The week after Spring Break, was a lot more eventful than anyone could have predicted. Wednesday, was the only day that was like any of the others from the previous week. I would go to the Historical Society and would examine the files of whatever folder I was sifting through. I finally managed to complete the folder for 1834 as well as the second box and could now move onto the third. However, later that day, every student had gotten an email that told students to leave campus because of the coronavirus epidemic. By working with Dr. Black and my father, I learned from Amanda that there was remote work I could do to complete my internship. On Friday, she told me that when I got off campus I had to write down the names on the list I had received. Amanda also told me that she would make sure to send me any articles she could find about Maxwell via email. She also advised me to get a book titled “History of Luzerne County” on Google Books to help me out during my research. That said I managed to start box three and immediately worked on the folder for 1835. I managed to complete a good portion of the documents and made sure to transcribe them as best as I could. One thing that I noticed about these documents was that their dates were easier for me to notice than the previous documents. It made it easier for me to notice if any of these documents were from the year 1835, and only two of them were displaced from the 1838 folder. Finally, on Saturday, after a long flight, I managed to complete the names for 1835 before getting some work done for 1836. To conclude, despite the change of locations, I managed to work on my internship while being away from Luzerne County.
These past two weeks of my internship have been nothing less than busy. After I handed in my project to Robin, I was recruited to answer some questions for Blake and then scheduled a conference call with Robin and Blake. Robin is the team member leading my division of interns. The meeting went very well and they would like me to continue to volunteer after this semester, with more access to the systems. I would be excited if this leads into a possible job position for me in the VA after graduation, so I will continue to work hard.
On top of the meetings and questions, I am in full swing with reviewing the comments/mentions/shares etc for the main VA Facebook and Twitter pages. By reviewing, I mean reading each one to see if it warrants a response or more attention. I either leave for review and assign the comment out or close the comment down. I also tag each post in relation to what it is, tags includes items like PTSD, Suicide, Corona Virus, General comment, Complaint, etc. This project is time consuming so when I first did my schedule I didn’t realize how often I was on. I now check three times a day throughout the work day and keep everything as updated as possible. Maria who was in charge of this project is now on maternity leave, so now I report to Debi.
There still has been no word on the other project from Maria, so its on the back burner until further notice. I look forward to what’s to come.
This last week for my internship has been super busy. I finished up a project for Robin ( who is the new David) and I officially started reviewing all comments for Facebook and Twitter for the VA. This project is not particularly hard but it is long and time consuming. I need to go to each comment/share/retweet/ mention on Facebook and Twitter and review it. By reviewing I mean tag what it is or relating to and determine if it needs a response back. If it doesn’t I can close out the comment with just the tag, if it does I need to assign a priority level and a person to comment back. I am still getting used to what warrants a response back and what tags to use, but its coming more naturally now that I have been doing it. I’m not required to do it over the weekend but when I logged in today it took over an hour to cover all related things just on Twitter. I casually hop on throughout the day, because Robin can see how often I am on and how many I’m doing per day. I’m not required an hour count but am required to keep up with the comments through the week.
On Wednesday, I finally managed to complete the folder for 1833. One of the more interesting things that I examined was that Maxwell had been in correspondence with John Dement. Dement was the Treasurer of Illinois at the time the letter was written. I could not make out the writing of the letter, but it was interesting to see that Maxwell had been talking to someone from a faraway state like Illinois. Although after some research I did learn that Chicago was founded that year, so it is possible the letters relate to that notable point. As to why Maxwell was invested in that, I have no idea. On Friday, I began to work on the folder for 1834. One document that I noticed was that Maxwell was still in charge of the finances of Ebenezer Bowman’s estate long after he died. It is also possible that Maxwell had been working with a relative of Ebenezer named Issac. It is likely that Isaac was Ebenezer’s son who inherited the estate following his father’s death. What was also interesting is that the letter mentions the year he died, 1829, was a year of political struggle. The struggle was between James W. Bowman (possibly Isaac’s brother) and George Dennison against the administration of someone named Thomas W. Miner. I could not find any information about Miner, so I am unsure of what kind of political role he had like mayor or district attorney. However, I thought it was important to bring up as it did provide a brief amount of information regarding the history of the county. Finally, on February 22, I managed to get as much work done for the 1834 folder as I could. Most of the documents I looked at were financially based as usual, and I could not make out anything as interesting as the previous days. With that said, I plan to finish the 1834 folder by Wednesday of next week and start the next box too.
