Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Brian A. Knowles’ Love of History Leads to Career Choice as Archivist

Brian A. Knowles, University Libraries’ Part-time Temporary Assistant Archivist, remembers watching public television programming with his grandmother Joan, and one of the memorable documentaries he viewed as a young adult was about World War II. The program sparked a lifelong interest in history. This passion propelled him to obtain a dual degree in historic preservation and history from Southeast Missouri State University.

While a civilian, Brian worked as an intern at the Archives at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, located in Quantico, Virginia, which is about 35 miles south of Washington D.C. While there, he assisted researchers, accessioned documents and materials, and helped organize Command Chronologies for transition to the National Archives and Records Administration.

The highlight of his internship was processing and digitally scanning World War II photograph albums. Within those albums were rare photographs of the American flags raised at various sites on Iwo Jima in 1945. Other photographs show the daily life in and out of combat as Marines served on Okinawa and Iwo Jima.

Brian’s appreciation and passion for history led him to serve as a volunteer at the Cape River Girardeau Heritage Museum, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and at Trial of Tears State Park, Jackson, Missouri. With almost seven years of service with the U.S. Marines Corps Reserve, Brian has trained throughout the U.S. and was activated for deployment to Iraq in 2004 for one year.

During 2007, Brian met Prof. David Ulbrich, formerly of the Department of History, and decided to pursue a master’s degree at Ball State. His idea was to take classes under Prof. Ulbrich; however, when Brian arrived on campus, he learned that Prof. Ulbrich had taken a position at Ohio University. Dr. Arthur W. Hafner, Dean of University Libraries, said, “We are glad Brian is at Ball State University Libraries while he is earning a master’s degree in history because he is bringing us his considerable experience working with archival materials and knowledge of historic preservation.”

Brian is currently working on projects in the College of Architecture and Planning’s Drawings and Documents Archive where he utilizes his archive experience and educational background in historic preservation. One significant project is adding architectural renderings and drawings of the Joseph Cezar Collection to the archive’s database. Cezar was an illustrious architect, from the 1930s into the 1970s, who worked extensively in Indiana, designing offices, buildings, churches, and houses.

In the future, Brian’s vocational objective is to apply the experience and new skills gained while working in the Ball State University Libraries to a career in the Archives at the Marine Corps Base Quantico.

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