Peter E. Schinkel
Class of 2010
Pete Schinkel retired July 31, 2000, after 28 years with the Georgia Department of Archives and History. He was the private manuscripts curator for 10 years and a records manager for the last 18 years. His job was to assist state and local government agencies determine the appropriate and legal retention periods for their records.
Pete received a BA in History from Valdosta (GA) State (1968). Supported by the GI-Bill and a Ford Foundation Fellowship he received an MA from the University of Georgia (1971). He taught history at Clayton Junior College for three years and later developed and taught a graduate course in records management for Atlanta University's School of Library and Information Science.
Active in state and national government archives professional organizations, Pete is past president of the Georgia Records Association (GRA). Pete has served on National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators' (NAGARA) board of directors, on several SAA committees, is past president of the Society of Georgia Archivists (SGA) and of the Georgia Chapter of Government Management Information Science (GaGMIS). Also, Pete managed the joint project by the International Institute of Municipal (IIMC) and NAGARA that, in April 2000, produced six basic, generic records management technical bulletins (see http://nagara.org/associations/5924/files/NAGARA_Bulletins2000_complete.pdf
Describe how SGA has influenced your development as a professional.
SGA played a large role in my education as an archivist. I joined SGA while attending the Archives Institute (1971). It was through the Societies’ meetings and workshops I learned about the real world Archivists work in. Also, attending these meetings introduced me to the needs of the many non-archivists that attended SGA’s programs in the early days. This was extremely useful in my role as the manuscripts collector for the Georgia Archives and later as an advisor to local government officials.
What advice would you give a student or individual considering a career in archives?
Learn what archivists actually do, day after day. A good archivist is one that really enjoys the work and can accept the low pay, at least in the beginning. Once committed to a career as an archivist continual study is necessary to keep abreast of evolving best practices. Participate in the activities of professional organizations like SGA, SAA, etc., and develop a network of individuals in related fields. And enjoy the work and the people.
Describe one of your fondest professional memories or a highlight of your career in archives.
I succeeded in getting the first automated records creating device in the Georgia Archives. The then Secretary of State considered computers the spawn of the Devil; any kind of automation was suspect. In 1976, after much lobbying I was permitted to purchase an IBM Memory 50 typewriter for Manuscripts. The non-removable tape drive held only “50 pages” but that allowed typing an entry once and then printing as many catalog cards as desired. Of course once the tape was full something had to be erased in order to type new entries. Still that was a major improvement in the efficiency of providing subject access to the Manuscripts collections. Later, I also was the first in the Archives to have a personal computer but, to me, that was not as memorable as the Memory 50!