June’s volunteer spotlight sheds some light on Sarah Pearson. I had an illuminating discussion about her diligent work at the Southeastern Railway Museum’s library. SRM’s library is tucked away in two rail cars at the bottom of ‘the hill’ in what is known as Building 3, or the shop building. It houses multitudes of train memorabilia – books, magazines, and train-related items of all kinds.
I found Sarah sitting at her desk with yellowed newspaper clippings and plastic covers. Her job today was to preserve the fragile newspaper articles from ages ago. Sarah is one of our newer volunteers and has been volunteering since around February of 2018. She is majoring in history technology at Auburn University and therefore has a natural desire to work at museums. During her search for a museum to volunteer at, she checked out the Southeastern Railway Museum. Sarah was impressed that the website had a volunteer application, so she filled it out. After an interview with Sue Kelly, she became an official library volunteer for SRM.
Sarah works on various projects in the library such as preparing newspaper articles for preservation and categorizing and logging in acquisitions for the Museum’s upcoming digital database. She also has spent time organizing the shelves in the library train cars. Sarah has cataloged VHS tapes, books, and audio recordings and has put their titles into a digital database so future rail enthusiasts looking for a movie, book or audio recording about trains can see what’s available at the Museum. Sarah has also assisted Lloyd Neal with seminars at Georgia Gwinnett College that have focused on how trains and rail travel affect different fields of study and culture. She has also lent a hand with the Trains, Trucks and Tractors event.
When asked if she had a favorite piece of equipment, train, or display, Sarah says, “The General II was cool and I like the dalmatians on the fire trucks.”
Sarah shared some interesting items she has found at the library. “The library has a very old trunk, books that are about 100 years old, and two complete sets of Ties magazines. There are lots of hats; conductor hats, engineer hats, Amtrak hats, and other types. There is also a trolley bell.”
One of Sarah’s most amusing memorable moments occurred when she rode in the vintage restored 1935 checkered taxi to downtown Duluth. She explains that the taxi needs to be driven every so often to keep the motor in working order. Sarah’s other interests include learning about aviation and train history. Acquiring hands-on experience with the SRM library and working with librarian Steve Storey and other library members has been very beneficial. Sarah enjoys working with the other volunteers as well.
One interesting fact about Sarah is that she was born in Germany where her dad was stationed in the Army. Her family moved to New Jersey, then later moved to Atlanta where her sister was born. As a history major at Auburn, she assisted in cataloging Native American artifacts for the University’s history department. Sarah’s hobbies include playing Dungeons and Dragons with her friends. She and her mom have fun hanging out together.
Sarah concludes the interview expressing that she would like to continue keeping track of the acquisitions and donations and cataloging the items into a database for SRM. Her future goals are to learn more about how to preserve artifacts and possibly a Master’s degree.
I want to thank Sarah for taking time out to share some insights about herself, for what she does at the SRM library, and for her contributions to the Museum as a whole.