Eric Flores on his new role at the National Archives

Eric Flores recently started a position at the National Archives and Records Administration as an Archivist, after receiving his Graduate Certificate in Textual and Digital Studies in 2023. His worked on his capstone with Kenzie Brown on the Rare Books Collection in the Archdiocese of Seattle.

He shared some of his reflections on how the TDS graduate certificate helped him in his new role:

“There are a few different ways that the TDS graduate certificate helped me as an archivist. 

The first way was giving me the terminology and exposure to work with different materials: materials that I do work with on a daily basis now. It not only helps with my description work, but it also helps with preservation as well. Having a base knowledge of different textual components helps me understand how to keep materials preserved. Just as a few examples, certain papers perform better in particular preservation environments, and older iron gall inks can eat through paper meaning it’s probably best to digitize the material right away if it’s not already destroyed.

The nice thing was that the exposure I am talking about was not just through lectures. It was through hands-on teaching and going down to UW’s Special Collections. Being able to talk to experienced professionals while conducting our projects was a great way to reinforce what we learned through lecturing, and it gave us other valuable insights that we might not have had the chance to discuss during lectures. Sometimes this “hands-on” experience was not hands-on at all but flipping through a digital example of a textual work. Which made us consider how our own digitally edited materials should or could be represented.

Although creating digital materials might not be something I am actively doing in my current position, it is something that I give a lot of thought to on a daily basis. Archives are becoming more and more digital, and I do not think we, as a collective archive community, are currently representing these materials in the best possible way. So often materials are represented in clunky, outdated formats that help little in actually exploring the material. In fact, I would say they actively inhibit the use of the material due to sheer frustration. This is something that the TDS program helped me think about, and hopefully programs like the TDS program help future archivists/librarians find new ways to represent these objects. As archivists, our collections have very little value if they are not actively being used and enjoyed. We have to make sure our digital collections are useful.” – Eric Flores