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Carol Wilson: Adventures at the North Dakota Historical Society

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

From the Northern Express:

Taking time to relax and smell the archives might not be everyone’s idea of a dream internship, but it was last summer for Carol Wilson, a senior professional writing and history major from Royal Oak, Mich. As an intern with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, in conjunction with Prairie Public Radio, Wilson helped people rediscover North Dakota’s rich history.

“My duties included digging through the state archives to find interesting things that happened on specific dates I was assigned,” she said with a smile. “I then took the information and wrote a 420-word script for the ‘Dakota Datebook,’ a history program that is broadcast each day. The scripts were read by a professional announcer on the radio.” Wilson’s scripts for Dakota Datebook can be found here along with the on-air recorded versions.

Wilson not only gained experience in archival research, but also learned the importance of understanding the audience for whom you are writing. “Many of North Dakota’s residents are of Scandinavian or Native American descent,” Wilson said. “It’s important to understand their culture and values when writing about sensitive issues.” In addition to research and writing, Wilson learned how the state was preserving its history by digitizing records that had started to deteriorate. She also had an opportunity to visit several sites operated by the State Historical Society.

Wilson said, “In North Dakota, they value their history. They have a budget surplus, so the government funds the Historical Society very well.”


Wilson was excited to find that job opportunities really do exist in the history field and by how well her majors in professional writing and history complement each other in the work world.

“This internship was a dream come true for me.”

Wilson said that her internship helped her develop skills that will aid with her senior research project. Best of all, it gave her encouragement that she will find a job once she graduates. “I just might have to move to find that job, and I’m all right with that,” Wilson said.

Writing every day, searching through the archives, locating interesting facts and sharing them with the world made up a great job for Wilson. This is evident as her face lights up when she talks about her experiences.