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Angie Wieck, Published December 16 2012

History buff makes the past accessible in role at NDSU

FARGO – Trista Raezer enjoys sharing her love of history. It suits her well in her role as interim director of the North Dakota State University Archives.

Outreach and promotion have been areas of focus since she joined the university earlier this year. Raezer recently talked about her job and the information and resources available in the archives.

Please describe the kind of work that is done here.

What we do is collect, preserve and make available historically significant records from the past. We have the Institute for Regional Studies Archives where we collect historical materials pertaining to the history of North Dakota, Fargo and the northern Great Plains. We also have the university archives component where we collect records created by the university going back to 1890 when it was founded.

We try to do our best to preserve the records to ensure they last as long as possible, and then make them available to the general public.

What is your role here?

I’m an archivist. Right now I’m also the interim director of the archives. I kind of have my hands in a little bit of everything.

I do reference services for people coming in. I try to help them find what they’re looking for.

When new collections and materials come in, I process the materials. We want to make sure they get into acid-free boxes and folders for preservation purposes. Another important task is writing a finding aid, which is a description of what is in the collection. These finding aids go online on our website.

One thing we’re really into right now involves about 700,000 photographs going back to about the 1870s or so. We’ve been scanning and digitizing those to go online. We have a really popular Flickr account and are also a part of Digital Horizons (an area archive collaboration). We also have a History Pin website where we superimpose historic photos of buildings onto a Google street view map. That’s been really popular.

I really want to concentrate on outreach to get the word out that we’re here. I believe we’re a very valuable asset to this community. We’re here to help preserve the documents that are evidence of what happened in the past here. We kind of contain Fargo’s story, and that of North Dakota, and the university.

What drew you into the profession?

I’ve always loved history since I was little. I know that sounds kind of cliché. I majored in history, and I really wasn’t interested in teaching, which is what most people who major in history do. I realized that being an archivist I would actually get to handle and deal with historic records and objects. That really appealed to me. Also, a part of being archivist is giving access to the general public to these historic records and that really appealed to me as well.

What type of things do people tend to research here?

We get everything from students doing research for classes, to historians writing books, genealogists and people who might be researching the history of their home. There is a wide array of reasons people come in.

Where are the archives located?

The offices are in the Skills and Technology Center, 1305 19th Ave. N., Fargo.

For more information about archive resources, call (701) 231-5632 or visit http://library.ndsu.edu/archives.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501