First Experiences

Written by: Chriziel Childers

The Boulder Canyon Dam project brought the Colorado River to the arid southwest. The dam’s construction was going to submerge federal land along the Colorado, Virgin, and Muddy rivers, citing a push to do natural history studies, archaeological survey, and excavations for the land. These collected specimens and artefacts would be the starting point for the museum collections at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

A view from the Hoover Dam, then called Boulder Dam

During the first week of June, Boulder City, Nevada is experiencing highs of 106°F and lows of 78°F. With excessive heat warnings issued for Southern Nevada, summer has officially begun. I take shelter into a climate-controlled room filled with museum artifacts and archives. I am starting my third week here at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. 

My name is Chriziel Childers and I am working as an Archives Technician at Lake Mead for the summer. I am passionate about working in archives, and it is a goal of mine to pursue a career in archives, museums, and libraries in the future. 

I started my position at Lake Mead National Recreation Area with ACE three weeks ago. I am responsible for processing the park’s map collection and going through the entire process of collections management. The maps I encountered on my first day ranged from topographic maps, geological survey maps, to facility blueprints of the park. 

Chriziel Childers processing and appraising maps stored inside map drawers.

I started my first week creating a processing plan for the map collection and began the processing. The biggest challenge for the first two weeks was not knowing where to start the process. Deciding which categories to separate, and appraising the maps on whether it belongs to the collection was challenging, and the sheer amount of maps in 20 drawers and uncounted rolls in the collections room and the office was intimidating at first. 

Now that I finished three weeks of my service, I am in a routine of processing and humidifying rolled maps for flattening. The tasks and maps that I process daily are rewarding, and seeing physical progress on the collection gives me a great feeling of accomplishment.

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