Ever wonder what exciting new projects the many employees at NARA are working on? The “What are You Working On?” blog feature aims to introduce a variety of NARA employees and highlight some of the exciting projects we are working on around the agency.
What is your name and title?
Michelle Farnsworth, Digital Imaging Technician
Where is your job located?
I am located at A1 in Washington, DC.
What is your job in a nutshell?
I consider myself an in-house custom photo lab for NARA. I work with the Exhibits (LX) department to scan and photograph records that are going on exhibit or being loaned out. I make facsimiles for exhibit purposes, as well as many gift facsimiles for AOTUS, The White House, and The State Department. I also work with Jane Fitzgerald in Research Services, to fulfill any high-quality scanning and printing requests from the public.
What are you working on right now? (Why is it cool/why does it matter?)
Right now I’m working on scans for our upcoming exhibit, Spirited Republic. Some items that we are borrowing from other NARA libraries have arrived at A1 and they need to be photographed for use online, and in the eBook that will accompany the exhibit.
It’s cool because the items themselves carry historical significance as they belonged, or were gifted, to former U.S. Presidents. The items themselves are often challenging to photograph, which is a nice change of pace from my usual subject matter.
How long have you been at NARA? Have you worked at any other NARA location?
I’ll be celebrating 8 years with NARA, this spring. When I started, I was working up at the College Park Digital Imaging Lab, but moved down to A1 after a few months to get this lab up and running.
What has changed since you started at NARA?
I was brought into NARA by the late, great Steve Puglia. He had hired and created a small, but very effective team of skilled Imaging Technicians who were excited about the work and environment. That original team was then combined with the former Photo Lab staff to create a bigger Digital Imaging team. We were originally part of Preservation, but then got moved to IT, and now we are located under the Office of Innovation. It feels a bit like Prince Charming trying to find just the right fit for Cinderella’s shoe!
Do you have a favorite day at NARA, or a favorite discovery or accomplishment?
I will always remember the two occasions that I was able to photograph Magna Carta. The first time was when David M. Rubenstein had just bought it and the document made it’s way back to NARA. Conservation had taken it out of it’s case to assess it, and we set up an imaging environment in the A1 Conservation Lab so we could work with the conservators to photograph its condition.
The second time, it was out at A2 after having been newly treated, and I was asked to photograph the process of it being put into it’s shiny new case, which is now on permanent display in our Records of Rights exhibit.
What are your passions or interests outside of work?
Outside of work I’m a photographer. I’m a chef. I’m a baker. Occasionally, I’m a runner. And on Monday nights, you’ll find me with my girlfriends watching The Bachelor and filling out our Bachelor brackets.
What is the last book you read, or the last book you loved?
I read Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, over Christmas. But the last book I loved? That would be We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Listen to the audiobook, the reader does the most amazing job conveying the emotion of this story.
Are there any other cool facts that you would like folks to know about you?
My instagram followers join me on my vacations because I share so many travel photos, you feel like you’re there with me…kind of against your will. Also, my photo of the fall leaves is hanging in the hallway at A2!