Announcement: Interns’ Corner Blog

his341 2015 (1)

Students in Dr. Black’s HIS 341 course (fall 2015) processing archival material in the MU archives

Misericordia regularly sends our students out into the community to build their professional experience and serve others.  Since 2016, MU has sent several students to internships in Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD; Scranton, PA; and Eckley, PA.  Read more about our students’ work in area historic sites, museums, and other related public history endeavors below.

Week 10 AHM

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017It is my final week here at the Anthracite Heritage Museum. I have learned a large number of useful skills that I think would benefit any career I choose to pursue after my college career; including archival and curatorial work. In my opinion, the most beneficial learning objective achieved from this internship are the learning skills for curatorial work and experiencing the specific areas of a curator’s job. For instance, not long ago I learned how curators attempt to clean artifacts that had mold on them and or were dusty, along with determining whether a frame was durable enough to still preserve the artifact. Also, I learned the difficult task of mounting photographs and the patience and delicacy required for cutting excess mounting board from the photograph. Furthermore, I learned the basic skill that a curator possesses, which is the process of cataloging artifacts from donations or otherwise bought. I learned that a curator records the unique design on the artifact, all of the engravings and or inscriptions on the artifact, and so on.

My time at the museum was great and I am grateful to have worked alongside the volunteers and staff. They are all wonderful and nice individuals with great personalities. During the majority of my time there, I was working with the curator. I am appreciative of his willingness to assist me in my decision of whether I want to be in the museum field and either becoming an archivist or curator. He is fantastic and took the role of a mentor exceedingly well. Regarding my decision about becoming an archivist, my mind is still set on perusing that career. However, if I would rather not become an archivist, I would choose to become a curator. Overall, I enjoyed my time at the Anthracite Heritage Museum and I do not regret interning there. Hopefully in the near future, I would like to go back and volunteer at the museum, maybe next summer.

Week 9 AHM

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017This week at the Anthracite Heritage Museum there was some exciting things that occurred. One exciting thing that occurred was putting up the exhibit at Scranton Historical Museum that held photographs of breakers, miners, and immigrants that are important elements of this area’s history. In addition, there are labels placed beside the picture that highlights the information that pertains to the photographs. I am really excited and proud about this exhibit. I am proud of it because I mounted all of those photos and helped the curator out with picking out the labels and mounting them. That is the first exhibit I have ever helped on and it came out great.

Another exciting thing I did this week was assist the curator in cleaning photograph frames of photographs of the Sauquoit Silk buildings. The process is interesting, but requires a lot of patience. The parts of the process are to use a vacuum under a low suction setting and dab the frame lightly with the vacuum. After I cleaned off the frame of one of the donated artifacts, I had to take a photo of it. I had to take a photo of the artifact in order for the curator to send it to the collections committee. The collections committee would look at the artifact, in order to decide whether the artifact is worth keeping in their specific collection or not. If the collection committee did not accept the artifact, the curator would locate a museum or another facility that could take the artifact and preserve it in their collection. Nevertheless, the artifact I photographed would definitely be accepted because of Sauquoit building’s history in Scranton.

Also,  this past week I helped the volunteers at the museum with Library Day. This event is where members of a local library group come to the Anthracite Heritage Museum to take a tour and participate in crafts. This year there was an activity where one could create a pair of mule ears. I assisted another volunteer in the craft section. There was not a large turnout to the event, but the children who came and participated in it had a lot of fun; showcasing their artistic side. Anyhow, next week will be my last week at the museum, so I am eager to see what the final week has in store for me!

Week 8 AHM

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017Another week has gone by here at the Anthracite Heritage Museum. An interesting part of my week at the museum was researching about the Sauquoit Silk Manufacturing Corporation. I conducted research on the Silk Manufacturing Building because of a donation given to the Museum of pictures of the Building along with other Sauquoit Buildings in Pennsylvania, a picture of the layout of one of the buildings, and a brass sign that displays the name of the company. The curator had me look into the history of the silk mill because it helps provide a reason to why the donated artifacts are important to the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission’s collection (of which the AHM is part). After my research in the museum’s archives and studying the donations, I have discovered that one of Sauquoit Silk Manufacturing Corporation’s buildings was in Scranton and located on 302 Fig Street. The other two buildings in Pennsylvania were located in West Bethlehem and Philadelphia. Additionally, the Sauquoit Silk Manufacturing Building in Scranton was built in 1876, which was the first silk mill factory in Scranton. Since the curator asked that I research mainly about the company’s corporate history, I discovered a few interesting facts. For instance, I found that the president of the company in the 1900s was Alex D. Stelle and before him Lewis R. Stelle, a relative of Alex D. Stelle, was president.

Also, during my research I came across other interesting facts about the company. I found that in the late 1800s to the turn of the 20th century Sauquoit Silk Manufacturing Corporation employed around 600 women; whose age spanned from 12 years old to 25. The wages the women would receive would be between 15 to 25 dollars per month. As the company expanded to having buildings in other locations in Pennsylvania and adding more sections to the building in Scranton, the number of employed women ran up to over 1000 women. Additionally, Sauquoit’s building in Scranton was the largest in the State, having 15 different sections total.

