Nancy Davis Bray
In 1983 I was firmly enmeshed in UGA culture (work and school) when one of my Georgia College history professors contacted me to ask if I might be interested in the newly created Archival Associate position in Special Collections. Admittedly curious, I applied for the position and was hired; thus commencing my career in archives. Since then Special Collections has increased its staff and collections, and I have collected another degree and several titles – the current one being Associate Director for the department. I joined SGA in 1984 and have had the pleasure of serving in almost every appointed or elected position (I thank you for never asking me to serve as Treasurer). My degrees are from Georgia College (History/Psychology) and the University of Georgia (MPA). For the past few years, I have threatened my family and colleagues with the possibility of an Ed.D. – we’ll see.
The best professional advice I ever received was from a former UGA colleague, Linda Aaron, who suggested I join SGA in order to learn more about my new profession. Fortunately, I had sense enough to follow her recommendation and join. SGA members did not hesitate to share their time and knowledge with a “newbie” and offered encouragement to seek leadership roles within the organization. Never one to pass up a good thing, I gratefully absorbed the shared wisdom and knowledge – something I often think about when teaching an archives class or discussing potential careers with one of our students. Without the cornucopia of professional opportunities offered and the friendships formed via SGA, I doubt I would still be as passionate about our profession as I am today.
In any conversation regarding a potential career in archives, I encourage people to volunteer. Get some “hands on” experience and decide what part of it excites you the most; then find a program that will give you the degree/certificate you will need to get the position you really want.
Curiosity is everything! If you are not curious about the world around you, or intrigued by the why and how of it, you need to be an accountant.
My fondest memory is the encouragement I received from Dr. Tom Armstrong (GC History Department) to apply for the Archival Associate position at Georgia College. He started me on this path.
I consider my current and former students, student assistants and interns as the highlight of my career. Many of them are now SGA members and are currently employed as archivists throughout Georgia and the Southeast.