Monday, August 8, 2016

Building an Exhibition - Jordan Markey, Research Intern, "A University in War and Revolution"

Experience as Research Intern in ‘A University in War and Revolution, 1913 - 1919‘ Project and Exhibition.

Jordan Markey
My name is Jordan Markey. I have just completed a B.A. in History and Geography in NUI Galway and I am currently starting my studies for the M.A. in History here. In the Spring of 2015 I was made aware of a number of exclusive places for undergraduate history students to get involved in an upcoming exhibition in the university based on the Irish revolutionary period of 1914 – 23. I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the three students brought on to assist with the project – the only of which that wasn’t in the final year of their undergraduate students.

My role as a research intern consisted of perusing the variety of collections within NUI Galway’s Special Collections and archives for a range of materials relating to the involvement of University College Galway in nationalism, republicanism and the events of the Easter Rising in Galway. My research brought me to investigate a broad range of materials, such as personal collections, local and national newspapers, manuscripts, witness statements and memoirs. Gathering this material also involved external trips to institutions such as the National Library, National Archives and County Museums. The final phase of my work was to compile a report of what I had discovered, and make a critical assessment of what would be the optimal material and stories to feature in a visual exhibition.
Working on this project has been immensely enjoyable, intellectually rewarding and allowed me to challenge myself academically and personally.

 I have engaged with institutions such as archives, museums and libraries to an unprecedented extent in my academic career so far, leaving them being seen no longer as imposing, closed off spaces, but as very accessible, valuable and versatile places for many different avenues of research and learning. I have also met and forged professional relationships with various historians and archivists, as well as those in librarian and support services both in Galway and throughout Ireland. I have also challenged my critical thinking and research methodologies by being engaged with a project on an unparalleled scale to what I have been involved with before. It was also challenging, yet very exciting, to broaden my research interests by studying an area outside of my personal expertise.

Looking back, I am extremely glad that I decided to get involved in this project. While it was not without the odd hurdle, it was a very fulfilling few weeks and a great learning process for someone like myself who is interested in a career in history. The official launch of the exhibition was a moment of great personal pride and fulfilment for a lot of challenging work. If another such opportunity arose again I would absolutely not hesitate to put myself forward and get stuck right in. I would also encourage anyone in a similar position to myself, or just with an interest in historical studies and practice, to make the most of an opportunity like this.

I would like to extend my thanks to the project co-ordinators, staff in the James Hardiman Library/Special Collections and the History Department of NUI Galway for their guidance, assistance and giving me the opportunity to work on this very worthwhile project.

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