richmond. “I loved the idea of providing free access to historic materials and resources.”

During American Archives Month in October – and throughout the year – Kemp’s current job gives her the chance to straddle Mary Washington’s past, present and future, all at once. She has digitally preserved old artifacts – such as the 1668 Bible on which George Washington swore an oath to the Freemasons – as well as modern ones like social media posts, videos, web pages and PDFs. As manager of the Digital Archiving Lab, she teaches students and faculty how to maintain their own electronic records.

“These collections could be used tomorrow or 200 years from now,” Kemp said. “My goal is to make sure they are accessible for researchers for generations to come.”

Q: What can you tell us about the Call to Contribute: Documenting COVID-19 project?
A: It’s an effort to record the impact of the pandemic on the UMW community. We have virtual performances and lectures, individual stories, and official campus messages and guidelines. Our project information page and submission form are available for anyone who wants to contribute.

Q: What’s an interesting Mary Washington artifact that you have handled?
A: We digitized a 1940s scrapbook that had photos of the Mary Washington Cavalry, a group of riders who could provide aid and assist with communications when there was an emergency in the Fredericksburg area. It sent me on a research mission to learn more about campus life during World War II.

Q: Your team recently archived the LGBTQ+ Alumni Oral History Collection. Are there others?
A: We have collections for Friends of the Rappahannock and Mary Washington Health Care. Our next addition, which will include stories by World War II veterans, will be available soon.

Q: What’s most rewarding about your job?
A: Helping people with their projects, which range from assisting with research to guiding them as they build their own collections. It’s amazing to see the finished products.

Q: Most challenging?
A: Keeping up with the growth of digital content.

Q: What’s your favorite thing in your office?
A: We keep the temperature cool for the materials, so my sister crocheted a cozy shawl that keeps me warm. 

Q: What’s your motto?
A: Be kind. It’s simple but makes a big difference.