Photo Credit: (c) 2019 AE Fletcher Photography
This week we are featuring Sam Citarella, MA '18 in our weekly alumni spotlight!
Sam is the Corporate Assistant Archivist at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), where she works with the Corporate Archivist to preserve the most important records documenting the NYSE’s 228-year long history. Her duties include accessioning, processing, describing, and providing access to the company’s Archives. She also serves as the primary administrator of the company’s archival database.
Sam received an MA in American Studies from George Washington University and a BA in History from Monmouth University. She is also pursuing a MS in Archives Management from Simmons University.
We reached out to Sam to learn more about her journey and her work at the NYSE - read all about it below!
How would you describe your job? What does a typical day look like?
As an archivist, no day at work is the same! This is especially true at the NYSE where an average day is upbeat and ever-changing. On any given day, I balance internal and external reference requests, manage the archival database, create historical content related to the Exchange's listed companies, and in a "normal," non-pandemic, world, oversee the physical day-to-day functions of the Archives, including appraising, processing and digitizing materials to support future access to the NYSE's historical collections. Someone once described the life of an archivist to me as being a “jack of all trades” and that couldn’t be truer!
What has been your favorite project you've worked on at NYSE?
The NYSE Archives recently redesigned its archival database, a project that was long overdue at the time of its launch. Having had a minimal prior digital experience, I was intimidated by the project's components, which included developing new record templates, redesigning the database's styles, and creating new homepages. While the project's phases were demanding and at times felt endless, I began to realize how much of a rhythm I had established, not to mention excitement! Though transforming the rather archaic system into a fully functional and engaging database was daunting at first, it has become the most rewarding project I've worked on yet!
What's an interesting fact we should all know about the NYSE? Or a myth we shouldn't buy into?
The NYSE has an amazing collection of historical photographs. Some of my favorites are of the first women that worked on the Trading Floor in 1943. Due to a shortage of male employees deployed overseas during World War II, women began to work as pages and reporters for the first time in the Exchange’s history. While the women were forced to relinquish their positions following the war, this moment in the NYSE’s history is something I am passionate about, as is elevating the history of women at the Exchange today.
How did you become interested in archival work?
I have always loved libraries, but my interest in history led me to archives. During my American Studies work, I focused on urban and women's history topics, so much of my time was spent in archives, pursuing my own research. From these experiences, I became intrigued by the archivists helping me and realized the critical role they played in my success as a researcher. I began to wonder what it would be like to be in their shoes, managing archives and collections, rather than solely using them as I had been. One thing led to another and here we are, the rest is history!
Were there any American studies courses or faculty which had a meaningful impact on you?
All the American Studies faculty were wonderful, but Suleiman Osman had the most meaningful impact on me. I decided to study at GW based on my interest in urban history and after reading his book: The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn. During my time at GW, I took several of Suleiman's courses and worked closely with him. Aside from being a great professor, he became a dear mentor of mine. He really cares about his students and I can honestly say without his support and encouragement I would not be where I am today!
What advice do you have for American Studies students who are interested in archival/curatorial careers?
Take advantage of the opportunities to intern and become involved in the LAM (Libraries, Archives and Museums) community in and around Washington, D.C. Being at the center of the nation’s capital, there are numerous opportunities to get a feel for the different industries and institutions. I credit much of my early experience to my time spent interning at Smithsonian, Library of Congress and George Washington’s Mount Vernon. While I ultimately ended up in Corporate Archives, quite different from my internship experiences, I believe every opportunity helped build my perspective and insight to the profession. Additionally, seek out mentorships, either through professional organizations or from faculty. Personal connections have been invaluable to my own development. People often love helping those who are willing to work hard to reach their goals!
What is something we should know about you?
I began my academic journey at Brookdale Community College. It is a part of my past that I am most proud of and often refer to when I feel overwhelmed or defeated. Having been a subpar student prior to college, I never would have imagined going on to earn a Graduate degree from George Washington University. I credit this early part of my journey to the tenacity and grit I have developed in my personal and professional life. I am forever indebted to those who made an early impression on me while I was earning my Associates Degree, because it ignited a spark in me that has led me to where I am today.