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Lehigh Carbon Community College

By Suzy Alstrin

Reinhardt’s connection with the National Archives dates back over a century and continues today. In 1904, Rosa Pendleton Chiles (1866-unknown) left her teaching post of eight years at Reinhardt for a career in Washington, D.C. as an archivist and writer. According to articles kept by the Library of Congress, Chiles wrote an article in the Review of Reviews on the alarming state of the nation’s older records, leading to her testimony to Congress on the need for what ultimately became the National Archives. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson appointed her the official historian of the U.S. Navy.

A Reinhardt alumna now delves into U.S. military personnel records dating back to that era. Addyson Huneke (RU-2023) works as an archive technician for the National Archives Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, researching records dating back to World War I.

Huneke describes her position as her dream job and says the experience gained and mentorship provided by Reinhardt University helped her obtain it. Opportunities and support provided by Jeff Bishop, director of the Funk Heritage Center, and professors Dr. Donna Coffey Little and Dr. Ken Wheeler were critical in getting her the practice she needed to secure her position. She explains, “Once I told them what I wanted to do, they were really helpful in trying to give me the skills and experience I needed to get there.” They provided personal guidance and hands-on archival experience at the Funk Heritage Center and the George Scarbrough Center.

While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in history, Huneke earned induction into Alpha Chi and Phi Alpha Theta honor societies. However, she says initially she didn’t know what career to pursue when she began commuting to Reinhardt from Ball Ground, Georgia. It wasn’t until a trip that included a behind-the-scenes tour of the National Archives in Washington D.C. her passion was piqued, and her pathway was clear. She set her sights on developing the specialized abilities needed to work for the National Archives.

Huneke says what she likes best about her job is working with the people who made the records and knowing that her efforts help people. Rosa Chiles’ actions impacted the nation’s history, and Huneke’s passion is similarly strong. The alumna advises current history majors, “Your degree is what you make of it. History is very open-ended so don’t be afraid to forge your own path.”