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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

BBYO Teens Day of Service in ACM Archives

The weekend of February 15, 2013, approximately 1200 exceptional teens from all around the world converged in Washington, DC, to participate in B’nai B’rith Youth Organization’s (BBYO) annual International Convention.  An organization for Jewish teens, BBYO is based around community service and teen empowerment.  The convention began with a day of service, in which the teens went to various businesses and organizations in the DC area and accumulated over 6,000 community service hours for the city.  The Anacostia Community Museum (ACM) hosted forty teens, and of those forty Daniel Meade from San Francisco, Kira Altman from Colorado Springs, and Yoel Yakobi from Toronto, Canada, were selected to assist in the archives division.
Frontispiece portrait of Phillis Wheatley from
Poems on Various Subjects... 1773

The teens began their day of service with a tour of the archives and survey of ACM’s archival treasures and special collections including the earliest publication in the collection, Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral by Phillis Wheatley.  Next, the students were provided with an introduction to archival principles and instructed on how to handle archive materials.  Last, the teens were given an opportunity to put their new knowledge to work and help with rehousing collections, numbering folders and boxes, and spot-checking collections. 
Here’s what the young adults thought of their experience as archivists:       
Dan: “It was really cool to see the old photographs and posters.  I felt like I was helping keep history preserved with my work.”
Yoel:  “It was very interesting. I liked it a lot. I liked doing the photographs because it was fun creating a family tree of all the portraits.”
Kira:  “It was really fascinating to see the old history and put together a family tree. I felt like I helped make the museum be organized. I’m happy I had the experience.”
The BBYO Teens day of service in the ACM archives successfully contributed to bringing unprocessed hidden collections to light and in making them more accessible and ready for public use. The museum looks forward to hosting BBYO teens and other student volunteers in the future.  

Jennifer Morris
Anacostia Community Museum Archives

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