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The Official Web Site of the State of South Carolina

Meet the Staff: Oriana Windham

The Silver Crescent Standard
Tue, 07/02/2019





I grew up in North Augusta, SC but have lived in Columbia for the last 6 years.  I attended the University of South Carolina where I received a B.A. in English and several years later earned my Masters in Library and Information Science.  While in graduate school I was a student assistant at the South Caroliniana Library.  I had the opportunity there to work with visual materials, mostly photographs and negatives, which was really fascinating.  I have worked at SCDAH for nearly 2 years and have greatly enjoyed my time here so far.


What do you do as a conservation archivist?

The conservation archivist I’m responsible for carrying out basic conservation treatments as needed for the items in our collection.  This includes repairing documents that are torn or broken into pieces, surface cleaning and removing tapes and adhesives, mold treatment, book binding and repairs, creating different types of housings for fragile items, and other types of media stabilization.  I also work on private materials from time to time.  Patrons will bring in items such as family Bibles, books, deeds, letters, and photograph albums to be assessed for repairs, basic conservation treatments, etc.  Additionally, as part of the processing unit at the Archives I am also responsible for some processing and accessioning of incoming records as well as working in the Reference Room a couple times a week. 


Why did you want to be an archivist/why did you want to work in historic preservation/work in records management?

For me the path to archives was not exactly a clear-cut one.  Early on I planned to go to law school but later realized it just wasn’t for me.  I majored in English because I’ve always enjoyed literature and history as a related subject.  Very old books, their construction and the history of bookbinding and printing were always fascinating subjects to me as well.  In graduate school my concentrations were rare books and special collections.  I developed an appreciation for the efforts of those in archives and special collections libraries to preserve important and unique historical records, and I knew I wanted to be involved in that kind of work. 


Do you have a favorite collection or document and why is it your favorite?

It’s difficult to pin down one favorite.  In my time here I’ve come across a number of interesting items.  Anytime I have the ability to look through or treat an 18th or 19th century volume I enjoy it.  I’ve also really enjoyed working on our collection of SC State Bank notes.  The engravings and ornate detailing printed on the currency make for a fascinating study.


State Currency


What is your favorite part of the job?

That’s another difficult one to narrow down. I would have to say it is having the ability to interact closely with unique historical documents on a regular basis.  There is something about being able to see and touch a document or book from the 18th or 19th century that really gives the feeling of being more connected to the past. It’s also very satisfying to complete some of the more complex repairs and treatments and see these books and documents brought a little closer to their former condition.


Who is your favorite historical figure or time period?

That would definitely be William Shakespeare and the Early Modern Period.  Shakespeare’s works are by far my favorite pieces of literature.  No matter now many times I’ve re-read a play or sonnet or seen a play performed, I learn something new or find a new layer to the text, and I love that those works hold just as much relevance today as they did 400 years ago.