We’re coming to the end of American Archives Month. This time, we’re heading back to the Midwest, up to Ann Harbor and Grand Rapids, MI. This Presidential Library belongs to a famous University of Michigan grad: Gerald Ford.
Name: Stacy Davis
Occupation: Archivist at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library
How long have you worked at this library?
Ten years, but I have worked 15 years for the National Archives.
How/why did you decide to go into the archival field?
I found the archives field by accident. While I was finishing my undergraduate degree in History at Central Michigan University, I found out about an internship at the John F. Kennedy Library through a flyer. I got the job, and from that point I was hooked on archives!
What are some of your responsibilities at your library?
I participate in a wide variety of activities at the Ford Library. I am the manager of the Library’s digitization program, the ARC point of contact, Specially Protected Materials control person, student employee supervisor. I help monitor the research room, accession new materials, sometimes process new collections, and provide reference assistance.
What do you like best about your job?
I think what I like best is the variety of things that I get to do, and the people I get to work with. On any given day, I could be working with newly received material, helping a researcher in the research room, preparing a collection to be digitized, adding newly digitized material on our website, working with our student employees on a project, processing a collection, or helping our museum staff with a reference question.
Tell us about a time something unusual or unexpected happened to you in your line of work.
I participated in carrying out the funeral plans for President Ford when he passed away in 2006. I was also able to attend a service held at the Museum in Grand Rapids. Although I didn’t know President Ford personally, I felt like I did because of all the time I spent working with his materials and researching his life. It was amazing to see the outpouring of support from the people from Michigan and around the country.
Tell us something about your President that the average American might be surprised to learn.
Gerald Ford did a little work as a model while he was at Yale Law School. He appeared in a photograph spread in Look Magazine with then girlfriend Phyllis Brown, a model for Cosmopolitan Magazine. The article was entitled, “A New York Girl and her Yale Boy Friend Spend a Hilarious Holiday on Skis.”
If your library was attacked by zombies and you could only save one record, what would it be?
This is a tough one, especially since I’m in charge of our Specially Protected Materials. If I had to choose, it would be the letters from Maria Von Trapp to President and Mrs. Ford. Maria was not happy with Mrs. Ford’s comments during her 1975 interview on 60 Minutes, and she wrote to tell them so! I chose these letters because I am a big fan of The Sound of Music, they give you a glimpse of the “real” Maria, and they highlight Mrs. Ford’s candor as the First Lady.
If you were carving a President Ford-themed pumpkin, what design would you choose and why?
I would attempt to carve an image of the Capitol building on my Gerald Ford-themed pumpkin. Ford served in the House of Representatives for 24 years, and was Minority Leader from 1965 to 1973. He never planned on being President; in fact, his real aspiration was to become Speaker of the House of Representatives. When President and Mrs. Ford were leaving Washington, D.C., after President Carter’s inauguration, he asked the pilot to circle slowly over the Capitol. “That’s my real home,” he said.