This graduate internship opportunity involves assisting a local historic church in assessing and cataloguing their archive in collaboration with Deacon Ralph Simmons, a member of the church since 1949 and its longtime church historian and archivist.
The Second Free Will Baptist Church originally separated from the African Union Meeting House in about 1830 and by the early 1840s had established itself on the west side of Providence on the corner of Pond and Angle Streets. The church remained in this neighborhood until 1965, when it moved to its present location on Chester Avenue in South Providence due to the construction of Interstate 95 and the redevelopment of the west side high school campus. The congregation has had many notable members, including Reverend Edward Scott, minister in the 1840s who was a leader in the local African-American abolition and civil rights movements, operatic soprano Sissieretta Jones, known in the late 19th century as the “Black Patti,” Reverend Samuel DeWitt Proctor, author and international speaker as well as head of the Peace Corps Volunteers, and Representative Joseph Newsome, church member and state representative who worked to bring Liberian students to Providence to escape the civil war in their home country.
The archive comprises approximately four file drawers of materials, roughly twelve linear feet, which includes early church history as well as documentation related to the relocation of the church to Chester Ave. Deacon Simmons is working on a manuscript of the church’s full history, and this opportunity would involve working closely with him and church members to understand and catalog the archive with the goals of organizing its contents and producing a finding aid for the congregation.
Applicants should be prepared to work collaboratively with the deacons of the church to assess the need and build a plan to assess and document the archive. Applicants should be motivated, proactive, and have strong organizational skills.