Day 5 – The Normandy Institute’s Visit to the National Archives
Julia Brunson, Ronald Reagan IB High School, Wisconsin
Today we visited the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. It was an experience many will never have the privilege to experience, and undoubtedly one many of the Normandy Institute (NI) students and teachers will not forget. The day was centered around learning more about our Silent Heroes, but it was also a learning experience about research itself.
The student-teacher pairs were immediately split up into two groups, one conducting research in the textual archives and one in the photographic archives a floor above. Thanks to the help of some amazing, devoted volunteer historians, files were pulled and set aside for the pairs to peruse. The day flew by as students and teachers alike learned how to navigate textual stacks, photographs, microfilm and temporary cemetery maps.
The day concluded with a tour of the Archives, a very interesting behind-the-scenes look at how records are actually stored. The security and preservation surrounding the documents was fascinating, but so was meeting the researchers and employees in the various rooms.
The student-teacher pairs left, official NARA researcher card in hand, and knowledge about their Silent Hero and NARA itself tucked firmly into their minds. The trip to France would begin soon.