Caleb Brookins: A Rewarding Experience
When I first applied for the position of archival assistant on the Digital PV Panther Project, my goal was to generate an income stream while attending college. I had some available time in my schedule during the fall semester of 2022, and I wanted to fill it in a constructive manner. Prairie View A&M University sits in rural Waller County, Texas, and students do not have a multitude of work opportunities. Thus, I visited the website for student jobs, and I was excited about seeing a job that paid more than any other on campus.
Little did I know the monumental impact the experience would have on my mindset moving forward. Indeed, I will always cherish my experience working on the Digital PV Panther Project.
So many students do not know about the rich history of Prairie View A&M University, and I was certainly one of them when I started working on the Digital PV Panther Project in August 2022. Over the course of six months working in the archives, I not only learned about the history of slavery at Alta Vista, the plantation once owned by Jared Ellison Kirby, but I had the opportunity to process and digitize manuscript collections that former professors and administrators had donated to the university.
It is amazing that I had the opportunity to preserve important documents in the university archives. Indeed, the importance of the work being done through the Digital PV Panther Project is the preservation of our history. There are countless boxes full of photos, documents, and audiotapes that convey stories about Prairie View. The digitization of this media will not only allow scholars and students to gain a better understanding of our history, but it will also enhance access to long-unexamined resources. This makes my contributions to the project stand the test of time.
Ground Penetrating Radar
Caleb also helped document and map Prairie View Memorial Gardens, the cemetery to the north of campus that contains the graves of former PVAMU professors and administrators.
Even though I am a Psychology major, this public history project captured my sincere interest, which demonstrates the impact that historic preservation at PVAMU can have on other students in the future. Though I must take advantage of new opportunities, I am proud to have spent the fall 2022 semester preventing the erasure of our history, and I am eternally grateful and honored to have had the opportunity.