Featured History Students
Christina Perris, M.A. in History & Archival Studies
Christina Alanne Perris is a second-year master of arts student majoring in Modern European History and Archival Studies. Miss Perris holds an associate of arts degree in psychology (Crafton Hills College, Yucaipa, CA, 2000, with honors) and a bachelor of arts degree in History with an emphasis in public and oral history (California State University, San Bernardino, 2009, with highest honors). In addition to her recognized scholarship in the study of rescuers during the Holocaust on which she has presented at several academic conferences during both her undergraduate and graduate studies, Miss Perris is also the founding archivist of the Perris Valley Museum Historical Archives in Perris, California, a community-based, nonprofit archival facility committed to preserving the history of the city of Perris, California and its surrounding valley. There is no coincidence between Miss Perris’s last name and the name of the city: she is the great-great granddaughter of Southern California railroad pioneer, Frederick Thomas Perris, and the city is named in honor of him.
Genealogy aside, Miss Perris has established herself as an accomplished student of archival studies. At California State University, San Bernardino, Miss Perris became the first history student to win first prize in the university’s Spring 2009 research competition for the Undergraduate Research in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences category with the project she completed as part of her second internship as a public and oral history major. The project entitled “The Arda Haenszel California Room Photograph Collection: The Development, Creation and Maintenance of a Searchable Digital Finding Aid for an Existing Historical Photograph Collection” involved Miss Perris digitizing, formatting and describing the nearly 400 photographs in the Arda Haenszel California Room’s historic photograph collection held at the Norman Feldheym Central Library in San Bernardino, California. Miss Perris was able to combine the photographs into a digital portfolio utilizing a new function of the Adobe Acrobat Pro 9.0 software platform to create a searchable digital finding aid that has its first successful “find” of a specific photograph for a patron even before the project was fully completed. It is this demonstration of the bridge between theory and practical, real-world application Miss Perris personally attributes to her win in the research competition.
Miss Perris has continued to hone her skills in archival studies while in residence at Claremont Graduate University. She spent the summer of 2010 in residence at the Pilgrim Place Archives Library at Pilgrim Place in Claremont, California, an intentional retirement community of predominantly former Christian missionaries with a long, rich history within Claremont. Working with the volunteer archival assistants comprised of residents of Pilgrim Place, Miss Perris worked on mapping out the arrangement of the facility’s archival collections through a dual-source process. The results of the process Miss Perris has employed in this endeavor have proven so successful and unique she is planning on drafting a paper proposal on the technique she developed for consideration to present at the Society of American Archivist’s 75th anniversary conference in Chicago in August 2011. Miss Perris is a second-year student member of the Society of American Archivists.
The crowning achievement of Miss Perris’s current endeavors in archival practices is the work she has been performing for nearly two years on the development and establishment of the aforementioned Perris Valley Museum Historical Archives. The project has required Miss Perris to carry her theory-based training in archival studies from the classrooms of both CGU and her alma mater, CSUSB, into the real world for application in this groundbreaking endeavor. Miss Perris has not only come to assume the role of founding archivist, but also serves as the chief administrator, director and fund-raising coordinator for the facility. Her wide breadth of experience in developing and establishing this new archival facility encouraged Miss Perris to explore the possibility of using her real-world experiences for the focus of master’s thesis. When she is asked about her feelings about taking on such a monumental project as the creation of a new archival facility, Miss Perris admits that it is a daunting responsibility to be charged with so early in one’s career in the field of archival work.
“Many archivists spend their entire careers dreaming of an opportunity to start an archive from the ground up, but very few of them ever get to actually realize it. I am extraordinarily fortunate enough to have been charged with this opportunity at this early point in my career.”