This past week has been super busy for me in the internship and with school; it seems like everything always happens at once. But with that being said, I am super excited about my new project with the VA. I was recently trained to use Social Studio which handles the VA Facebook and Twitter pages. On one of my older projects, I used this tool to gather data and create a pitch for postings, but now I actually get to engage and go through comments on both feeds. I will be going through and classifying them and distributing them to be taken care of if necessary.
I was also assigned a project due tomorrow morning to verify all the VAMCs are standard with their disclosure statements on their individual websites. This project takes time and patience as things load and locating where the info is. I have to answer five questions and match theirs with the standard and submit.
I have one project on the back burner and am still waiting for directions on what to do. They keep cancelling the meetings so I have been using that time to do the ongoing projects and catch up on them.
On Wednesday, the twelfth of February, I finally managed to complete the folder for 1832. As always, most of the documents I looked at were financial in content. For example, one of them was a bill for a court case regarding two men, Peter Allenback against George Stout. The year took me around four pages to fully record it. By the time I finished the folder it was just about time for me to leave. When I returned on Friday, I immediately began to work on the next year of 1833. I looked at the sheet, which had the names of those who were supposed to be in the folder. While not as long as the previous year it was still fairly long. One of the more notable documents I found was a case involving a woman named Olive Whitney. The name was familiar to me and after typing up her surname in the search bar of the document, there was a letter from her the previous year. Apparently, the case was centered around the inheritance of her husband and she was in a legal battle with his former business partners, Benjamin Stephens and Edwards. While I could not fully read the document, it stated that Whitney was a rather successful businessman and that the case was about how much money Olive was supposed to get for the inheritance. After documenting around thirty-three documents, it was time for me to head back to Misericordia. Finally, on Saturday, I found some letters from two familiar names that caught my attention. One of them was from John Wolfenberger who seemed to be a partner of sorts to Maxwell. The two letters stated that he was glad that Maxwell managed to secure payment from someone known as George Oyster. I did some online research and found a George Oyster who could possibly be the one from the letter mainly because he was born in Pennsylvania. The only thing against it is that he died in Washington DC and spent the last sixteen years of his life there. Though, I suppose it is possible that Maxwell could have traveled to DC in order to collect the payment. There was also the last will and testament from Caroline Dennison. Caroline was possibly the wife or sister of George Dennison who was a frequent correspondent of Maxwell. I believe that this shows how close Dennison and Maxwell were.
As I began week 3 on Wednesday, I finally managed to complete the first box. I managed to put the disorganized documents back to their appropriate dates while recording their contents. I also managed to start the second box, completing the years 1830 and 1831. However, the next year and folder detailing 1832 have proven itself to be the largest folder so far. On Friday, Amanda taught me a new format when it comes to recording the documents. The new format is essentially “last name, first name- subject”. If I was unable to decipher the name of someone then all I had to do was this “_______- subject”. That way if I am unable to fully transcribe the contents of a document then a future reader may be able to do so. Despite this new format, I was unable to finish 1832. It must have been a very busy year for Maxwell as a good number of the documents were either to him or from him. I remembered that in the previous years Bowman mostly received letters and Maxwell probably kept them for safekeeping. Until I remembered it had been three years after Bowman had died, which means that Maxwell was now in charge. This meant he was now more involved in the writing now rather than just answering on behalf of Bowman. One letter I noticed was from someone named Thomas Williamson, and regards Maxwell as a friend. Although, I have not been able to find much information regarding Williamson besides working with Maxwell, it was nice to see a link to Bowmans’ personal and professional life. There was also a letter from Laurence and Martha Good (I am unaware regarding if the two were either married or siblings) that appointed Maxwell as a lawful attorney of petitions. I thought it was interesting to see a document that discussed Maxwell’s progression as a lawyer despite my unfamiliarities with the profession.
