October 25, 2021

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.

UMW Libraries’ Special Collections & University Archives Interviewed on WVTF

UMW librarians Angie Kemp, Carolyn Parsons and Sarah Appleby are assembling a COVID archive for future students and historians.

UMW librarians Angie Kemp, Carolyn Parsons and Sarah Appleby are assembling a COVID archive for future students and historians.

UMW Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives team was recently interviewed by WVTF Radio IQ, an NPR affiliate, about their new initiative, Call to Contribute. The librarians are compiling an archive of COVID-19-related content.

When the school year ends, many teachers and staff take a break, but at the University of Mary Washington, three librarians are busier than ever – creating an archive that will tell the story of COVID-19 on campus. 

As head of UMW’s Special Collections and University Archive, Carolyn Parsons understands how present day documents become history. Read more.

UMW Libraries’ Collection Captures COVID-19 History

Reference Librarian Peter Catlin planned to get married in Virginia Beach in May. But the state’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order canceling public gatherings put a kink in his wedding plans. Instead, after many attempts, the couple got special permission from Fredericksburg’s clerk of circuit court, who married them on the sidewalk outside the city courthouse. The […]

UMW Libraries’ Collection Captures COVID-19 History

UMW Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives team is collecting and digitizing a variety of COVID-19 related materials, from diaries to photos to social media posts. Anna Billingsley, associate vice president for University Relations, submitted a screenshot of her personal blog, “Coronavirus Captivity,” chronicling her experiences working remotely and living during the pandemic.

UMW Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives team is collecting and digitizing a variety of COVID-19 related materials, from diaries to photos to social media posts. Anna Billingsley, associate vice president for University Relations, submitted a screenshot of her personal blog, “Coronavirus Captivity,” chronicling her experiences working remotely and living during the pandemic.

Reference Librarian Peter Catlin was set to get married in Virginia Beach in May. But the state’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order canceling public gatherings put a kink in his wedding plans. Instead, after many attempts, the couple got special permission from Fredericksburg’s clerk of circuit court, who married them on the sidewalk outside the city courthouse.

The nuptials marked the beginning of a life together and, when Catlin typed up his story, something else – a special UMW Libraries initiative named Call to Contribute. “It was a very cool start to the project,” said Records Coordinator Sarah Appleby ’06.

The University’s archiving team likes to dig deep in the past, but its mission is also to gather current experiences so future historians can better understand today. To do that, they are asking the UMW community to help create a record of what lives look like in these days of quarantine, remote learning, hand-sewn masks and Zoom meetings.

“We see history happening, and we have to do something to make sure that doesn’t just go away,” Appleby said of the effort.

The team – Carolyn Parsons ’83, head of Special Collections and University Archives; Angie Kemp ’11, digital resources librarian; and Appleby – will collect and digitize a variety of COVID-19 related materials, from diaries and blogs to artwork and photography. They encourage anyone affiliated with Mary Washington to contribute. Read more.

Contribute COVID-19 Stories to Special Collections and University Archives

Archival materials detailing the University of Mary Washington’s history are used in many research projects. Photo provided by Simpson Library.

Archival materials detailing the University of Mary Washington’s history are used in many research projects. Photo provided by Simpson Library.

Today, we are all finding our way through a crisis that future students and scholars will be studying in the years ahead. We know that it is important to preserve as much of the record as possible for future researchers. Staff in Special Collections and University Archives are archiving the University’s response to COVID-19. However, there are important materials that we cannot collect without your help: individual stories. If you’re a UMW community member and have been keeping a record of these events and how they’ve impacted your life, please consider donating them to University Archives in the future. If you haven’t, please consider this a call to write and help us document this unprecedented global crisis. Read more.

Contribute COVID-19 Stories to Special Collections and University Archives

Archival materials detailing the University of Mary Washington’s history are used in many research projects. Photo provided by Simpson Library.

Archival materials detailing the University of Mary Washington’s history are used in many research projects. Photo provided by Simpson Library.

Today, we are all finding our way through a crisis that future students and scholars will be studying in the years ahead. We know that it is important to preserve as much of the record as possible for future researchers. Staff in Special Collections and University Archives are archiving the University’s response to COVID-19. However, there are important materials that we cannot collect without your help: individual stories. If you’re a UMW community member and have been keeping a record of these events and how they’ve impacted your life, please consider donating them to University Archives in the future. If you haven’t, please consider this a call to write and help us document this unprecedented global crisis. Read more.