Giving voice to the people and events of the past is one of graduate student Nicolette Talley’s greatest joys.
“With the help of the public history program, I will be able to do this for the rest of my life,” said Talley, who is scheduled to graduate in December from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
She discovered the subject for her thesis while a graduate assistant at the UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture. Kaye Lundgren, archival assistant, recently processed a collection on former Arkansas governor Carl Bailey.
The subject fell right into her lap, Talley said.
“I started asking (Lundgren) more questions when she told me that Bailey had a friendship with Harry Truman before he was president, which I found fascinating,” Talley said.
With a life that spanned from 1894 to 1948, Bailey contributed a lot to the state. He created the Arkansas police force, and he introduced the first merit system in the South. Bailey was a prosecuting attorney and eventually became the attorney general and later a two-term governor of Arkansas from 1937 to 1941.
Talley said she couldn’t find research on Bailey, and because she considered him an interesting person, she decided to further explore his life.
She presented her thesis research on Dec. 8 to the last living child of Bailey, whose oral record of his father was recorded by the staff at the Center for Arkansas History and Culture, and who also donated articles on Bailey to the center.
“I want to make sure that Carl Bailey is remembered for generations to come, and I know that without the donations from his son to the CAHC, I may have never had the chance,” Talley said.
Talley gained archival experience at the UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture as a graduate assistant and then later as an intern, learning about digitization and the digital archive experience.
She then applied for the graduate assistant position at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library for a different opportunity. She assists the museum department in inventory, collections management, and exhibit installation.
Talley is the first graduate student at UALR to be accepted into Pathways, a federal government internship program at Central High School National Historic Site in Little Rock, where she works through the National Park Service.
At Central High, Talley is a guide, helping create and present programs, giving interpretive tours of the high school and surrounding area, and representing the site as a first-person interpreter at the front desk. She also creates distance learning lesson plans and helps produce educational videos that explain the cultural and historical buildings and areas around Central High School.
After Talley goes through the Dec. 19 commencement ceremony, she plans to continue working for the National Park Service. She will switch to a full-time position at Fort McHenry in Baltimore in the new year.
“I firmly believe that UALR helped me gain experiences in the public history field, including archives, interpretation, and museums,” she said.
Talley said her time at UALR has been educational, informative, and experience driven.
“I looked at many schools across the country before choosing UALR, and I know that, in the end, this was one of the best decisions of my life,” she said.
To view Talley’s digital exhibit and read more on her research, click here.