Another interesting part of my week at Anthracite Heritage Museum was helping the museum with ways to connect with the public. As part of the management area of a museum, the management individuals are concerned with getting closer to achieving the mission of the museum they work at. Thus, my boss gave me a job that is part of this process, which was to create a SurveyMonkey account for the museum and research other possible social media outlets the museum could use. After I did my research, I came up with a few ideas on possible social media outlets the museum could use. An idea I thought of is to make Facebook live videos of an event that occurs at the museum or an employee going around the exhibit when there are tours taking place. When I discuss this with my boss, maybe Facebook live videos will occur at the museum in the future. We shall see…

Week 7 AHM

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017Another week has passed here at the Anthracite Heritage Museum. This past week I have been practicing mounting photographs, in order to get me prepared to mount the photographs for the exhibit. Practice makes perfect! I practiced mounting two photograph on regular paper. The result of both tries were acceptable. Both of the photos once they were mounted had straight edges and did not touch the photos. There is only step of the mounting process I do not like — cutting the mounting board — because it seems that the strength to cut through the mounting board requires a lot more than I thought. So, I have to nail down the right amount of strength it takes to cut the board in order to not make indents into the board making the sides rough rather than smooth. Unfortunately, I was not able to get into any administration or educational projects this week due to the absence of one of my supervisors. So, for this week I was at the museum I worked on my poster project along with mounting photographs.

The progression of my poster project is coming along well. I have looked into three collections that the museum has. One collection named the Della Fabian collection has the most useful information that can assist me in my research. For instance, there are newsletters from the 1960s to the 1990s created by a Lithuanian ethnic organization that established committees across the United States. Hence, there are local ones such as the Anthracite Council, Scranton Council, Pittston Council, and so on. Some information that I found that is useful are the articles on the Soviet Union’s actions towards Catholic priests, parishes, etc. in Lithuania and the organization’s efforts to have American Lithuanian’s write to these people in order to give them strength and support. Along with these collections, I have access to two books written on the difficult time in Lithuania for background information in order to help me connect the dots. In all, I am pleased with the progress I have made thus far and I am excited to present my research in the fall.

Week 6 AHM

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017Here at the Anthracite Heritage Museum, I am learning an interesting skill this week: mounting photographs for exhibits. The reason why I am doing this is because the curator at the museum is participating in an exhibit that is starting in August and ending in September. The exhibit is to showcase photographs of the DLW Railroads (aka Delaware & Lackawanna Railroad) and miners. Hence, the curator of Anthracite Heritage Museum is choosing photographs of miners working and breakers that the DLW owned. After the photographs were chosen for the exhibit, the curator took me through the process of mounting an image. The process is not simple, but rather tough and requires patience. The procedure is tough because in a few steps you are susceptible to touching glue that can damage objects in the event that one accidentally touched it. Also, the task requires one to cut the edges of the image, so there would not be any part of the mounting board showing. Thus, if one is cutting around the image he or she could unintentionally cut into the image and have to start the whole process over again. In all, the process of mounting an image is not an easy one to execute. After the curator showed me the process, I practiced mounting a regular piece of paper. At first, I was nervous because of the possibility of getting the glue on me that can ruin everything I would touch. However, I mounted the image and avoided getting the glue on me. Next week, I plan on practicing mounting a few images and then mount the chosen images for the exhibit.

At the museum, I will not be doing tours at the moment because there are not many at this time. Hence, I will not be able to strengthen my public speaking skill as much as I would like to. On the other hand, this month I will be changing gears and starting to do projects in the education and administration part of the museum; I am looking forward to that. I cannot wait to see what next week has in store for me!

NFB week six

Gina close up, 2017It is my last day here at the National Federation of the Blind. I am sad to be leaving but also excited to be going home. My supervisor, Anna, told me this morning that I am more than welcome to come back next summer if I would like to; I might just take her up on that offer. I have really enjoyed my stay here in Baltimore. I have loved the work I have been doing in the library, and I have loved the people I have been working with. This morning I had a meeting with President Riccobono, just to go over how my internship went, how I felt about it, and if there was anything that I felt the organization could do more of. I am going to miss the work that I have been doing, the people, and the organization once I leave.

This week in the library though, I finished rehousing some of the pictures I have been working on. I have boxed some more periodicals, and I have been listening to some more oral histories. The oral histories are my favorite thing to do that Anna has given me; I get to learn about the NFB, but also I get to hear someone else’s story about their childhood and how they became involved with the NFB. Most of the stories I have heard, from the members of the federation, are those who have been blind since birth. There are a few that I have heard though, where they have become blind later in their lives, which is fascinating to hear about.

Overall, I have loved this internship experience. I got to live in a beautiful city, which I absolutely love, and I have gotten to work with some of the nicest people I have met. I have made friendships with the other interns which I know will last. I could not be more grateful that I had this opportunity, and hopefully I can come back next year and take Anna up on her offer!

