As HistoryIT celebrates its 10th Anniversary in 2021, we want to take the time to share how amazing our team of history savers is. In this blog series, you’ll get to know each member of our organization who makes HistoryIT’s history-saving work possible. Next up, we’d like to introduce you to Kirsten Kling, Senior Project Specialist.
She serves as the conduit between our Project Staff and Imagers. Kirsten also works her metadata magic, conducts QC reviews, and works with clients to create their digital archives within HistoryIT’s Odyssey Preservation Software. Read on to learn a little more about her role and her passion for history.
1. What about history inspires you?
I went to school for Anthropology because I love the stories that people from all walks of life and their material culture have to tell. History is presented in all sorts of ways — through language, dance, artwork, film, clothing, landscapes, buildings, ceramics; basically anything ever made or altered by humans. I love having the opportunity to learn about different histories through various cultural lenses. Using history and learning from different past experiences is a great way to inform the future.
2. When did you discover HistoryIT and what is one memory from your first year working here?
I was a graduate student at the University of Maine, working at the Collins Center for the Arts. The Executive Director, Danny Williams, was familiar with HistoryIT as his wife, Emily Cain, used to work for the company. He told me about an opening for a contract position in the Bangor, Maine area and that was that! I worked as a contractor for almost a year before I became a full-time Project Specialist in 2019.
I was able to go on my first in-person assessment, right before pandemic times. I liked being able to see the space(s) where organizations house their collections, and interacting with the items in person. I love getting that “behind-the-scenes” opportunity to see some pretty cool things in a collection.
3. Why is it important to digitally preserve our history?
There are many reasons for digitally preserving history. It can be a helpful tool for education, storing cultural heritage and knowledge, making history more accessible to the general public, and digital records can survive longer than a physical item. History is for everyone, and you can experience it through a podcast, a documentary, a website, or a digital exhibit or museum.
4. In your role at HistoryIT what does a typical day look like?
I’m located in Alaska, so my day starts about 4 hours behind everyone else’s on the East Coast. Typically, I’ll check to see if there are any new images that need to be processed, either from our Imaging department or from our cropping team. I’ll also see if any materials need to be QC’d or sent over to our cropping team. There are various project tasks that I also work on involving metadata creation or client Odyssey site development.
5. In celebration of HistoryIT’s 10th Anniversary, what is one of your favorite projects you’ve worked on?
I think my favorite so far was Hog Island, the Audubon Society’s first Nature Study Camp. It’s located in Bremen, Maine, about an hour up the coast from Portland where our main office is. Some of the project staff were able to take a day trip to visit the island and learn about its history from Juanita Roushdy, the president of Friends of Hog Island. We hiked around the entire island, visited some of the live-in artist retreat lodgings, saw all the beautiful Maine coastal sights, and enjoyed a bagged lunch on the steps of the main building (The Bridge).
6. If you were to look back on this interview in 10 years, what mystery of history do you hope will be solved?
I’m a huge paranormal/true crime buff — anyone in the office could tell you about the handful of paranormal and true crime podcasts I listen to during the day. One of my favorite unsolved mysteries is the mystery of D.B. Cooper and it’s the only unsolved instance of air-piracy in commercial aviation history. For 45 years, the FBI conducted extensive manhunts and investigations into the man we know as D.B. Cooper and we still don’t know what became of him or the $200,000 he ransomed from hijacking a Boeing 747 in the 1970s. The popularization of true crime in the 21st century and the advancement of technology have resulted in the resolution of many unsolved mysteries, and have helped solve hundreds of cold cases. I think that the more people have access to learn about all these stories, all these histories, the more widely it can be shared. I believe digitizing history is one of the biggest ways we can get answers to these questions.
7. What’s one thing you want your clients to know about HistoryIT?
We love history. Obviously, I know. But we love taking your passions for preserving your histories, your archives, your collections, and creating a functional, creative, digital space for them.
8. Who will play you when they make a movie about the making of a HistoryIT?
That’s a tough one … probably someone who can be weird like Kristen Wiig or Kate McKinnon.