Bingham controls Appalachian history

When surveying the halls of the Archives of Appalachia, you will come across various records and documents from the Appalachian region, which highlight the noteworthy history of the surrounding area. What you might not know is how all of these possessions of local history get found and organized into one, elaborate collection.

Jen Bingham, collections archivist, helps run the daily operations of the Archives of Appalachia, and handles the daily entry of material from around the Appalachian area. This constant influx of artifacts and historical information allows Bingham to never have a routine day at the office.

“Some days I work with donors and potential donors, some days I’m trying to track down information about a family or an event related to one of our collections, some days I’m working to stabilize and preserve our more fragile materials, some days it’s straight-up data entry,” Bingham said. “Even when I come to work with a plan for the day, I know that I will probably encounter a surprise or a problem or a mystery.”

The ever-changing flow of Bingham’s work day allows her to enjoy what she does, while also collecting varying levels of information.

“There’s always something new to learn or do,” Bingham said. “Plus, I work with a great group of people.”

Bingham did not initially envision herself as an archivist, but a combination of growing up in the Appalachian region and a change of scenery from the tourism industry helped bring her to ETSU to work for the university.

“I’ve lived in some part of Southern Appalachia since 1993, but didn’t give the region a lot of thought as something to study academically until I saw the posting for the job I hold now,” Bingham said. “The job I hold now caught my eye because of the location and the topical focus of the archives.”

While Bingham did not expect early on to end up an archivist, she believes that her journey has been a positive experience.

“I’m currently doing what I would have done differently,” Bingham said. “The Archives of Appalachia sounded interesting and like something I could speak to because I’d lived in the region for a while.”

For more information on the Archives of Appalachia, contact Jen Bingham at binghamj@etsu.edu or visit their Reading Room in Room 422 on the fourth floor of Sherrod Library. Hours are open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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