Week 5 AHM

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017This past week at the Anthracite Heritage Museum marks my first month working there. Since this past month, I have gained skills, such as public speaking, that are important for future careers and that more importantly have helped me become more confident in myself. There were no tours scheduled for this week, so unfortunately I couldn’t build on that skill. Yet, hopefully next week I will have the opportunity to do that. Another skill I have acquired is composing intriguing posters that can help me later on in my future career. Along with this, I have gained the skills to make gripping press releases to help bring a crowd to an event.

Additionally, this past month I have done curatorial tasks, such as cataloging, that are an important part of a curator’s job. Cataloging is analyzing a particular artifact and writing down its measurements, the materials that compose it, the item’s origins, and so on. The primary part of cataloging is the description of the artifact. In the description, one has to be exceedingly specific. For instance, this past week I cataloged a blanket donated from the family of a deceased doctor from the area. The blanket has a design on the two short sides of it and is not noticeable without taking the time to look keenly at it. Due to the importance of the description element of cataloging, many curators are not excited to sit down for a portion of time to analyze artifacts and then write it down.

Since I have been cataloging for the past month, I have enjoyed analyzing artifacts and cataloging them because in my opinion the objects are an important part of history. The items are important because they showcase a particular time period in which can inform someone a fact about that particular time. For instance, I cataloged a bottle of ether from a donated medical kit used by a doctor. As I cataloged the object, I got a look at the composition of a bottle of ether and how safety measures were handled at that time.  Accordingly because I like to analyze artifacts, catalog them, and would like to take care of them, I think I would enjoy being a curator. On the other hand, I also would like to become an archivist, so we will find out later on whether my mind is set on becoming an archivist or I decide to become a museum curator instead. Stay tuned…

NFB week five

Gina close up, 2017Week five here at the National Federation of the Blind has just ended and it is really hitting me that I am entering my last week here. I have loved this experience for the past several weeks, and the friends I have made here. This past weekend Kenia and I went to see Luke Bryan in concert, so it was an awesome last weekend here. The girls and I have been talking about me visiting them before their internships are over in August, which I am very excited about. I know I have made lifelong friends.

As for my internship, things have been going well as usual in the library. This past week I finished entering the tenBroek collection into the libraries database. After that I relabeled all of the boxes from the collection from unprocessed to processed, which Anna provided the template for. Working with the tenBroek collection I have learned that Dr. tenBroek kept EVERYTHING. He kept things that did not have to do with the NFB. The collection was given to the library from his son, so I guess his son just gave everything he could find to the library. In this case, I think that was a good idea because then we can see how he thought or what he even liked to do in his spare time. Some of the collection was letters and personal items of his wife, Hazle tenBroek.

After I finished with the tenBroek collection, I went back to rehousing the NFB photo collection. Most of the photos are from Conventions throughout the eighties, like I stated last week. I did however, find some pictures of Hazle tenBroek and some more pictures of Stevie Wonder.

I also spoke to Anna about graduate school. I noticed on her office wall that her Master’s degree was from Simmons College and that is one of the places where I want to apply to for my Master’s. Speaking to Anna really helped in my decision to apply there, as I was not too sure about it. I cannot wait to pursue a Master’s degree in Library Science.

Week 4 AHM

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017Another week has flown by here at the Anthracite Heritage Museum. This past Monday, I did a short tour with one of the regular tour guides. She is a great tour guide who knows how to get the group involved with the artifacts and information being given. Additionally, not only is she able to do that but she has great public speaking skills. So, she is definitely someone I look up to in order to reach my goal of becoming a good public speaker. Later on that day, I presented to my boss my poster idea for an event happening at the museum in mid-July. He liked the poster and gave me a few ideas to improve it slightly. Along with looking over the poster idea, he read my news release and gave me a few suggestions in order to amend it.  So, I am excited to show him the new poster idea I have come up with and the polished press release. For the remainder of the day, I cataloged a small number of donated artifacts. Most of the artifacts were easy to catalog, one on the other hand was not. It was an interesting artifact that I couldn’t come up with the name of the item. I looked up the artifact on the internet, but was not successful; I asked the curator what the artifact could be and he did not know. Thus, I would be curious to know what that medical tool is and what it was used for.

 

Tuesday at the museum, I researched information for my poster project for the day. Most of the research I did was going through newsletters written by a Lithuanian group called the Knights of Lithuania. I learned a lot just by reading a small number of the newsletters. I learned a good number of information about the Soviet Union’s harsh treatment towards the Lithuanian population. For instance, one interesting fact I learned was that the Lithuanian people petitioned for Catholic priests to be let out of prison that caused a stir in the Soviet Union. As a result, Soviet Union officials went to great lengths to locate the Lithuanians that signed those petitions and put them in prison. Locating where the Lithuanians signers were was difficult because they did anything they could to not be found and avoid danger. It is saddening that the Lithuanians had to go through years of hiding and worry everyday about the possibility of facing danger. In the course of this research, I also came across general information that I did not know about. For instance, I discovered that Christmas cards came about in the early 1800s in London by an individual who wanted to make one unique card that he could send to anyone, rather than write one card for one individual. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this week and I am eager to see what next week has in store for me at the museum!

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