Rosina Roesch. Photo courtesy of Beulah Williams Library Archives and Special Collections.
German majors and minors have an exciting new opportunity to cultivate their translation skills while learning about German history. Starting this semester, Northern State University is offering an internship which allows students to put their German skills to the test in order to archive, translate, and research regional German history. All of the historical materials are in NSU’s library archives, and the collection of materials they receive is constantly growing.
There is a huge gold mine of information. All kinds of fascinating stories about people’s lives are being told in those leathers. Dr. Virginia “Ginny” Lewis, Professor of German
Currently, interns have access to a variety of materials such as photographs, newspapers, and more. “It’s a treasure trove.” Ginny Lewis, German Professor at NSU, said. Some of the materials interns are working with include a collection donated by the Roesch family, a German family who came to the United States from Russia in 1898 and settled in Roscoe, S.D. This unique collection spans nearly an entire century and explores the life of an immigrant as well as the historical conditions of Russia. “There is a huge gold mine of information,” Lewis explained, “All kinds of fascinating stories about people’s lives are being told in those leathers.”
Not only does this internship open doors to a whole new world of discoveries, but it’s also convenient and accessible entirely from your own computer. Everything is available via the internet, and all of the documents are digitized and can be accessed through the archival site in the library. Dr. Lewis believes that this internship opportunity is invaluable in showing the practicality of the major. “Students will gain an immediate sense of value of the program and of the skills they obtain,” she said. “They can work with documents that no one has touched or seen before.” Ambrosia Conger, a German major who is currently doing this internship, believes that it is an invaluable experience. “It shows how valuable the language is, even here in South Dakota.” Of course, however, translating German is no walk in the park. Students have to transcribe old letters and other various materials without a degree, which is no small task. They will have to be exceptionally careful and use their critical thinking skills. “If they can’t find a certain word in the dictionary, they have to use their investigative skills to figure out what is being said.” Lewis said, “Overall, I think the work is very rewarding.” For Conger, the most difficult aspect of the internship is the handwriting. “It is called kurrentschrift, and it is very difficult for me to read right now.” Students interested in learning more about this internship should contact Dr. Lewis.