This week was very relaxed. I attended the weekly staff meeting and handed in the minutes on time. I was requested to be at a meeting on Wednesday to discuss a new project on going through the Social media comments for the main VA Facebook page and Twitter accounts, but the meeting was cancelled last minute and needs to be rescheduled.
I am compiling data still for my main project that is going through last years weekly reports and completing averages for the data within them. I was told to hold off on the project until we schedule a phone meeting and I get the rest of the reports. The deadline is still unknown.
I also completed a social media post exercise to see if I could create posts for the page under their guidelines. I created four different posts on different topics and submitted on time. I haven’t heard anything back as of yet, but everyone on the team was required to submit and they were looking mostly for team members so they would look at mine last.
High hopes to get everything settled for the next projects.
As I began my second week on January 29th, I made a promise to myself to complete the first box by the end of the week. On Wednesday, I managed to complete the second folder and managed to get some work done for the third folder going through the years 1820, 1821, and 1822. On Friday, I worked through most of folder three and went through the years 1823-1826. Towards the end of the day, Amanda brought up a new rule for me to follow whenever I finish for the day: I am to save a copy of what I have written in total to a flash drive so that the Historical Society has a second copy of my note-taking. However, I noticed some papers from 1822 and 1826 were not separated from their groups. In order to not lose track of these documents, I placed them in a folder that I simply titled as “Disorganized”. On Saturday, I managed to complete the third folder and the first box. The last three years that I had to move were 1827-1829. Unfortunately, the disorganized documents will have to be completed hopefully by Wednesday. That said I made a promise to complete the three folders by the end of the week, so it is not a total loss in my opinion.
One of the interesting themes revolving around Maxwell was that a lot of the documents he had were financial in context. There were some land deeds, articles of agreements, documents that involved debts from people, ledgers, and bills that I had managed to decipher as much as I could. If I were to make an assumption about what kind of law Maxwell practiced, it would be financial. He was also probably in charge of the finances involving his possible mentor and/or partner, Ebenezer Bowman. Most of the documents are directed towards Bowman, who, I read, was a lawyer at the time and was older than Maxwell, considering the former participated in the Battle of Bunker Hill. So it’s possible Maxwell dealt heavily with Bowman’s finances or those of their firm. To conclude, I managed to finish the three folders of box 1 and have theorized the career of Volney Maxwell.
During the first week of my internship at the Luzerne County Historical Society, I quickly understood what was expected and what my assignment would be. My assignment is to review old documents that belonged to a man named Volney Maxwell. Maxwell was a lawyer and one of the earliest members of the historical society in the 1800s. On Wednesday, and the first day of the internship, I was not fully introduced to the materials I needed to use. Amanda Fontenova, the curator, wasn’t in the office. Instead, I worked with another employee named Mark Riccetti. That day I decided to look up some information regarding Mr. Maxwell. What I learned was that he gave two lectures in 1858, which were published in the society archives. There was also the fact that society’s headquarters used to be his widow’s home. On Friday, I began to work with Amanda. She told me that I needed to look through the upstairs archives and go through folders inside these boxes that contained all documents Maxwell kept over the years. As I sifted through old documents, I did my best to decipher the old fashioned penmanship and type a brief description of what each was about. Most of them were letters from his legal partners like Ebenezer Bowman, who I learned was a veteran who participated in the Battle of Bunker Hill. There were even some letters from two people who were a part of the Continental Congress: Samuel Meredith and Tench Coxe. Meredith was a prominent merchant at the time who later became George Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, and Coxe was an economist. I ran into some financial statements and land deeds as well. On Friday, I managed to complete the first folder which ranged from 1804-1809. The next day, I began to work on the second folder of the first box. By the time I had left, I only had two remaining years left, 1818 and 1819. During my first week, I learned the ropes of what I am expected to do as well as testing my reading and deciphering skills (paleography), since the writing style of the period made it difficult to figure out the documents.