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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Carolina People: Meet Nicholas Graham, University archivist

Nicholas Graham
University Archivist, 14 years at Carolina

What’s a typical day like in your job?

We’re always chasing down University history questions, looking in the collections. Another big part of our work is records management. On a typical day, I’ll go to one or two offices and meet with people, look at records in the office and help them figure out the best way to care for and preserve the records they have.

How does your job support Carolina’s mission?

I see the work of the University Library throughout The Blueprint for Next. In Of the Public, For the Public, it is of vital importance to us in the archives to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help campus offices preserve their records and do it in a way that’s fair and transparent. Thinking about Innovation Made Fundamental, we really do a ton of work now with digital records. Unlike paper, you can’t just take a box of old floppy disks or hard drives and put them on a shelf and forget about them for decades. We explore new ways to ensure digital records are preserved just as safely and securely as paper records are. We innovate wherever we can.

What do you like most about your work?

I enjoy the collections, but more than that I enjoy the kinds of people who both work in archives and who use the archives. One of the things I like most is seeing people, especially students, get interested in and excited about University history.

How did you get interested in archiving?

Working in libraries as an undergraduate and for a few years after college. The people I met and the work I saw people doing in library archives really appealed to me, and so I came to grad school at Carolina. It’s been a fascinating and rewarding career so far.

What’s one thing about your job that others might not know?

What many people may not think about is that the work that they’re doing every day is, in the future, going to be part of UNC-Chapel Hill’s history, part of the historic record. Our job is not just caring for old records, but making sure that the work of the University today is documented and preserved.