PR Intern Turned Archaeology Intern

After beginning my internship at R&R Partners, I was assigned a task unlike anything I’ve done before. Instead of pitching stories to the media or creating social media content (typical PR intern work) I was tasked to rummage through newly discovered artifacts from the 1930s found in R&R’s warehouse to piece together the story these documents tell. I felt a bit like an archaeologist digging through relics that hadn’t been touched for nearly 80 years!

The artifacts were found behind a staircase the construction team had to demolish because they weren’t up to today’s safety standards. As the team started tearing down the steps, an old wooden box was spotted. Inside was this glimpse into the past–invoices, inventory sheets, receiving slips and ledger books, from what used to be the United Grocers produce company, were found.

When I was assigned the task of going through the box’s contents, I bought a pair of archival gloves to wear because the papers were so fragile from sitting in the Arizona heat. Most of the documents were in great shape, but the moths had shredded some of them. I cataloged the better condition items, noting

which ones I thought everyone should see.

I found it interesting to see pieces from companies that are still around today, like the Quaker Oats Co. receipts and the piece of Cracker Jack box. In the 1930s, a shipment of Dole pineapples was only $262.68 for 95 cases! As R&R is working to maintain the history of the warehouse, our managing director decided they’d be worth displaying as conversation pieces and part of our warehouse décor. The rest of the documents will be donated to the Arizona Historical Society to be shared with the community.

After this task, I know it’s true—in PR at an agency, you never know what type of task is coming your way. Going through these old documents, I was able to piece together the history of the United Grocers’ business and tell their story—actually not too different than my regular PR tasks.