As I continued my education at the university by pursuing a master’s degree in English literature, I was again presented with the possibility of interning at Alabama Heritage. While I felt more confident in my editing experience, my reservations now fell to the magazine’s genre. I reasoned that I was not an expert by any means in history, and as a Floridian I was ignorant of most of Alabama’s state history. I wondered how I would be able to edit material on subjects I knew nothing about. After six years as a resident of Tuscaloosa, I felt like a newly naturalized child of Alabama, but I also knew I had my limits; my knowledge of the state’s geography was limited to James Spann’s tornado coverage and its history to the information I had been able to pick up by reading the stray historical plaque or listening to my friends’ recollections of their own Alabama upbringings.
Throughout the course of my internship, I’ve found that it’s perfectly alright (and perhaps better) that I am not always familiar with the material in the articles I edit. Writing is writing, no matter what the subject, and I now realize that even as an undergraduate, I possessed all of the tools necessary to intern for a publication like this one. While I found that I already possessed many of the tools necessary to complete the tasks here as an intern, the work I was assigned helped me develop these skills through a different medium. I have been able to further hone my editing skills, and I have learned how to make requests concerning publishing materials like images and photographs. As a literature student, my practice researching for seminar papers came in especially handy when I was assigned the task of fact checking articles.
I feel that this experience has not only made me a better editor and proofreader, but it has introduced me to the professional side of publishing. More importantly, though, my experience at Alabama Heritage has sparked a curiosity and interest in the history of Alabama that I had not previously held. I found myself grow gradually more engrossed with each article, to the point that I began to come away excited from the historical articles I had once deemed “boring.” The turning point came when I was assigned an article on Sarah Haynsworth Gayle’s journal. I was interested by her status as a female writer as well as the story behind her journal. Halfway through the piece, I put two and two together, realizing that this female writer was the mother of Amelia Gayle Gorgas—a figure whose name (at least) haunts the University of Alabama. With this article I first felt a personal connection to the magazine’s material. In addition to cultivating this personal connection to Alabama and Alabama history, my time interning at Alabama Heritage has been a great learning experience for me, and I encourage any English undergraduate or graduate student even mildly interested to actively seek out this position.